WATCH: Dry skies early week, holiday rain
- The Independent
- Associated Press
A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country's strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, lawyers said. The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said. “Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch.
An independent panel said on Monday that Chinese officials could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January to curb the initial COVID-19 outbreak, and criticised the World Health Organization (WHO) for not declaring an international emergency until Jan. 30. The experts reviewing the global handling of the pandemic, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for reforms to the Geneva-based United Nations agency.Their interim report was published hours after the WHO's top emergency expert, Mike Ryan, said that global deaths from COVID-19 were expected to top 100,000 per week "very soon". "What is clear to the Panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January," the report said, referring to the initial outbreak of the new disease in the central city of Wuhan, in Hubei province.
Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sydney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * The letter also orders Lindell to "preserve and retain all documents relating to Dominion and your smear campaign against the company." * Lindell also must preserve all communications with any member of the Trump campaign, in addition to communications with Rudy Giuliani, Powell, Jenna Ellis and Lin Wood. The big picture: Lindell met with Trump last week and was caught by photographers with notes referencing martial law and Sidney Powell. The CEO has become known for pedaling election-overturning conspiracies and last year promoted a fake cure to the coronavirus. What they're saying: Dominion's letter reads... "Despite knowing your implausible attacks against Dominion have no basis in reality, you have participated in the vast and concerted misinformation campaign to slander Dominion ... Litigation regarding these issues is imminent."A spokesperson for My Pillow did not immediately return a request for comment. Read the full letter here: Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Week
- The Independent
- National Review
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that a convoy of trucks carrying emergency oxygen supplies for Brazil's northern Amazonas state, where a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit hard, has departed and is set to arrive at the border by Monday morning. Reading from a message sent by Justo Noguera, governor of Venezuela's southern Bolivar state, Maduro said during a state television appearance that the six trucks would arrive at the Santa Elena de Uairen border crossing by morning, where they would be handed over to Brazilian health authorities. From there, the trucks - carrying some 136,000 liters of oxygen, enough to fill 14,000 individual canisters - would take 14 hours to arrive in Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, whose hospital system is collapsing due to the pandemic.
- NBC News
A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.The big picture: Video footage appears to show Williams entering the Capitol with other rioters on Jan. 6. She appears to direct them up a staircase in the building. * Following the siege, a person called the FBI tip line to identify Williams and claimed that she told them she planned to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, per a DOJ statement of facts. It's alleged the friend planned to then sell it to Russia’s foreign intelligence service. * The caller said the transfer fell through and alleged that Williams either still has the device or destroyed it. Of note: Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff confirmed the laptop's disappearance on Jan. 8 but said it was "only used for presentations." For the record: Williams had developed a sudden interest in President Trump's politics and "far-right message boards," her mother told ITV News on Jan. 16. * Her mother said her daughter fled after the insurrection. * Williams also deleted her social media accounts and changed her phone number, according to FBI officials.Go deeper: Deadly Capitol riot: The people facing federal chargesBe smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Associated Press
So what does a 50-50 Senate get President-elect Joe Biden? Washington has barely had time to process the implications of Democratic control after two Georgia runoff elections that are delivering the Senate to Democrats. The unexpected new balance of power giving Democrats only the barest control of Congress has big consequences for the president-elect — easy confirmation of his Cabinet most importantly — but the road ahead for his ambitious legislative agenda remains complicated and murky.
- Reuters Videos
China stands ready to help Kenya deal with its debt challenges, it's embassy in Nairobi said on Monday (January 18) adding that both sides are holding "smooth" talks over the issues. Beijing is one of Kenya's biggest external creditors, having lent billions of dollars for the construction of rail lines and other infrastructure projects in the past decade. But after months of lockdown measures, the East African country's revenues have been pummeled, its debts are falling due and it is grappling with gaping fiscal deficits. In a statement the embassy in Nairobi said China attaches "great importance" to debt suspension and alleviation in African countries, including Kenya. The embassy said China has signed debt service suspension agreements with 12 African countries and provided waivers of matured interest-free loans for 15 under the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. That scheme allows the world's poorer countries to defer official bilateral payments through to the end of June but last week World Bank President David Malpass, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, expressed frustration at a lack of private sector support for the initiative at a time when many countries are grappling with economic and health crises. "Looking at it from the standpoint of the private sector, they say a contract is a contract. But I guess I would push back and say throughout history there have been occasions where there needs to be deep debt reduction and this clearly is one of those occasions. So I'm, I'm, I urge the private sector to take a look country by country at the over-indebtedness and look for ways to share the burden with the official bilateral creditors." The Chinese embassy did not say whether Kenya will get relief through the same G20 initiative or a separate deal. Last week Kenya secured a debt repayment relief deal with the Paris Club of international lenders and is seeking further relief from other bilateral creditors.
- National Review
- The Week
The FBI on Monday shared with law enforcement agencies an intelligence report warning that far-right extremists have talked about going to D.C. for the inauguration and posing as National Guard members, The Washington Post reports.The Post obtained a copy of the document, which said "lone wolves" and QAnon followers — including some who participated in the mob that stormed the Capitol earlier this month — have indicated they intend on traveling to Washington for the inauguration. The report also said people have been observed downloading and distributing maps of sensitive locations in D.C.The briefing did not include any specific plots, the Post reports, and noted that "numerous" extremist groups and militias have publicly stated they don't want to see any violence targeting the transition of power. At the request of the FBI, the Post did not share all of the details inside the intelligence report, in order to protect intelligence-gathering methods and avoid publicizing security vulnerabilities.The Secret Service coordinates all security for the inauguration, while the FBI gathers intelligence on threats made against the event. Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said agents are monitoring an "extensive amount of concerning online chatter" and it can be difficult to "distinguish what's aspirational versus what's intentional."More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Melania Trump released a farewell video. So did Colbert's Late Show Melania Trump. Anthony Scaramucci says even he got an invite to Trump's D.C. sendoff
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office on Wednesday with only a few of his top chosen deputies in place. The Democrat's Cabinet appointees are awaiting approval by the Senate, who are set to hold their first confirmation hearings on Tuesday. Biden's pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, will meet with the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).
- Associated Press
- The Independent
The latest updates from the White House and beyond on 17 January 2021
- The Telegraph
A Christian girl has been taken into care in Pakistan after allegedly being abducted by a Muslim man who forced her to marry him and kept her chained up in a cattle pen. The girl spent five months chained up in the pen in the yard of her 45-year-old captor's home, where she was forced to work all day clearing the animals’ dung, her family claim. They said that when she was rescued by police last month, she had cuts on her ankles left by the shackles put on her by captor, who is also said to have raped her repeatedly. The case has now been taken up by human rights groups, who say the family's initial complaint to police went ignored for three months. They claim that every year, hundreds of girls from Pakistan's Christian and Hindu minority groups are abducted and forced into Muslim marriage, with the justice system often turning a blind eye for fear of offending Islamic hardliners. They say that Britain, which gives £302 million in aid last year to Pakistan, should insist that more is done to counter prejudices against minorities and challenge institutionalised tolerance of sexual abuse. In November, The Telegraph reported on the case a 14-year-old girl allegedly kidnapped by a Muslim man who then used threats of violence to make her sign false papers consenting to marriage. When she escaped from his custody, a court initially ruled the marriage legal and returned her to her abductor's home. She is now in hiding, with the British charity Aid to the Church in Need petitioning Boris Johnson to allow her to seek asylum in Britain.