By Hnin Yadana Zaw YANGON (Reuters) - More than 700 migrants found packed aboard an overcrowded boat in the Andaman Sea were still being held offshore by Myanmar's navy on Monday, more than three days after the converted fishing vessel was intercepted off the country's coast. "The government is checking their identity, asking what they want to do and where they want to go," government spokesman Ye Htut told Reuters, without providing further details of the boat's location. "Usually, most of them want to go back to Bangladesh, so we will arrange according to their wishes." Government officials have been tight-lipped about the identities of 727 migrants on the overcrowded boat, found drifting and taking on water early Friday, as well as their eventual destination. The government initially labeled the migrants "Bengalis", a term used to refer to both Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims, a largely stateless minority in Myanmar that the government refuses to refer to by name. Officials later said they believed most of those on board were from Bangladesh. Myanmar has come under harsh criticism for its treatment of Rohingya, more than 100,000 of whom have fled persecution and poverty in Rakhine State since 2012. Myanmar denies discriminating against the Rohingya. A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department said the United States had asked Myanmar to allow the immediate disembarkation of and provision of humanitarian assistance to the migrants. "The safety and well-being of these migrants is the highest priority of the international community, including the U.S., which stands ready to provide assistance as needed," Marie Harf told a news conference. MYANMAR MUST END DISCRIMINATION - OBAMA U.S. President Barack Obama told young Asians invited to the White House on Monday that Myanmar needed to end discrimination against Rohingya if it wanted to be successful in its transition to a democracy, something he has sought to make a legacy of his presidency. "(O)ne of the most important things is to put an end to discrimination against people because of what they look like or what their faith is," he said. "And the Rohingya have been discriminated against. And that’s part of the reason they’re fleeing." Journalists from Reuters and other foreign media were briefly detained and turned back to land after approaching the fishing boat on Sunday. Navy officials made journalists delete photographs and video of the boat and at one stage a sailor pointed a rifle at reporters. A navy officer, who declined to be named, told Reuters on Sunday some migrants aboard were able to speak Rakhine, a local language in the western state not widely spoken in Bangladesh. Myanmar says the Rohingya are illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh, and denied during a 17-nation meeting on the crisis in Bangkok last week that it was to blame for a crisis that has seen more than 4,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi "boat people" arrive across Southeast Asia in recent weeks. The migrants were abandoned at sea by people smugglers after Thailand launched a crackdown on trafficking in early May. "Just days after the Bangkok summit on the boat people and the Myanmar authorities are already shamefully violating what was agreed there," Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told Reuters. Myanmar should immediately grant access to the migrants to international agencies, Robertson said, "especially since no one in the international community believes (its) rash and rushed assessment that these people are all from Bangladesh". Kasita Rochanakorn, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Yangon, said UNHCR had previously been invited to help refugees at a disembarkation point in southern Myanmar, but had been "subsequently told that the place of disembarkation had been changed". The UNHCR was still waiting for more information on where the migrants would be unloaded, she said. Myanmar officials had said last month that another migrant boat found at sea with more than 200 people on board was mostly filled with Bangladeshis. But interviews by Reuters found more than 150 Rohingya had earlier been on the same boat, but were quietly whisked off by traffickers before authorities brought the boat to shore. Last Thursday, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein painted a "grim picture of discrimination against Rohingya" at a closed-door briefing at the U.N. Security Council, a council diplomat said. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power called the conditions the Rohingya faced "troubling and inhumane." (Additional Reporting by Soe Zeya Tun and Aubrey Belford in Yangon and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Aubrey Belford in Yangon; Editing by Alex Richardson, James Dalgleish, Toni Reinhold)
- NBC News
Election experts have uniformly declared that the 2020 election was conducted fairly.
- National Review
A Honduran migrant worker claimed that a migrant caravan was headed to the U.S. because incoming president Joe Biden would give migrants “100 days” to arrive at the country, in an interview with CNN. Biden may seek to enact a 100-day moratorium on deportations, however transition team officials have cautioned that the president-elect will not be able to overhaul immigration policy immediately upon taking office. Even so, a group of about 3,000 migrants from Honduras clashed with Guatemalan security forces on Sunday during their trek north to the U.S.-Mexico border. One migrant claimed the caravan was heading north because Biden had promised to help them, in a CNN interview later reposted by The Hill. Honduran migrant: President-elect Biden is "going to help all of us." pic.twitter.com/LkrVCsXcSb — The Hill (@thehill) January 18, 2021 “I just want patience and prayers that we can get to the U.S. because they [will] have a new president, Biden,” the migrant said. “He’s going to help all of us, he’s giving us 100 days to get to the U.S. and give us [legal] papers, so we can get a better life for our kids, and for our families.” Meanwhile, Guatemala deemed the attempted crossing illegal. “Guatemala’s message is loud and clear: These types of illegal mass movements will not be accepted, that’s why we are working together with the neighboring nations to address this as a regional issue,” the office of Guatemala’s president said in a statement on Sunday.
- Associated Press
A woman accused of entering the U.S. Capitol illegally during the Jan. 6 riot will likely be charged with stealing a computer from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a federal prosecutor said in court Tuesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson in Harrisburg said he will consider bail and that he plans to conduct a preliminary hearing on Thursday in the case of Riley June Williams. Williams is charged with trespassing as well as violent entry of the Capitol and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, and is being held in the county jail in Harrisburg.
Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken said at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that it was “extraordinary how frightened Vladimir Putin seems to be of one man” — Alexey Navalny.Why it matters: Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, Navalny, returned to Russia on Sunday and was swiftly arrested. He spent the previous five months recovering in Germany after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. His detention poses an early foreign policy challenge for the Biden administration.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What he’s saying: Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Navalny served as a voice for millions of Russians, “and their voice needs to be heard in Russia.” * “The attempts to silence that voice by silencing Mr. Navalny is something that we strongly condemn,” Blinken added, noting that Navalny's arrest and other points of tension with Russia would be “very high on the agenda for an incoming administration.” * Incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan previously called for Navalny's immediate release.The latest: Navalny was ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days. He was officially arrested for violating the conditions of a suspended prison term by missing an appointment in December.Worth noting: Blinken praised Sen. Mitt Romney, who serves on the committee, for being “prescient” on Russia. Romney was mocked for referring to Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe” in a 2012 presidential debate with Barack Obama, including by Obama himself.Go deeper: Bill Browder on Russia-U.S. relations after Alexei Navalny's arrestGet smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
The incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is considering creating a White House position focused on competition policy and issues relating to antitrust, two sources familiar with internal deliberations said. The idea remains under consideration and the Biden White House may not ultimately make the move, one of the sources said. "It is yet to be determined if this will be more of a coordinator kind of a role or if this person will really sit at the White House," said another source.
- National Review
Dozens were arrested Monday night in New York City when Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with police outside City Hall during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march. Hundreds of demonstrators marched peacefully from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to City Hall in Manhattan, where they were met with a heavy police presence. The demonstration turned violent around 8:30 p.m. in City Hall Park, and police began making arrests after demonstrators started throwing projectiles, blocking traffic, and vandalizing property. Videos posted on social media show police urging the crowd to disperse before starting to make arrests. At least 29 people were arrested near Chambers and Centre streets and eleven officers were injured, including a captain who was hit in the head with a glass bottle. None of the officers are in serious condition. It is unclear how many protesters were injured during the clashes. In another video, police can be seen shoving several protesters as well as wrestling one person to the ground. Protesters can be heard shouting obscenities at officers. Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the New York Police Department over the “excessive enforcement” used against protesters calling for racial justice over the summer, including using pepper spray and batons on protesters and “kettling” or trapping demonstrators. James is calling for federal oversight of the NYPD. The federal government is already monitoring the NYPD to ensure that it retires its stop-and-frisk policy, which was found in 2013 to have been used in an unconstitutional manner. Last summer, riots broke out in New York City following the police custody death of George Floyd in May. About 450 businesses across the city were damaged and in many cases looted over May and June, according to the city’s Department of Small Business Services. More than 2,000 people were arrested at those demonstrations over the same period.
Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken said in his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that the Biden administration is "a long way" from executing its plan to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and plans to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before doing so.Why it matters: America's partners in the Middle East have been publicly raising their concerns about a possible return to the 2015 agreement and calling on the Biden administration to consult with them first.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The state of play: President-elect Biden's plan is to return to the deal, by lifting sanctions, if Iran returns to compliance with the restrictions on its nuclear program. In the next stage, Biden wants to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting agreement. * Blinken said those negotiations would include Iran’s missile program and regional activity.What they're saying: Blinken said Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal left Iran closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon because Tehran began to breach its terms. “Iran’s breakout time, which was a year under the nuclear deal, is only 3-4 months today," Blinken said in the hearing. * Yes, but: While Blinken stressed that the U.S. would live up to its commitments if Iran did, he said the new administration wouldn't rush back into the deal before assessing whether Iran was prepared to return to full compliance.Worth noting: Blinken said he “didn’t shed tears” about the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani by the U.S. one year ago, but added that he believes it made America less safe.Go deeper: * Netanyahu aides fret that "Obama people" will shape Biden's Iran policy * Netanyahu may appoint envoy to Biden administration on Iran * Israel to push Biden to take it easy on Saudi Arabia, UAE and EgyptBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- NBC News
Suspect William McCall Calhoun Jr. faces a host of charges stemming from the Jan. 6 pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol Building.
- The Week
Constitutionally-speaking, Chief Justice John Roberts is meant to preside over President Trump's impeachment trial, but he apparently wants out, Politico reports.Multiple Republican and Democratic sources have reportedly told Politico that Roberts is seeking a way to avoid the job because of how things played out when he oversaw Trump's first impeachment trial last year. Roberts, Politico notes, has worked hard to keep the Supreme Court apolitical during his tenure, so he was reportedly displeased that he "became a top target of the left" during the proceedings. "He wants no further part of this," one source told Politico, although there's been no official word from Roberts' camp about what he'll ultimately do.Trump's trial is a bit of a constitutional oddity. On the one hand, it's a presidential impeachment, but on the other hand, the trial will take place after he leaves office, which is why there's a chance Roberts may have some wiggle room. Historically, either the vice president or the longest-serving member of the Senate have taken up the mantle for lower-level impeachments, per Politico. That means Vice President-elect Kamala Harris or Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) could be the choice. Read more at Politico.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's White House staff and alumni are reportedly using the same excuse to skip his big sendoff Trump tried to act like a mob boss. Instead he's just a thug.
- Associated Press
Vice President Mike Pence will be returning to his southern Indiana hometown Wednesday afternoon following the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The Republican former Indiana governor and his wife Karen are expected to attend Biden’s inauguration and will then fly into the Columbus Municipal Airport, where they will be greeted by some supporters, the Indiana Republican Party said Tuesday. Pence grew up in Columbus and some family members still live there.
- Yahoo News Video
Alejandro Mayorkas, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, said during his Senate confirmation hearing that he would execute Biden’s plan to stop building the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mayorkas also said that CBP and ICE play “critical roles” in the federal government and that he wouldn’t abolish them.
- The Telegraph
The arrest of an Egyptian woman for baking and selling cupcakes bearing iced genitals sparked national debate across Egypt on Monday when the state’s security apparatus turned its full attention to the “cupcake incident”. The baker, whose identity has not been released by the authorities, was arrested on Monday reportedly on charges of ‘violating family values’ after photos of the adult cakes went viral on Facebook. She was later released on bail worth EGP 5,000 (£233). A group of “older” women had been enjoying the cakes at a birthday party at Cairo’s elite Gezira Sporting Club and posted the photo in the club’s Facebook group. Though the photos were taken down by the club’s management after complaints, they went viral on social media after being leaked outside of the private group days later. This led to the involvement of MPs and the formation of a legal committee to investigate the crime. According to Egypt’s Youm7 newspaper, the baker denied making the graphic decorations on top of the cakes. It is unclear from reports whether the group of women ordered the cakes, were sent them by accident, or decorated them themselves. The incident has garnered massive attention across Egypt’s state-controlled media, with the female baker being made an example of, in the country’s latest attempt at controlling public morality. The scandal quickly became the top-trending topic on Egyptian social media and prime-time TV hosts began to condemn the women on air, adding to the growing debate over cupcake gate. An Egyptian MP on Monday evening called for Dr Ashraf Sobhy, the minister of youth and sport (as the incident took place in a sporting club) to be summoned to provide an explanation. The minister quickly announced he had formed a legal committee to investigate the incident. According to newspaper Akhbar el-Yom, fines may be issued against the group of women - who were not arrested alongside the baker - if the investigation finds them guilty. The newspaper also reported claims that the toppers had been imported from America. From TikTok influencers to actresses, belly-dancers and novelists - the arrest of the baker is the latest in a string of charges and jail-time brought against Egyptians in recent years for harming public morals. Earlier this month two female TikTok influencers, who had served time in jail also for “violating family values” were acquitted, in the continued struggle for freedom of expression in the conservative country.
- NBC News
Court documents recounted the man's telling his children that he would consider them "traitors" if they contacted authorities.
- The Week
Anthony Scaramucci was right: The White House appears to be having trouble rounding up a sizable crowd for President Trump's official send-off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Wednesday."In what looks like a desperate attempt to build a crowd for the crowd-obsessed president, an email has been making the rounds to current and former White House officials inviting them, and as many as five plus-ones, to Trump's elaborate exit ceremony," Politico reported Tuesday morning. "The go-to excuse for skipping out has been the 6 a.m. call time at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. But truly, many just don't want to be photographed sending off their former boss."Trump's current staffers have a good reason to avoid their outgoing boss. "Former White House officials and campaign staffers who would typically land plum jobs in corporate America after serving their time are now out in the cold," Politico says. One former White House official who got out early put it this way: "No one wants to touch them, they're just toxic." Another former Trump aide, pointing to the fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection, was more blunt, telling Politico: "They're f---ed."Trump will be the first president since Andrew Johnson, another member of the tiny impeached president club, to skip the inauguration of his successor. "Johnson snubbed Ulysses S. Grant in 1869," The Washington Post notes. More stories from theweek.com Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly wants no part of Trump's impeachment trial 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump tried to act like a mob boss. Instead he's just a thug.
- National Review
President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, setting her up to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. Levine, a pediatrician and former Pennsylvania physician general, will serve as the top deputy to Health and Human Services Secretary-designee Xavier Becerra. “Dr. Rachel Levine will bring the steady leadership and essential expertise we need to get people through this pandemic — no matter their zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability — and meet the public health needs of our country in this critical moment and beyond,” Biden said in a press release. “She is a historic and deeply qualified choice to help lead our administration’s health efforts.” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said that Levine is “a remarkable public servant with the knowledge and experience to help us contain this pandemic, and protect and improve the health and well-being of the American people.” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, appointed Levine to her current position in 2017. She was confirmed by the Republican-majority Pennsylvania Senate for her roles as health secretary and physician general. Levine, a graduate of Harvard University and Tulane University School of Medicine, has become the public face of the state’s coronavirus pandemic response. She faced calls to resign from her post last spring after reports that she had removed her 95-year-old mother from her personal care home after ordering all nursing homes and long-term facilities in the state to accept coronavirus patients from hospitals, despite concerns about older people’s vulnerability to the virus. She defended the decision, saying her mother who is “more than competent to make her own decisions” had requested the move.
- Architectural Digest
Mercedes-Benz’s Hyperscreen, General Motors’ Bright Drop, and Jeep’s Electric Wrangler were among the unveils that turned headsOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
The company's comments come after California's top epidemiologist on Sunday issued a statement recommending providers pause vaccination from lot no. 41L20A due to possible allergic reactions that are under investigation. The vaccine maker said it was unaware of comparable cases of adverse events from other vaccination centers which may have administered vaccines from the same lot or from other lots of its vaccine.
- NBC News
Skylar Mack, 18, was jailed for violating quarantine protocols after isolating for two days and abandoning her tracking device in the Cayman Islands.
- The Telegraph
The final days of a presidential term normally see an outgoing president issue a series of pardons to those who have had criminal convictions. Rumours are swirling about who Donald Trump may pardon, but what is a presidential pardon and how might Trump exercise this power? What is a pardon? A presidential pardon is a legal act under the constitution that allows presidents to unilaterally set aside a punishment for a federal crime. This can involve commuting a sentence, removing a fine or providing clemency. A president can issue a pardon for any federal crime except impeachment.