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Farmers back at protest camp after deep challenge to PM Modi – The Associated Press

https://apnews.com/article/narendra-modi-new-delhi-india-coronavirus-pandemic-3f25e11535359288e461761027fb1b68

Farmers back at protest camp after deep challenge to PM Modi - The Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — Tens of thousands of farmers who stormed the historic Red Fort on India’s Republic Day were again camped outside the capital Wednesday after the most volatile day of their two-month standoff left one protester dead and more than 300 police officers injured.

The protests demanding the repeal of new agricultural laws have grown into a rebellion that is rattling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. On Tuesday, more than 10,000 tractors and thousands more people on foot or horseback tried to advance into the capital, shoving aside barricades and buses blocking their path and at times met by police using tear gas and water cannons.

Their brief takeover of the 17th-century fort, which was the palace of Mughal emperors, played out live Indian news channels. The farmers, some carrying ceremonial swords, ropes and sticks, overwhelmed police. In a profoundly symbolic challenge to Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government, the protesters who stormed Red Fort hoisted a Sikh religious flag.

“The situation is normal now. The protesters have left the streets of the capital,″ New Delhi police officer Anto Alphonse said Wednesday morning.

The protesting farmers’ groups are scheduled to meet later Wednesday to discuss the future course of action. Another march is planned for Feb. 1 when the Modi government is scheduled to present the annual budget in Parliament.

Protest organizer Samyukt Kisan Morcha, or United Farmers’ Front, accused two outside groups of sabotage by infiltrating their otherwise peaceful movement.

“Even if it was a sabotage, we can’t escape responsibility,” said Yogendra Yadav, a protest leader.

Yadav said frustration had built up among the protesting farmers and “how do you control it if the government is not serious about what they have been demanding for two months.”

Several roads were closed again on Wednesday near the police headquarters and Connaught Place areas following a protest by some retired Delhi police officers demanding prosecution of the protesting farmers who engaged in violence, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

Political analyst Arti Jerath said Tuesday’s violence will put the farmers’ organizations on their back foot.

“The Supreme Court has all along said the farmers can continue with the protest without disrupting the life in New Delhi. Tuesday’s development has given the government a handle to go to the top court and say see this is precisely what it was fearing that it would turn violent. ”

Tuesday’s escalation overshadowed Republic Day celebrations, including the annual military parade that was already scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities shut some metro train stations, and mobile internet service was suspended in some parts of the capital, a frequent tactic of the government to thwart protests.

The farmers — many of them Sikhs from Punjab and Haryana states — tried to march into New Delhi in November but were stopped by police. Since then, unfazed by the winter cold and frequent rains, they have hunkered down at the edge of the city and threatened to besiege it if the farm laws are not repealed.

Neeraja Choudhury, a political analyst, said the government failed to anticipate what was coming and prepare for it adequately. “If the farmers are agitated overall India, you can’t dismiss the protests as some opposition inciting the farmers.”

Anil Kumar, a police spokesman, said more than 300 police personnel were injured in clashes with farmers. Several of them jumped into a deep dry drain in the fort area to escape the protesters who outnumbered them at several places.

Police said one protester died after his tractor overturned, but farmers said he was shot. Several bloodied protesters could be seen in television footage.

Police said the protesting farmers broke away from the approved protest routes and resorted to “violence and vandalism.” Eight buses and 17 private vehicles were damaged, said police, who filed four cases over vandalism against the protesters.

The government insists the agricultural laws passed by Parliament in September will benefit farmers and boost production through private investment. But the farmers fear it will turn agricultural corporate and leave them behind. The government has offered to suspend the laws for 18 months, but the farmers want nothing less than a full repeal.

Since returning to power for a second term, Modi’s government has been rocked by several convulsions. The pandemic sent India’s already-teetering economy into its first-ever recession, social strife has widened and his government has been questioned over its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, the year that witnessed the first major protests against his administration, a diverse coalition of groups rallied against a contentious new citizenship law that they said discriminated against Muslims.

“The government on the national security front has failed. I think this government seems to be quite blinkered on the kind of security challenges that it is creating for itself by alienating minority communities, Muslims and Sikhs,” said Arti Jerath, a political analyst.

India is predominantly Hindu while Muslims comprise 14% and Sikhs nearly 2% of its nearly 1.4 billion people.

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Indian man accused of beheading teen daughter in apparent “honor killing” – CBS News

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/indian-man-accused-of-beheading-teen-daughter-in-apparent-honor-killing/

Indian man accused of beheading teen daughter in apparent "honor killing" - CBS News

Indian police have arrested a man and accused him of decapitating his own teenage daughter in a rage over her relationship with another man he didn’t like, BBC News reported on Thursday, in what appears to be the latest gruesome case of so-called “honor killing” in the Asian nation. Police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh said Sarvesh Kumar was arrested as he walked toward the local police station carrying his daughter’s head.

BBC News said the local police released a video of Kumar confessing to the crime, in which he explains that he was enraged to learn of his daughter’s relationship, came home to find her alone, locker her in a room and decapitated her with a sharp object.

Neighbors reported to the police the sight of Kumar apparently carrying his daughter’s head through their district of Hardoi on Wednesday after he committed the alleged crime.

Delhi Congress Protests Against Dalit Atrocities And Women Harassment
Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee members protest against atrocities against women from minority communities in the country, November 5, 2020 in New Delhi, India.

Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times/Getty


Honor crimes are a major problem in India, neighboring Pakistan, and other countries where family members — most often women and girls — are attacked and even killed by their relatives for brining perceived shame onto the family. Such crimes are more common in rural communities where centuries-old traditions and deep-rooted cultural norms still dictate the rules of everyday life.

According to the BBC, while there are no official statistics, hundreds of people are believed to be killed in India every year by family members over relationships or marriages that went against the wishes of their parents or other elders.

Honor crime is just one aspect of a much wider problem of violence against women and girls that India has been grappling with for years. The BBC said that statistics compiled by India’s National Crime Records Bureau showed more crimes were committed against women last year in Uttar Pradesh than any other Indian state.


India’s women revolt against a culture of rap…

02:43

In March 2020, India hanged four men for the brutal gang rape of a paramedical student in Delhi in 2012. The rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman triggered massive street protests across India and brought global attention to the plight of India’s women.

But CBS News’ Arshad R. Zargar reported, that little has changed despite the outpouring of public rage. Government data released in September 2020 that showed an average of 87 rapes were reported every day the previous year – a rise of more than 7% from 2018. 

In January an Indian court’s ruling that groping a child can’t be considered sexual assault as long as there’s no “skin-to-skin contact” or “sexual intent” was widely criticized by rights activists.

The ruling by Bombay High Court Justice Pushpa V. Ganediwala cleared a 39-year-old man who had been accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in 2016 of wrongdoing.

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SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing … then blows up – NBC News

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/space/spacex-starship-rocket-prototype-nails-landing-blows-rcna341

SpaceX Starship rocket prototype nails landing ... then blows up - NBC News

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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle face growing outrage over Oprah interview – Page Six

https://pagesix.com/2021/03/04/prince-harry-meghan-markle-refuse-to-delay-oprah-interview-report/

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle face growing outrage over Oprah interview - Page Six

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle faced mounting criticism Thursday as their tell-all TV special with Oprah Winfrey was set to still air even as Prince Philip recovers from a heart operation, according to a report.

British politicians have joined royal watchers in complaining about Sunday’s potentially explosive and damaging interview being aired while Queen Elizabeth II’s 99-year-old husband is in a London hospital.

Despite the growing outrage, sources close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told the Mail that it is up to CBS to delay the episode, which is set to air in the US Sunday night.

“It is ultimately up to CBS, we’re not involved in that side of things,” the source insisted to the outlet.

“As it stands, I don’t think there is any intention from the program maker to change its air date,” the source said.

Tory Member of Parliament (MP) Bob Blackman told the outlet the interview is simply “inappropriate.”

“To be doing a tell-all interview screened in the UK when he is in hospital … they are badly advised, to put it mildly.

“None of these royal interviews have gone well … and I can’t see this going any better,” he said.

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey
AP

He said ITV in the UK should not air the episode.

“Everyone’s sympathies should be for the Queen, a remarkable lady who has given a lifetime of service,” he said.

Another MP, who refused to be named, also griped to the outlet of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, “One day, I hope those two discover what it is really like to have problems.”

Meanwhile, royal sources previously told the Telegraph that the family is focused on Philip’s wellbeing and not the interview.

“The family is very worried about him and their thoughts are very much with him rather than this Oprah interview. They have much more important things to worry about,” a source told the UK paper.

CBS did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

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Texas Gov. Abbott blames Covid spread on immigrants, criticizes Bidens Neanderthal comment – CNBC

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/04/texas-gov-abbott-blames-covid-spread-on-immigrants-criticizes-bidens-neanderthal-comment-.html

Texas Gov. Abbott blames Covid spread on immigrants, criticizes Bidens Neanderthal comment - CNBC

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday criticized President Joe Biden for calling his decisions to lift Covid-19 restrictions and mask mandates earlier this week “Neanderthal thinking” and blamed the state’s ongoing outbreak on undocumented immigrants.

Abbott’s comments come after his widely criticized decision on Tuesday to rescind most of the state’s Covid-19 restrictions, including a statewide mask mandate. Texas businesses will be allowed to open “100%,” effective March 10, he said. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves made a similar move at roughly the same time.

Biden on Wednesday slammed the governors for what he said was a “big mistake” and added that “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking.”

Abbott told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the comment was “not the type of word that a president should be using” and blamed the spread of the coronavirus on immigrants crossing the southern border. The Republican governor said the Biden administration has “refused to test” them for the virus.

“The Biden administration has been releasing immigrants in South Texas that have been exposing Texans to Covid. Some of those people have been put on buses, taking that Covid to other states in the United States,” Abbott told CNBC. “That is Neanderthal-type approach to dealing with the Covid situation.”

While the Republican governor didn’t provide specifics, Telemundo reported on Tuesday that some migrants released by Border Patrol in the Texas city of Brownsville subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. Since the city began testing on Jan. 25, 108 migrants have tested positive for Covid-19, which is 6.3% of all those who took a test, according to the report.

“The Biden administration must stop importing Covid into our country,” Abbott said.

Top U.S. health officials have repeatedly urged states not to lift Covid-19 restrictions as nationwide coronavirus cases and deaths stall and highly transmissible variants threaten to “hijack” the recent decline in infections.

However, Abbott defended his decision to lift the state’s mask requirements, claiming that Texans already know that “the safe standard, among other things, is to wear a mask.”

“Do they really need the state to tell them what they already know for their own personal behavior?” Abbott told CNBC.

The governor added that the state’s coronavirus infections are “at four-month lows” and Texas hospitals stand ready to treat an influx of patients if needed. Texas is reporting a daily average of roughly 7,265 new cases over the last week, a drop compared with the peak of more than 20,400 daily cases the state reported in January, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

However, new infections have started to creep back up across the state, with average daily new cases growing by nearly 13% compared with a week ago.

Abbott said most of the state’s coronavirus spread over the holiday was driven by indoor gatherings, not by restaurants and other businesses. The newly lifted restrictions “are not really that transformative” because the state’s mask mandate wasn’t enforced and businesses were already at 75% capacity, he said.

“Maybe to people in New York it seems like this is a big difference,” Abbott said.

— CNBC’s Will Feuer contributed to this report.

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Michael Strahan Said Chris Harrisons Apology Over The “Bachelor” Racism Controversy Was A “Surface Response” – BuzzFeed News

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/clarissajanlim/chris-harrison-michael-strahan-bachelor-apology

Michael Strahan Said Chris Harrisons Apology Over The "Bachelor" Racism Controversy Was A "Surface Response" - BuzzFeed News

Chris Harrison, the longtime host of the Bachelor franchise, has apologized again for his comments excusing a current contestant’s alleged racist past and said he wants to return as host after his leave of absence.

“I am an imperfect man. I made a mistake and I own that,” he said in an interview with Michael Strahan on Good Morning America that aired Thursday. “I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to the progress not just for myself but also for the franchise.”

But Harrison’s apology was “nothing more than a surface response on any of this,” Strahan said after the interview. “Obviously he’s a man who wants to clearly stay on the show, but only time will tell if there’s any meaning behind his words.”

This season, which has the first Black male lead in the franchise’s nearly 20-year history, has been mired in controversy after photos surfaced of frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell attending an Antebellum plantation-themed party. She also allegedly liked photos of people posing in front of a Confederate flag, among other accusations.

Harrison then defended Kirkconnell, who was the only white woman Bachelor Matt James chose for his final four, and dismissed criticism of her behavior. During an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black female lead on the franchise, Harrison brushed aside the severity of Kirkconnell’s actions and suggested that plantation-themed parties were acceptable in 2018.

Facing heavy backlash from some fans and several former contestants, he later apologized for his comments and announced that he would be “stepping aside for a period of time.”

In his interview Thursday, the host walked back his defense of Kirkconnell, saying, “Antebellum parties are not OK — past, present, future. Knowing what that represents is unacceptable.”

He also said that he wants to return to the franchise.

“I plan to be back and I want to be back,” he said. “This interview is not the finish line, there is much more work to be done and I am excited to be a part of that change.”

The racial controversy this season has overshadowed the significance of the first Black male lead in the franchise’s overwhelmingly white history.

Lindsay, the former Bachelorette who challenged Harrison about his comments on Kirkconnell, has also been targeted with threats and hateful comments on Instagram. She recently deactivated her account.

Harrison apologized to Lindsay for what he said during their interview, but told Strahan that he has not spoken to her since she left the social media platform.

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