Wed, 13 January 2021
US lawmakers seek to hold Trump accountable

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23:41   US lawmakers seek to hold Trump accountable
Top American lawmakers on Wednesday sought to hold Donald Trump, the outgoing president, accountable for storming of the Capitol Hill by his supporters on January 6.

Every moment Donald Trump is in the White House, our nation our freedom is in danger. He must be held to account for the attack on our capitol that he organised and incited. I solemnly urge my colleagues to support this rule and the underlying article, Congressman James McGovern said on floor of US House of Representatives.

McGovern brought to the House Floor H. Res. 24, the article of impeachment against Trump.

The article charges the president with Incitement of Insurrection' for his actions on January 6, 2021, when he delivered a speech inciting his supporters to lay siege to the United States Capitol.

This riot temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes and led to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police Officer.

The damage this building sustained can be repaired. But if we don't hold Donald Trump accountable, the damage done to our nation could be irreversible, McGovern said.

Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer in an interview to MSNBC said that the President Trump does things beyond the law. This President does things solely for his own political interest or personal interest, not for the country's interest. That's what some Republicans are saying now.

John Katko said that if we do not address this, then we will be shirking our duty and the Congress and Constitution will be at further risk and our democracy at further risk.

Those are the stakes, he said.

We're here because we have to protect the fundamentals of our democracy. But unless we have a very strong message that this does not stand in the United States of America, this will happen again, said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

Republican Congressman Steve Chabot described the impeachment move as misguided.

Rather than contribute to healing a divided nation, the Democrats' effort will likely drive us even further apart. It's time for us to tone down the political rhetoric; to work together to solve the problems that face our nation. It's time for us to put aside our differences, and find common ground. After all, we're all Americans, he said.

Congresswoman Cindy Axne said that the violent attack on our democracy was no accident. For months, the President had used the power and pulpit of his office to spread lies about the legitimacy and security of our elections. And then, in a desperate attempt to overturn his own loss, he pressed his supporters to impede the certification of his own election, he said.

Regardless of the remaining time in the President's term, his crime is too great for us to ignore. For the safety of our nation and its citizens, President Trump must be removed from office, Axne said.   -- PTI
22:59   Suvendu moves HC seeking police protection
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari  filed a petition before the Calcutta high court on Wednesday, seeking direction to the West Bengal Police for providing himprotection in view of alleged aggression and attack on him andhis supporters by workers of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

He claimed that he has been the subject of spitefulaggression launched by TMC since he left the party and joinedthe BJP in December.

Adhikari mentioned in his petition that he has beenappointed the chairman of Jute Corporation of India, a postequivalent to the rank of a Union cabinet minister.

Stating that he has been made a 'Z' category protecteeby the central government owing to 'severe threat perception', he said in the petition that this cannot be the reason for thestate authorities to remain dormant and indifferent over hissecurity.

Adhikari prayed for an order, directing theauthorities in the West Bengal government to immediatelyensure full-proof security for him, including securityarrangements at the places of his visit for holding publicmeetings and on his travel routes.   -- PTI 
22:17   95% of Covishield doses delivered across country
As much as 95 per cent of 1.1 crore Covishield vaccine doses purchased by the Indian government have been been delivered across the country a day after transportation of the vaccine began, sources said on Wednesday.

The first consignment of the Covishield vaccine against coronavirus from the Oxford/AstraZeneca stable rolled out of the Serum Institute of India manufacturing facility in Pune on Tuesday morning.

Planes ferried vaccine consignments to 13 cities from Pune on the same day.

"So far 95 per cent of the doses of the total purchase order (of 1.1 crore doses) have been delivered. Remaining over one lakh doses will be delivered shortly," saidsources involved in the transportation arrangements.

On Wednesday, vaccine consignments were flown to Agra, Meerut,Bareily, Puducherry, Port Blair and Leh, said Sandip Bhosale, MD of S B Logistics which is handling the delivery of vaccine consignments by air.

India's inoculation drive against coronavirus is set to begin from January 16.  -- PTI
21:38   NSA Ajit Doval on 2-day unannounced visit to Kabul
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Wednesday met the top Afghan leadership and discussed issues of strategic mutual interest as well as on "synchronising" efforts to combat terrorism and build the peace process in the war-torn country.  

Doval, who arrived in Kabul on a two-day unannounced visit leading a high-level delegation, called on Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace on Wednesday morning. 

"Both sides discussed counter-terrorism cooperation and efforts for building regional consensus on supporting peace in Afghanistan," said a brief statement issued by the Arg, the Presidential Palace.  

During the meeting, President Ghani said that the Afghan security forces are the righteous pillars of Afghanistan's stability and are fighting in the front lines against the regional and global terrorism.  

"Afghanistan and India in joint efforts with NATO and the United States will be able to succeed in the fight against terrorism," President Ghani was quoted as telling Doval.  

Doval in return said that India is willing to continue its cooperation with Afghanistan and is ready to continue talks on the common interests, the statement said.  

Doval also met Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council of National Reconciliation, and discussed the peace process, the beginning of the second round of talks and the role of India in establishing peace in Afghanistan.  

Abdullah Abdullah visited India in October last year on a five-day visit during which he held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Doval on the crucial peace initiative in the war-ravaged country. 

Abdullah Abdullah has said India's role in establishing lasting peace in Afghanistan is vital.  

Doval also met his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib and held extensive conversations on issues of strategic mutual interest, including on synchronising efforts to combat terrorism and build peace.  

"@hmohib hosted his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval and his high-level delegation from Delhi for a two-day visit in Kabul. The two sides held extensive conversations on issues of strategic mutual interest, including on synchronising efforts to combat terrorism and build peace," the Office of the Afghan National Security Council tweeted.

-- PTI
21:33   Major fire breaks out in Kolkata slum
A major fire broke out at a slum in Kolkata's Bagbazar area on Wednesday evening, officials said. At least 24 fire tenders were pressed into service as the blaze engulfed several houses in the slum on Kshirode Vidyavinode Avenue beside the Bagbazar Women's College near the Chitpore Lock Gate Bridge, they said. 

Blasts were heard in the slum which police suspect to be of gas cylinders at the houses on fire, officials said. There were no reports of any casualty as most of the people were evacuated on time, they said. 

The blaze also spread to the adjacent Sarada Mayer Bari as the firefighters escorted the saints out, an officer of the fire department said. 

"The reason for the fire is not yet known. The firemen are fighting it tooth and nail and hopefully, it will soon be under control. We have emptied the entire area. There were several blasts, which could be because of the gas cylinders," a senior officer of the Kolkata Police said.

Locals alleged that firefighters reached the spot at least an hour late, because of which the blaze went out of control. A couple of police vehicles were vandalised, following which a team of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was deployed to control the irate mob, the officer said.

Traffic movement on the Kshirode Vidyavinode Avenue as well as the Chitpore Lock Gate Bridge, the lifeline of the people living in the northern fringes of the city, was totally stopped, he said. 

"We have also snapped electricity supply in the entire area. There are at least 40 families whose houses have been gutted in the fire. A godown of books is also gutted," the police officer said.

-- PTI
21:26   CEC to visit poll-bound Assam, Bengal next week
Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, along with Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Rajiv Kumar, will visit Assam and West Bengal early next week to take stock of preparations for Assembly polls slated for later this year.

Deputy Election Commissioner Sudip Jain is already in West Bengal to meet officials.

This is Jain's second visit to West Bengal.

Another EC official is in Assam to take stock of the situation there.

"The two would brief the Commission on Friday and the Commission would visit Assam and West Bengal in that order early next week," a functionary said.

It is usual for the Commission to visit poll-bound states before announcing the schedule of assembly elections.

But it had visited Bihar after announcing the dates for the last elections.

The terms of the legislative assemblies of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry are coming to an end on different dates in May and June this year.

The assembly elections are likely to take place sometime in April-May.

The Election Commission had on Tuesday discussed with Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla the availability and requirement of central security forces for the upcoming assembly elections.

The meeting held at the EC headquarters here was 'primarily to discuss requirement vis--vis availability of central armed police forces (CAPFs), and related matters, for the upcoming assembly elections to the states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and the Union Territory of Puducherry', the poll panel had said.   -- PTI
20:35   Will give vaccine free if Centre can't: Kejriwal
The Aam Aadmi Party government will provide coronavirus vaccine free to the people of Delhi if the Centre fails to do so, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday.

He said he has already appealed to the Centre for ensuring free vaccination in the country since there are many people who may not afford the life-saving shot.

"We will see what the Centre does. If need be and the Centre does not provide the vaccine free of cost, we will make it available free of cost for the people of Delhi," he told reporters.

The chief minister also appealed for not spreading rumours about the vaccine.

"I understand that the Centre and our scientists have brought the vaccine following all the protocols and safeguards. So, there should not be any doubt and people should come forward for vaccination," he said.

Kejriwal said the coronavirus vaccine will be given first to healthcare and frontline workers, and he expressed hope it will provide relief to the people from the virus and the pain they suffered over the last one year.

The vaccination drive will begin in Delhi from Saturday at 89 centres.

Around 51 lakh people, including health workers, frontline workers, those aged 50 years or above, and those with co-morbidities, will be covered under the first phase of vaccination in the national capital.

Each person will be given two doses of the vaccine, and the government has estimated the requirement of 1.02 crore doses for the first phase of the vaccination in Delhi.

The Centre is bearing the cost of the first phase of vaccination of priority group people.

Sources said over Rs 300 crore will be required to provide free COVID-19 vaccination to 1.5 crore people of around two crore population of Delhi.

However, no information was immediately available from the Delhi government about the total number of people to be vaccinated and the expected funds needed for the same.      -- PTI
20:32   Talks must continue: MoS agri on Jan 15 meeting with farmers
The government is in favour of continuing talks with protesting farmer groups as it believes a solution can be found only through dialogue, Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said on Wednesday.

While eight rounds of negotiations so far between the government and a representative-group of thousands of farmers protesting against three farm laws have failed to resolve the crisis, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of the three Acts till further orders and set up a four-member committee to end the impasse.

However, the protesting farmer unions have said they will not appear before the committee as they consider it to be 'pro-government'.

They have, however, shown willingness to attend the scheduled ninth round of talks on January 15 with the government, though they have asserted they would not settle for anything less than a complete repeal of the laws.

"Talks must continue. It is only through dialogue, a way forward can be found," Rupala told PTI.

He was responding to a query whether the government talks with protesting farmers' leaders on January 15 will be held as scheduled in the wake of the Supreme Court setting up of a committee to resolve the crisis.

On Tuesday, Kailash Choudhary, who is also Minister of State for Agriculture, had said the government was willing to go ahead with the meeting and it was for the farmer groups to decide what they want.    -- PTI
20:07   Roy asks Left, Cong to back TMC in Bengal polls
Slamming the Left Front and the Congress party on Wednesday, Trinamool Congress leader Sougata Roy asked both the parties to support West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee in her fight against Bharatiya Janata Party if they are 'genuinely' anti-BJP.

Speaking at a press conference in Kolkata, Roy also accused the BJP of playing communal and divisive politics in Bengal.

"If the Left Front and the Congress are genuinely anti-BJP, they should support Mamata Banerjee in her fight against the communal and divisive politics of the saffron party," TMC leader Roy said.

"Mamata Banerjee is the real face of secular politics against the BJP," Roy added.

Ahead of the state assembly polls later this year, BJP and TMC have been at loggerheads over several political issues including the COVID-19 vaccine.

Lashing out at Banerjee for her 'free vaccine' claim, BJP's member of Parliament Babul Supriyo on Tuesday urged the West Bengal chief minister to refrain from saying 'nonsense'.

Babul Supriyo had said the central government has already announced vaccines free of cost to people.

"Prime Minister held video conferencing with Chief Ministers of all states. Of course, all state health workers will have to do the on ground inoculation. I request Mamata Banerjee to not say nonsense like providing free vaccine."

West Bengal is gearing up for the upcoming Assembly Elections for 294 seats this year.

The tenure of the current government in the state is coming to an end on May 30. -- ANI
19:32   Construction of new Parl to start on Jan 15
The construction of new Parliament building will start on January 15 as it is considered auspicious for work to commence on the day of first dawn after 'Makar Sankranti', sources said on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, a 14-member heritage panel gave its approval for construction of the new Parliament building under the government's ambitious Central Vista redevelopment plan.

"The Central Public Works Department has asked Tata Projects Ltd to start the construction work of the new parliament building on January 15 as it is considered auspicious to commence such a project on the day of first dawn after 'Makar Sankranti'," the official sources said.

The new building is being constructed by Tata Projects Ltd.

The redevelopment project of the Central Vista -- the nation's power corridor -- envisages a new triangular parliament building, a common central secretariat, revamping of the three-km-long Rajpath from Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, new Prime Minister Residence and PMO, and a new Vice-President Enclave.

Sources said that Tata Projects started mobilising machinary and other items required to start construction work of the government's ambitious project.

The Heritage Conservation Committee on Monday gave its nod to the new Parliament project, after the Supreme Court asked the Centre to seek prior approval from the panel and other relevant authorities before starting construction work.

According to the plan, work on redevelopment of Rajpath will start soon after this year's Republic Day parade. The work is expected to be completed in the next 10 months and the 2022 Republic Day parade will be held on a redeveloped Rajpath.

Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of the new Parliament building, which is expected to be completed by the 75th anniversary of India's independence and is estimated to cost Rs 971 crore.

The new building will come up in front of the existing Parliament House that was built nearly 94 years ago at a cost of Rs 83 lakh at that time and would eventually be turned into a museum.

The new building will house larger Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Halls, with capacities of 888 seats and 384 seats respectively, to accommodate an expanded Parliament after the freeze on its expansion lifts in 2026. The Lok Sabha Hall will also have additional capacity, up to 1,272 seats, to host joint sessions.

According to the plan, provisions in the furniture will be made for smart displays and biometrics for ease of voting with an intuitive and graphical interface, digital language interpretation and recording infrastructure to produce real-time metadata, programmable microphones that put the control of managing the house with the speaker.   -- PTI
18:50   Pragya Thakur calls Godse a 'patriot', again
Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur has ended up alluding to Mahatma Gandhis assassin Nathuram Godse as a 'patriot' while attacking the Congress.

Thakur, an accused in the the 2008 Malegaon blast case, on Tuesday evening alleged that the Congress has always abused patriots.

Her comment came in the wake of Congress leader Digvijaya Singhs remark terming Godse as the 'first terrorist'.

The Congress has always abused patriots...termed them as 'saffron terrorists'. Nothing is more vile than this and I dont want to say anything more on the issue, Thakur told reporters in Ujjain when asked about Singh's remark on Godse.

In May 2019, during the Lok Sabha polls, Thakur had kicked up a huge row by calling Godse a patriot, but apologised for it later and withdrew the statement.

In November 2019, the BJP MP had tendered an apology in the Lok Sabha for making controversial comments on Godse in the Lower House of Parliament.

Last Sunday, the Hindu Mahasabha opened a study centre named after Godse in Gwalior, but closed it two days later following an intervention by the district administration.

The BJP MP arrived in Ujjain to take part in an Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) programme.

Thakur praised the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh for dealing strictly with stone-pelters who targetted rallies taken out for creating awareness about the upcoming Ram temple in Ayodhya.   -- PTI
18:21   Somnath Bharti's bail plea to be heard tomorrow
The bail plea of senior Aam Aadmi Party leader and Delhi MLA Somnath Bharti, who was arrested in Uttar Pradesh for his alleged objectionable remarks, will be heard on Thursday.

During a hearing in a special MP-MLA court on Wednesday, government advocate Dan Bahadur Verma sought time from the court to obtain the criminal record of Bharti.

He said in the case pertaining to objectionable remarks registered at Jais police station in Rae Bareli, police served B-warrant, which is obtained from the court in order to take a jailed accused from one jail to another jail through journey, to Sultanpur jail and informed the court.

The court will hear the Amethi matter on January 14 and the Rae Bareli matter on January 15.

Bharti on Monday had ink hurled at him in Rae Bareli and was arrested later for allegedly making objectionable remarks last week.

He was arrested for criminal intimidation and promoting enmity between groups, police said, following remarks two days ago allegedly referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the state's hospitals.

He was remanded to 14 days in judicial custody at Amhat jail in Sultanpur district. Minutes before his arrest, a youth hurled ink at the Delhi MLA when he was emerging from a guest house.

According to a purported video clip of his remarks on Saturday on the state's medical facilities, the AAP MLA had said in Hindi, 'Children are being born in hospitals, but they are of dogs.'

Shortly after ink was flung at him, Bharti was heard arguing with the policemen around him, telling them that he would strip them of their uniforms.

Bharti also retweeted a video clip in which he is heard using a derogatory term for Adityanath, while talking about 'atrocities on women' in the state.

The Amethi Police arrested Bharti, a former Delhi minister, in Rae Bareli on Monday morning, on the basis of a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party worker Somnath Sahu over the alleged remarks made last week.   -- PTI
18:14   Former TMC MP KD Singh sent to 3-day ED custody
A Delhi court on Wednesday sent former Trinamool Congress MP K D Singh, arrested in a money laundering case, to three days ED custody after the agency said he was needed for custodial interrogation.

Singh, who was arrested Tuesday night was produced before Special Judge Anuradha Shukla Bhardwaj, who accepted the ED's contention for former MP's custodial interrogation.

ED's special public prosecutor N K Matta told the court that Singh's statements during the questioning were contradictory and he was also evasive in his replies.

He further told the court that two letters of rogetorry were sent to two countries seeking assistance in the case and their replies are awaited.

He was evasive in replies, has a non cooperative attitude.

From bank statements it can be seen that funds were diverted to own companies, Matta told the court, seeking 14 day custodial interrogation.

Singh was arrested under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The central probe agency had carried out searches at the premises of Singh and those linked to him in September, 2019 in connection with two PMLA cases.

Singh has been the chairman of the Alchemist group and while he resigned from the post in 2012, he is stated to be the Chairman Emeritus and founder of the business group.

The ED is probing him as part of two money laundering cases.   -- PTI
17:36   CCS approves procurement of Tejas jets for IAF
The Cabinet Committee on Security has approved procurement of indigenously developed Tejas aircraft at a cost of about Rs 48,000 crore, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said.

'The CCS, chaired by the PM, today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 cr to strengthen IAF's fleet of homegrown fighter jet 'LCA-Tejas'.

'This deal will be a game-changer for self-reliance in Indian defence manufacturing,' the defence minister said in a statement.

More details awaited.   -- ANI/PTI
17:22   Jahnvi Kapoor's shooting interrupted by farmers group
Actor Janhvi Kapoor's Good Luck Jerry movie shoot was briefly halted on January 11 after farmers groups gathered outside the venue in Bassi Pathana city of Fatehgarh Sahib and sought her opinion on the farmers' protest against the three agriculture laws.  However, the groups went back after assurance from the movie crew. 

"They'd told the workers and director that Bollywood actors have neither said anything in support of farmers protest nor made any comment. When the film director assured them that Janhvi Kapoor will make a comment on the protest then they went back. The shoot is going on," Station House Officer (SHO) Balwinder Singh said.  

Later, the actor posted a message on social media talking about the contribution of farmers. 

 Farmers have been protesting at different borders of the national capital since November 26, 2020, against the farm laws -- Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

-- ANI
16:53   Finally, Yediyurappa expands Cabinet, inducts 7
The 17 month old cabinet in Karnataka was expanded on Wednesday with the induction of seven ministers. Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath of office and secrecy to the ministers at a ceremony at the Raj Bhavan.  

The new Ministers are MLAs Umesh Katti (Hukkeri), S Angara (Sullia), Murugesh Nirani (Bilgi) and Arvind Limbavali (Mahadevapura), and MLCs R Shankar, M T B Nagaraj and C P Yogeshwar. 

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, his cabinet colleagues, BJP leaders and office-bearers, including general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Arun Singh, state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel, senior state government officials, family members and supporters of the new ministers, among others, were present. 

This is the third expansion of the cabinet since Yediyurappa assumed charge in July 2019 after the collapse of the Congress-JD-S government in the wake of a revolt by 17 MLAs of the coalition partners.

-- PTI
16:00   Sale of chicken banned in parts of Delhi
The North and South Delhi Municipal Corporations have banned the sale of chicken in their respective regions, following confirmation of bird flu cases in the national capital. 

The civic bodies also warned hotels and restaurants of action if they served egg-based dishes or poultry meat.

Earlier today the Delhi Health Department issued an advisory asking people not to panic and follow a set of dos and don'ts, including not consuming half-cooked chicken, half-boiled or half-fried eggs.

The warnings come after several ducks at the city's Sanjay Lake and a large number of crows across various city parks were found dead in the last week.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Monday that so far only the ducks had tested positive for the virus, and asked people not to panic as there was no cause for concern.
15:39   BSF detects cross-border tunnels in J-K
The Border Security Force has detected two tunnels in Kathua and Sambha districts on Wednesday.

"Border Security Force detects a tunnel along the international border in Hiranagar sector of Kathua. More details awaited," officials said. In another tweet, the BSF said, "Alert BSF troops detected a tunnel in the Samba Sector of Jammu; thwarting the nefarious designs of Pakistan."

This news comes around a time when Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat is on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

Rawat on Tuesday called on Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Manoj Sinha at Raj Bhawan here.

He was accompanied by Army Commander of Northern Command, Lieutenant General YK Joshi.

-- ANI
15:13   Don't mask Covaxin trial as launch: Congress
The controversy around Covaxin, one of the two anti-COVID-19 vaccines India will deploy to fight back the pandemic, refuses to die even as the Indian government goes full-steam ahead with the mass inoculation programme. 

As Bharat Biotech's product was carried to Delhi and 10 other cities this morning, the Congress party sounded another note of caution citing the Centre's supposed flip-flop on its administration.

The vaccine, developed by the Hyderabad-based company in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, has been touted as a key example of India's indigenous manufacturing and medical research muscle besides being a veritable example of the success of Make in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flag programme.

However, the vaccine is yet to clear its phase-III trials, due to which the government had earlier said it was to be used only in case of emergency as a secondary option.

Yet, a report today quoted Union Health secretary Rajesh Bhushan to say that such a choice won't be available to Indians immediately.    

"Now the government is saying recipients won't be able to pick and choose the vaccineWhen phase 3 trials of Covaxin is not complete, it raises various concerns on its efficacy," Manish Tiwari, Congress spokesperson and Sri Anandpur Sahib MP, told ANI today.

"You can't use rollout as phase 3 trial, Indians are not guinea pigs," Tewari said. "Till yesterday NDA/BJP claimed Covaxin has been cleared for emergency use."
14:49   Coronavirus may resemble common cold in future, scientists predict
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may resemble the mild cold-causing coronaviruses that currently circulate in humans if it becomes endemic and most people are exposed in childhood, according to a study.
The modelling study, published on Tuesday in the journal Science, is based on research of the four common cold coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-1.
The analysis of the immunological and epidemiological data for these viruses helped the researchers to develop a model to predict the trajectory of SARS-CoV-2 as it becomes endemic, when the virus circulates in the general population.
The researchers noted that four common cold-causing coronaviruses have been circulating in humans for a long time and almost everyone is infected at a young age.
Natural infection in childhood provides immunity that protects people later in life against severe disease, but it doesn't prevent periodic reinfection, said Jennie Lavine, from Emory University in the US, first author of the study.
The research suggests that endemic SARS-CoV-2 may become a disease of early childhood, where the first infection occurs between 3 and 5 years old, and the disease itself would be mild.
Older individuals could still become infected, but their childhood infections would provide immune protection against severe disease, according to the researchers.
-- PTI
14:25   Dushyant Chautala meets PM amid farmers' protest
Haryana's Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, amid the ongoing six-week-long farmers' protest and rumours of a rift in the state government.

Chautala is the leader of Jannayak Janata Party which is an alliance partner in the BJP-led government in Haryana. A section of JJP MLAs is believed to have been facing pressure from the agitating farmers.

Chautala, along with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday. The meeting came within hours after the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three controversial farm laws till further orders and decided to set up a committee to resolve the impasse over them between the Centre and farmers' unions protesting at Delhi borders.

Later, Khattar said, "Haryana is epicentre of farmers' agitation so we discussed law and order and security in the state. Chautala told reporters, "Our government will last its full five-year term. There is no threat to Haryana government."

Chautala further said now that the Supreme Court has set up a committee, hope things will be resolved soon. Before meeting Shah, Chautala met MLAs of his party Jannayak Janta Party at a farm house, in which a section of them said it would cost the ruling alliance heavily if the laws are not repealed.
14:05   Suvendu's father divested of another post
Nearly a month after West Bengal's political heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari joined the BJP, his father and TMC Lok Sabha MP Sisir Adhikari was on Wednesday removed as East Midnapore district president, party sources said.

Senior TMC minister Soumen Mahapatra, a known detractor of the Adhikari family, replaced Sisir Adhikari, who was made chairman of the core committee of the party's district unit, a less important post.

The decision came a day after Sisir Adhikari was removed from the post of chairman of Digha-Shankarpur Development Authority.

TMC MLA Akhil Giri, also a detractor of the Adhikari family, replaced Sisir Adhikari as the chief of DSDA, which is responsible for the upkeep and development of the beach town in East Midnapore. 

-- PTI
14:01   Petition filed against Contempt law provision
A petition has been filed in the Karnataka high court against the constitutional validity of Section 2(c)(i) of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 by journalists N Ram and Krishna Prasad, former Union minister Arun Shourie and activist and advocate Prashant Bhushan. 

Section 2 (c)(i) criminalises the publication of anything that 'tends to lower the dignity or authority of any court'. 

The petitioners have argued that the section is 'incompatible with basic values of the Constitution, and is violative of Article 19 (1)(a) and Article 14, apart from being incurably vague and manifestly artbitrary'. 

On Tuesday a bench led by Chief Justice Abhay S Okay issued notices to the central government, and the matter is likely to be listed for hearing on February 22, reports here.
13:50   Try out new farm laws, agri minister to farmers
A day after the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three agriculture laws, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary on Wednesday appealed to farmers to try new laws stating that they can be amended further.

Speaking to ANI, he urged farmers protesting against these laws, which have been termed as "historical reforms" in agriculture by the government, to trust the Supreme Court-mandated committee. 

"They can try it for some time and if they don't like it we can further amend these laws. Otherwise, people believe that their agitation has become a politics-driven movement. I appeal not to be a puppet and come before the Supreme Court committee to resolve the issues," said the minister.

Responding to allegations levelled by farmers on the committee for being pro-government, Choudhary asked: "Who do the farmers trust, if not the Supreme Court?"

"They don't trust the government, neither do they trust Supreme Court or farmers who trust these who do they trust? They need to trust and I, with folded hands, appeal to them to come to the discussion table. Are they saying they don't want the Swaminathan Committee or their demand for freedom to sell anywhere was not right? If old policies were so good why are farmers still poor and committing suicides?" he asked.

Choudhary welcomed the Supreme Court's decision and reiterated that the three laws are for farmers' welfare.
13:23   Union Minister Shripad Naik taken off ventilator
Union Minister Shripad Naik, who is currently under treatment at Goa Medical college after meeting with an accident, has been taken off from ventilator support and shifted to high flow nasal oxygen, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant informed on Wednesday.

A three-member team of AIIMS, Delhi, GMC doctors and Sawant this morning re-assessed Naik's health condition. Sawant said the health of the North Goa MP has improved significantly and he will be minutely monitored by GMC doctors during the next 24 hours.

"We are very satisfied with his (Naik's) breathing, blood pressure, and other health parameters. We have seen him and advised him how to take him off the ventilator tomorrow," Dr Rajeshwari, head of the AIIMS team said after evaluating Naik's health.

The AIIMS team also comprised Dr SB Gaikwad, HOD, Neuro-Radiology and Dr Dalim Kr Baidya, Additional Professor of Anesthesiology.

Naik, Union Minister of State for Defence met with an accident near a village in Ankola Taluk of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka on Monday. Naik along with his wife and personal assistant were on their way to Gokarna from Yellapur. His wife Vijaya Naik and the personal assistant died in the accident. -- ANI
13:07   102 people test +ve for UK Covid variant
The number of people in India who have tested positive for the new UK variant of coronavirus has climbed to 102, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday. Till January 11, the number of people affected by this strain of the coronavirus was 96. On Wednesday, the ministry said, "The total number of persons found to be positive with the new UK variant genome stands at 102 today."

All these people were kept in single-room isolation in designated healthcare facilities by respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put in quarantine and comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others.

Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on, the ministry said, adding the situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the states for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) labs, the ministry said.

Presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by several countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore. PTI
12:53   China sees spike in Covid cases ahead of WHO visit
China's COVID-19 cases crossed the 100-mark for the first time in recent months, ahead of Thursday's visit of the WHO team to Wuhan to probe the origins of the coronavirus. 

The number of coronavirus cases in China climbed to 115 on Tuesday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday, adding that 107 of the infections were locally transmitted and the rest arrived from outside. 

Of the locally transmitted cases, 90 were reported in north China's Hebei Province, which neighbours Beijing; 16 in Heilongjiang Province and one in Shanxi Province, the NHC said. 

As of Tuesday, China reported a total of 87,706 COVID-19 cases and 4,634 deaths due to the virus. The sudden spike in cases after China contained the virus raised concern as the surge comes ahead of the Spring Festival, the biggest annual holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar. The week-long festival, which also marks the Chinese New Year, will commence on February 12 during which millions of Chinese travel to home and abroad to celebrate the holidays. 

While Beijing, which has reported few cases, is tightening control because of the surge in infections in neighbouring Hebei province where millions of people are under lockdown due to the fast spread of the virus, provinces across the country are taking measures to contain the disease. Local governments across China are shutting down funerals and weddings to cut down the risk of coronavirus spreading across rural areas, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday. Funerals and weddings in China's rural areas sometimes involve hundreds and maybe even thousands of guests. They are an important element of traditional Chinese culture and low attendances involve a huge loss of face for the families. 

 The surge of the virus comes ahead of the long-awaited visit of the 10-member World Health Organisation (WHO) team to Wuhan, where COVID-19 first emerged in December 2019. The team will directly fly from Singapore to Wuhan, Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. It is not clear whether they would go through 14-day quarantine.
12:19   Maha receives only 50% of vaccine requirement
Maharashtra goverment has so far received 9.83 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines out of the total requirement of 17.5 lakh for inoculation in the first phase, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday. The state has received only 9.63 vials of Covishield vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and merely 20,000 vials from the Bharat Biotech of its indigenously-made vaccine, Tope told reporters.

"We have to give the doses twice to a person in a gap of four weeks, hence 55 per cent of the around eight lakh registered health workers will undergo vaccination as of now," he said. 

"The need of vials for Maharashtra is 17.50 lakh for the first phase. We need slightly more vials because 10 per cent wastage is expected. But, we have received 9.63 lakh vials from the Serum Institute of India," he said.

Besides, the state has received 20,000 vials of the Bharat Biotech's Covaxin, he said. Tope also informed that the Centre has asked the state to reduce the number of inoculation centers from 511 to 350, saying the government should focus on other emergencies also. 

"If we go ahead with 350 centres and 100 people are inoculated at each centre, the state will be able to vaccinate 35,000 health workers on the first day of the vaccination on January 16," he said. 

Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 2,936 new COVID-19 cases, taking the tally of infections to 19,74,488. The cumulative COVID-19 death toll in the state has reached 50,151, as per official figures. PTI
12:05   Deaf-mute girl gang-raped in Bihar, eyes damaged
A 15-year-old deaf and mute girl has been allegedly gangraped in Bihar's Madhubani district and her eyes were damaged with a sharp object so that she couldn't identify the perpetrators, police said on Wednesday.

Both her eyes were damaged but it is yet to be ascertained whether she has completely lost her eyesight, doctors attending to the girl, who is in a critical condition, said.

Three persons have been arrested in connection with the incident that took place in Kauwaha Barhi village in Harlakhi police station area on Tuesday when she took her goats for grazing, Superintendent of Police Satya Prakash said, adding all the accused hail from the same village.

Village head Ram Ekbal Mandal said that the girl had taken her goats for grazing to a field outside the village with some other children. One of the children informed the girl's family about the incident. They found her lying unconscious in a barren field in neighbouring Manoharpur village.
12:05   Take a walk: Petrol, diesel prices at all-time high
Petrol price on Wednesday touched a new high of Rs 84.45 per litre in the national capital after state-owned fuel retailers hiked prices after a five-day hiatus. Petrol and diesel prices were hiked by 25 paise per litre each, according to a price notification from oil marketing companies. 

In Delhi, petrol now costs Rs 84.45 per litre and diesel is priced at Rs 74.63. In Mumbai, petrol comes for Rs 91.07 a litre and diesel for Rs 81.34.

This is the highest ever price of petrol in Delhi, while diesel is at a record high in Mumbai. State-owned fuel retailers -- Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) -- had on January 6, resumed daily price revision after nearly a month-long hiatus. Rates were hiked on two consecutive days - totalling 49 paise for petrol and 51 paise for diesel - before they hit a pause button again. 

The price increase cycle resumed after international oil prices rose for the seventh day. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 1.3 per cent at USD 53.88 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 79 cents at USD 57.37. Both benchmarks are trading at the highest since February, before the coronavirus outbreak in China began spreading across the world, forcing lockdowns that shaved off demand. 

Petrol price had scaled to an all-time high of Rs 84.20 per litre on January 7. The previous highest ever rate of Rs 84 a litre for petrol in Delhi was touched on October 4, 2018. On that day, diesel too had scaled to an all-time high of Rs 75.45 a litre. -- PTI
11:28   A strong India would counterbalance China: WH
Asserting that India maintains the capacity to counter border provocations by China, the outgoing Trump administration in a declassified document has said that a strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a "counterbalance" to China in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. 

Running into 10 pages, the document was recently declassified in part by US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and now has been posted on the website of the White House. India's preferred partner on security issues is the United States. 

The two cooperate to preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence in South and Southeast Asia and other regions of mutual concern. India maintains the capacity to counter border provocations by China, said the US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. India, it said, remains preeminent in South Asia and takes the leading role in maintaining Indian Ocean security, increases engagement with Southeast Asia, and expands its economic, defence and diplomatic cooperation with other US allies and partners in the region.

"A strong India, in cooperation with like-minded countries, would act as a counterbalance to China," the document said. The US and its partners on every continent are resistant to Chinese activities aimed at undermining their sovereignty, including through covert or coercive influence, it said. The policy framework said its objective is to accelerate India's rise and capacity to serve as a net provider of security and major defence partner; solidify an enduring strategic partnership with India underpinned by a strong Indian military able to effectively collaborate with the US and its partners in the region to address shared interests.
11:23   YouTube bars Trump's account from uploading videos for a week
Video-sharing app YouTube said on Tuesday night it was barring new content from being posted on President Donald Trump's channel for at least a week over a violation of its policies, the latest move by a social media giant to crack down on the president following last week's Capitol Hill riots.

"After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump's channel for violating our policies. It now has its 1st strike & is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a *minimum* of 7 days," YouTube said in a statement on Twitter as quoted by The Hill. 

The comments section has also been disabled, the app stated further.

"Given the ongoing concerns about violence, we will also be indefinitely disabling comments on President Trump's channel, as we've done to other channels where there are safety concerns found in the comments section," it added.

The decision comes days after Twitter banned Trump (his personal account: @realDonaldTrunp) from its platform completely, a stunning move that drew the ire of conservatives in the US, as well as criticism from around the world, reported The Hill.

However, YouTube did not specify the nature of the content that prompted Tuesday's action. According to CNN Business, it concerned a video that promoted violence.

The video-sharing website had recently pulled former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon's "War Room" podcast from its platform, citing noncompliance with its guidelines, The Hill reported further.

On January 6, a group of Donald Trump's loyalists stormed the US Capitol building, clashing with the police, damaging property, seizing the inauguration stage and occupying the rotunda.
Hema Malini woos voters in the 2019 general elections
Hema Malini woos voters in the 2019 general elections
11:10   Farmers don't know what they want: Hema Malini
Farmers agitating at the borders of Delhi don't know what they want, said veteran actor and Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Mathura, Hema Malini, and added that they are only protesting because someone had asked them to do so.

"It is good that the Supreme Court has stayed the laws. This will hopefully calm the situation. Farmers are not willing to come to a consensus even after so many talks. They do not even know what they want and what is the problem with the farm laws. This means that they are doing this because someone asked them to do it," Hema Malini said. 

She also said that it was 'not nice' to see towers being vandalised in Punjab.

"Punjab has suffered a lot of losses. It was not nice to see them (farmers) vandalise towers. The government has called them for talks repeatedly but they don't even have an agenda," she added.

Speaking about the COVID-19 situation, she reminded people that the pandemic is not yet over and masks should be used and safety protocols followed.

"Corona is not yet over. Some people from our party passed away due to the disease. The general public should continue to be more cautious. If we roam around freely (without precautions) it will increase again. Especially with this new bird flu, everyone should take care of themselves and their family," she said.

The actor-turned-politician further said that she would definitely be vaccinated when her turn comes.

"Good that the vaccine is here now. I will definitely get the vaccine when my turn comes. The opposition has also said some things. Whatever the government says they have to say just the opposite," she said.
11:05   Who is Modi's stylist?
Journalist Saurav Das tweeted this image of an RTI application he sent to the government to find out who bears the costs to groom PM Modi. Das wanted information on expenditure incurred on Modi's hair-dresser, grooming team, make-up team, per month and the pay hike if any handed out to the team.

Alas, the RTI reached a dead end since, apparently, Modi's grooming expenditure does not come out of the national exchequer and is therefore 'exempt from disclosure'. 

Have a good hair day.
10:44   Day after court case, Sonu Sood meets Pawar
Actor and humanitarian Sonu Sood paid a courtesy visit to NCP chief Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence today.

Yesterday, the Mumbai civic body stated in its affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court that Sood was a "habitual offender" who keeps carrying out unauthorised construction work in a residential building in suburban Juhu despite demolition action initiated on two occasions in the past.

The affidavit was filed in response to the petition filed by Sood last week challenging a notice issued against him by the BMC in October last year and an order passed by a civil court in December 2020 dismissing his suit against the notice.

In its notice, the BMC had alleged that Sood carried out structural changes in the six-storey residential building ''Shakti Sagar'' and was converting it into a commercial hotel.
10:36   15,968 new COVID-19 infections, 202 deaths in last 24 hours
India reported 15,968 new COVID-19 cases and 202 deaths in the last 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry. The overall caseload in the country reached 1,04,95,147, including 2,14,507 active cases on Wednesday. With 17,817 discharges in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries reached 1,01,29,111. The death toll has gone up to 1,51,529.

At present, there are 64,759 active coronavirus cases in Kerala, the highest in the country, followed by Maharashtra with 53,067 active infections.

According to the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 18,34,89,114 samples were tested for COVID-19 till January 12, of which 8,36,227 samples were tested yesterday.

On Tuesday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed that the coronavirus recovery rate touched 96.49 per cent. It also said that the total number of persons found to be positive with the new UK variant genome stands at 96. -- ANI
10:17   India postpones Pulse Polio vaccination
In view of the upcoming large-scale Covid-19 vaccination drive, the central government has postponed the National Pulse Polio vaccination drive indefinitely.

"Due to unforeseen activities, it is decided to postpone the scheduled Polio NID (national immunisation day) round from 17th January 2021 till further notice," the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said. 

The pulse polio vaccination drive covers all children under the age of five years. Every year, the pulse polio vaccination begins on January 17, however this year the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination will begin on January 16 and so the polio drive has been postponed.
10:02   US House to vote on Trump's impeachment today
The US House of Representatives is all set to vote on articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, thus opening the possibility of him becoming the only president in American history to be impeached twice. 

The article of impeachment charges Trump with a count of 'incitement of insurrection' for his actions on January 6, when he delivered a speech inciting his supporters to lay siege to the Capitol, an action that temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes and resulted in the deaths of five individuals, including an officer of the US Capitol Police. 

On Tuesday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named the Managers of the impeachment trial of Trump. The Lead Manager is Congressman Jamie Raskin, who is the main author of the articles of impeachment. 

The other managers are congresswomen Diana DeGette, Stacey Plaskett and Madeleine Dean and congressmen David Cicilline, Joaquin Castro, Eric Swalwell, Ted Lieu and Joe Neguse.

It is their constitutional and patriotic duty to present the case for the President's impeachment and removal. They will do so guided by their great love of country, determination to protect our democracy and loyalty to our oath to the Constitution. Our Managers will honour their duty to defend democracy 'For The People' with great solemnity, prayerfulness and urgency, Pelosi said. The move came after the House passed a resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of his duties. Pence in a letter to Pelosi, a top Democratic leader, declined to do so.
09:44   At 5:30 am Mumbai got 1.39L doses of Covishield
Mumbai received over 1.39 lakh doses of the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, Covishield, from the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) early Wednesday morning, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. This first batch of doses will be delivered across the city at designated vaccination centers for the inoculation drive set to begin on January 16, the BMC said in a statement. 

The civic body said it received 1,39,500 doses of the Covishield vaccine from the SII around 5.30 am. Health department staffers of the BMC brought the vaccines from neighbouring Pune under the security of two police vehicles, it said. 

 "The vaccine doses are being stored at a facility in F-South ward office situated in Parel," it stated. The civic body has also created a centralised cold storage facility for vaccines in Kanjurmarg. Nearly 1.30 lakh health workers from Mumbai have so far registered for vaccination, according to BMC officials.

Mumbai will have 72 inoculation centres, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said in a release on Tuesday. A minimum of 100 people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 at a single centre which will have a team of five personnel who will verify the SMS sent to the person to be inoculated, her or his identity and administer the vaccine. 

"The necessary arrangement of electricity, Internet and webcasting service has been made at all these centres," Tope said in the release. A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 has been set in process with more than 56 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities across India on Tuesday.
09:33   Goa gets it batch of Covaxin
The first consignment of Covishield vaccine by the Serum Institute of India arrived in Goa at 6:22 am today. The two boxes received were handed over to the State Health department: Goa Airport Director Gagan Malik.
09:22   Woman accuses Maha minister of rape; he says it is blackmail
A woman has accused Maharashtra Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde of rape and claimed the Mumbai police ignored her complaint.

The NCP leader denied the allegations, claiming he is being blackmailed by the complainant and her sister. Munde said he had been in a relationship with the complainant's sister and sired two children.

The 37-year-old woman, an aspiring singer, said she wrote to Mumbai police commissioner on January 10, stating that Munde repeatedly raped her in 2006. She also claimed that she approached Oshiwara police here earlier but her complaint was not accepted.

Munde (45) said the woman's claims were part of a conspiracy to blackmail him. He, however, acknowledged that he was in a relationship with the complainant's sister and has two children with her.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Munde said his wife, family and friends were aware of this relationship, adding the two kids have been accepted by his family.

He said the woman with whom he was in a relationship had been blackmailing him since 2019 and he had filed a police complaint and also moved the Bombay high court seeking a stay on distribution of defamatory content against him.

-- PTI
09:12   Moral defeat for BJP: Sukhbir Badal on farm laws
The Supreme Court's stay on implementation of the contentious farm laws is a "resounding moral defeat of the BJP government", Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal tweeted after the court expressed concern over "lives and property of people affected" and criticised the centre for its apparent inability to resolve an agitation that has rumbled on for several weeks.

However, Badal also red-flagged the setting up of a committee of agricultural experts - all of whom have publicly backed the farm laws - to negotiate an amicable solution. The farmers were equally critical, saying "these members have been justifying the laws".

"Today's Supreme Court order on farmers' issue is a resounding moral defeat of BJP government at the centre... (but) the committee formed by Supreme Court, comprising supporters of anti-farmer laws is a joke and unacceptable," Badal tweeted.

The Akali Dal leader also expressed "grave concerns over reports the government is pushing mercenaries among agitating farmers to incite violence and defame the honourable struggle" and said the "Akali Dal objects to government allegations that Khalistani elements have infiltrated the protest".
08:53   Movement of Covaxin consignment begins
The first consignment of Covaxin developed by Bharat Biotech is being carried via flight from Hyderabad to Delhi on Wednesday, officials informed.

The official said, "The first consignment of vaccine from Bharat Biotech is being carried by Air India on AI 559 from Hyderabad to Delhi on Wednesday at 0640 hours." 

Covishield and Covaxin, the two COVID-19 vaccines which have received Emergency Use Authorisation have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, said on Tuesday and noted that the two "are safest of the vaccines".

"Both the vaccines (Covishield and Covaxin) have been authorized for emergency use and there should be no doubt about their safety. They have been tested on thousands of people and side-effects are negligible. There is no risk of any significance," Dr Paul said at a press conference.

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive is scheduled to start from January 16.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the Central government is having close collaboration with states and union territories for vaccine roll-out. 

"All preparations are on track for vaccine roll-out from January 16," he said.

-- ANI
08:23   Maharashtra receives 9.63 lakh Covishield doses
The Maharashtra government has received 9.63 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine from Serum Institute of India, health minister Rajesh Tope said.

Healthcare workers, government employees, private health institutions, Asha, Anganwadi workers to be the priority in the vaccination drive, which is slated to begin from 16 January across the country, the minister said.

Mumbai, the state capital, will have the highest number of 72 centres while Pune district will have 55 centres, an official release said as first consignments of vaccine left SII in Pune earlier in the day.

The government has compiled a database of 7.84 lakh health workers who will be vaccinated in the first phase.

A minimum of 100 people will be vaccinated against COVID-19 at a single centre which will have a team of five who will verify the SMS sent to the person to be inoculated, her or his identity and administer the vaccine.

The first consignment of Covishield vaccines left for Delhi on Tuesday morning, four days ahead of the nationwide inoculation drive launch.
07:56   Pence refuses to invoke law to oust Trump
US Vice President Mike Pence said that he will not "yield to pressure" to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from office.

In a letter to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pence condemned last week's riot in Capitol Pence and said: "I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with our Constitution. Last week, I did not yield to pressure to exert power beyond my constitutional authority to determine the outcome of the election, and I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our Nation." With just eight days left in the President's term, he said Pelosi and the Democratic Caucus "have been demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment."

He also reiterated his commitment to "work in good faith with the incoming administration to ensure an orderly transition of power".

Pence said that the 25th Amendment "is not a means of punishment or usurpation".

"Under our Constitution, the 25th Amendment is not a means of punishment or usurpation. Invoking the 25th Amendment in such a manner would set a terrible precedent."

"I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment. Work with us to lower the temperature and unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States," he added.

On January 6, a group of Donald Trump's loyalists stormed the US Capitol building, clashing with police, damaging property, seizing the inauguration stage and occupying the rotunda. The unrest took place after Trump urged his supporters to protest what he claims is a stolen presidential election.

-- ANI
01:38   No ifs and buts in fight against terror: EAM
India on Tuesday asserted that there must not be any 'ifs and buts' or double standards in the fight against terrorism as it told the United Nations Security Council that the crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai blasts is given not just 'state protection' but enjoying five-star hospitality, in a veiled reference to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

"Linkages between terrorism and transnational organised crime must be fully recognised and addressed vigorously. We, in India, have seen the crime syndicate responsible for the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts not just given State protection but enjoying 5-star hospitality," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

Jaishankar was speaking at the UNSC Ministerial Meeting on Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts: International cooperation in combating terrorism 20 years after the adoption of resolution 1373 (2001),' the first address by Jaishankar to the Security Council after India began its two-year tenure on the 15-nation body this month.

In August last year, Pakistan had for the first time acknowledged the presence of Ibrahim on its soil after the government imposed sweeping sanctions on 88 banned terror groups and their leaders which also included the name of the underworld don wanted by India.

Jaishankar proposed an eight-point Action Plan for the UN system to credibly address the menace of terrorism and ensure effective action.

He called on nations to summon up the political will to combat terrorism.

"There must be no ifs and buts in this fight. Nor should we allow terrorism to be justified and terrorists glorified. All member States must fulfill their obligations enshrined in international counter terrorism instruments and conventions," he said.

In a strongly-worded statement against the scourge of terrorism and those States providing safe havens to terror groups, Jaishankar said 'we must not countenance double standards in this battle. Terrorists are terrorists; there are no good and bad ones. Those who propagate this distinction have an agenda. And those who cover up for them are just as culpable'.

While noting that some nations lack the legal and operational frameworks and technical expertise needed to detect, investigate, and prosecute terrorist financing cases, Jaishankar said there are also other states that are 'clearly guilty' of aiding and supporting terrorism, and 'wilfully provide' financial assistance and safe havens, an apparent reference to Pakistan.

"While we must enhance capacities of the former, the international community must collectively call out the latter and hold them accountable," he said.

Jaishankar said combating terrorist financing will only be as effective as the weakest jurisdiction.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should continue to identify and remedy weaknesses in anti-money laundering and counter-terror financing frameworks.

Enhanced UN coordination with FATF can make a big difference, he said.

He added that the adequate funding to UN Counter Terrorism bodies from UN regular budget requires immediate attention.

The forthcoming 7th review of the UN's Global Counter Terrorism Strategy offers an important occasion to strengthen measures to prevent and combat terrorism and building capacities of member states.

He underlined that preventing terrorists from accessing financial resources is crucial to successfully countering the threat of terrorism as over the years, terrorist groups have developed a diversified funding portfolio through a range of criminal activities, including extortion, kidnapping, money laundering, drug smuggling, and trafficking of natural resources, humans and antiquities.

"Terrorist organisations have also begun to exploit the anonymity afforded by block chain technology for fundraising and finances."

Jaishankar expressed hope that the suggestions by India will merit serious consideration by the Council.

"While India has been itself battling terrorism for many decades with great resolve, these proposals have been framed with the interests of the entire international community in mind. It is time that all nations walk the talk and commit their actions to the goal of zero tolerance for terrorism," he added.   -- PTI