Google, Facebook, Microsoft halt political contributions after Capitol riot

Agencies
January 12, 2021

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Washington, Jan 12: Facebook, Google and Microsoft have announced that they were freezing political contributions from their political action committees (PAC) in the wake of the January 6 riot in the US Capitol by President Donald Trump's supporters.

"Following last week's awful violence in D.C., we are pausing all of our PAC contributions for at least the current quarter, while we review our policies," Xinhua news agency quoted Facebook spokesman Andy Stone as saying in a statement on Monday.

Alphabet Inc's Google said it would pause contributions from its PAC.

"We have frozen all NetPAC political contributions while we review and reassess its policies following last week's deeply troubling events," a Google spokesperson said.

Microsoft said the company is halting its political spending until after it assesses the implications of last week's events.

"The PAC regularly pauses its donations in the first quarter of a new Congress, but it will take additional steps this year to consider these recent events and consult with employees," the company said in a statement.

Also on Monday night, Amazon announced that it will pause donations from its PAC to lawmakers who voted against the certification of the presidential election results.

"We intend to discuss our concerns directly with those Members we have previously supported and will evaluate their responses as we consider future PAC contributions," an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement.

The attack on the Capitol building took place on January 6 while Congress was in session considering the ratification of the electoral college votes electing Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Before the violence, Trump, who has claimed that their election was invalid because there was massive fraud, told a rally of his supporters before the Congress session began to go there.

A section of his supporters stormed the Capital and invaded the Senate chamber and the offices of the Speaker and others, bring the session to a halt and evacuating the legislators to safe places.

Five people, including a police officer, were killed during the riots.

Congress met later and put its seal on the election of Biden and Harris, who will be sworn-in on January 20.

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Arab News
January 11,2021

Jeddah, Jan 11: The Saudi Health Ministry has said that its vaccination campaign is key to achieving herd immunity after it revealed that more than 178,000 of the Kingdom’s residents have received a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) jab.

“We aim to provide the vaccine to all and build herd immunity in Saudi Arabia,” said Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly. “We believe that this is the most powerful way to achieve herd immunity, which in return will provide optimum protection from the virus.”

As a testament to the success of precautionary measures, the number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom has steadily declined since peaking in mid-June last year.

In a press conference on Sunday, the ministry spokesman said that indicators have shown a 97.6 percent decrease in cases since the peak. “This reflects the level of control Saudi Arabia has on the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

The ministry reported 117 new COVID-19 cases, raising the total number of infections since the start of the pandemic in March last year to 363,809.

The number of active cases has dropped below the 2,000 case mark, with 1,970 active cases, 309 of which are in critical care units — an 86.6 percent decrease since a peak during last summer.

Only three of the Kingdom’s 13 regions recorded case numbers in the double digits. Riyadh led with 47, while Makkah and the Eastern Province both recorded 22 cases each. Najran and Al-Jouf reported one case each.

The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the Kingdom has also fallen. With Sunday’s five fatalities, Dr. Al-Abd Al-Aly said that there has been a 91.4 percent decline since the peak mortality rate seen last summer.

There were 166 new recoveries reported, raising the total number of recoveries to 355,548. The Kingdom’s recovery rate remains steady at 97.7 percent.

The spokesman said that the recovery rate rose dramatically following the Kingdom’s battle to detect the disease early and provide patients with top healthcare.

More than 11.3 million polymerase chain reaction tests have been conducted in the Kingdom since the beginning of the pandemic, including 28,324 completed over the past 24 hours.

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Agencies
January 16,2021

Saudi Arabia to appoint women as court judges 'very soon' | Arab News

Riyadh, Jan 16: Saudi Arabia will soon appoint female judges in a landmark move to empower women, Hind Al-Zahid the undersecretary for women’s empowerment at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, announced on Friday.

Recently, Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani issued directives to appoint 100 women notaries for facilitating judicial services for women.

The ministry also recently appointed many qualified women in the fields of law, Shariah, sociology, administration, and technology in the ministry for the first time.

Justice Ministry has been focusing on female employment within the legal sector as part of its plans to support and empower women, widen their career options, and help them play a bigger role in this sector.

Al-Zahid, speaking to Al-Arabiya TV on Friday, stressed that the government is committed to empowering women.

She pointed out that the rate of Saudi women's participation in the labor market has reached 31 percent, surpassing the target set for 2025, which was at 25 percent.

Regarding the lack of female leaders in the public sector, Al-Zahid attributed that to the late entry of women in many ministries and agencies. She pointed out that the percentage of women leaders in the Ministries of Education and Health is the highest compared to other bodies, and attributed this to the early work of women in these two ministries.

Al-Zahid reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s seriousness in supporting women empowerment, at several levels, to enter the labor market, or remain in the labor market through a supportive environment, equal opportunities, and to reach leadership positions. She added that the neutral international indicators reflected the Kingdom's progress in supporting women's empowerment at all levels.

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Agencies
January 19,2021

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Imphal, Jan 19: A day after detaining two Manipur editors on sedition charges after the publication of an article "supporting revolutionary ideology" in their online news portal, the police on Monday released the duo after they admitted that the write-up was published due to oversight, the police said.

The police said that Paojel Chaoba, Executive Editor of The Frontier Manipur, and Dhiren Sadokpam, Editor-in-chief of the online news portal, were detained on Sunday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.

The suo-motu police action was followed by the publication of an article -- "Revolutionary journey in a mess" -- written by one M. Joy Luwang on January 8, criticising the "revolutionary groups" of Manipur for moving away from their original cause.

The police said that the two editors were detained as part of the probe over the publication of the write-up.

"We have released the detainees after they admitted in writing that the source of the article was unverified and it was published due to oversight and such mistakes would not recur," a police officer told IANS over phone.

The officer, on condition of anonymity, said that the write-up had openly "endorsed revolutionary ideologies and activities and expressed dismay over the deteriorating character of armed revolutionaries of Manipur in the past many years".

A delegation of All Manipur Working Journalists' Union (AMWJU) and Editors' Guild Manipur had met Chief Minister N. Biren Singh earlier on Monday, demanding the release of the two scribes.

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