FBI opens over 160 investigations against Capitol Hill rioters

Agencies
January 13, 2021

FBI opens more than 160 cases over riots, tightens inauguration security

Washington, Jan 13: The FBI has opened more than 160 investigations against the January 6 Capitol Hill rioters, officials said, and asserted this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The agency has worked hand-in-hand with the United States Attorney's Office and law enforcement partners in DC and across the country to arrest and charge multiple individuals who took part in last week's breach of the US Capitol, FBI Washington Field Office Assistant Director In-Charge Steven M D'Antuono told reporters at a news conference.

"In six days, we have opened over 160 case files, and that's just the tip of the iceberg," he said, adding the FBI has received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media.

D'Antuono said the FBI will be knocking on the doors of the people who participated in the attack on the Capitol. "But before we do this, this is your opportunity to come forward as several individuals involved in Wednesday's riots have done," he added.

In the weeks leading up to the January 6 rally, the FBI, D'Antuono said, developed some intelligence that a number of individuals were planning to travel to the DC area with intentions to cause violence.

This was immediately shared and action was taken as demonstrated by the arrest of Enrique Tario by the Metropolitan Police Department the night before the rally, he said.

Other individuals were identified in other parts of the country and their travel subsequently disrupted, D'Antuono noted.

Acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Michael Sherwin, said the scope and scale of the investigation in these cases are really unprecedented not only in FBI history but also probably in the history of the Department of Justice in which the Capitol grounds outside and inside are essentially crime scenes.

"And a scale in which we have literally thousands of potential witnesses and a scenario in which we are going to have, I believe, hundreds of criminal cases both filed with our local courts, our superior courts, and through the federal court system," he said, noting this is going to be a long-term investigation.

Sherwin said as many as 170 cases of investigations have already been opened. "And I anticipate that's going to grow to the hundreds in the coming weeks," he said.

Federal prosecutors, he said, are looking at everything from simple trespass to theft of mail and digital devices inside the Capitol to assault on local and federal officers, both outside and inside the Capitol, and also theft of potential national security information or national defence information, felony murder and even civil rights excessive force investigations.

Sherwin said that two pipe bombs were found outside the RNC and the DNC offices near the Capitol grounds. "They were real devices. They had explosive ignitors. They had timers. We don't know exactly why they did not go off. That's being investigated. They were destroyed, disabled by Capitol Police with the assistance of the ATF, and that is all obviously being vetted and investigated," he said.

The FBI has announced a reward of USD 5,000 for any information leading to identification of the individual or individuals that left the pipe bombs.

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News Network
January 10,2021

Wuhan, Jan 10: It is the world’s most pressing scientific puzzle, but experts warn there may never be conclusive answers over the source of the coronavirus, after an investigative effort marked from the start by disarray, Chinese secrecy and international rancour.

January 11 marks the anniversary of China confirming its first death from Covid-19, a 61-year-old man who was a regular at the now-notorious Wuhan wet market.

Nearly two million deaths later, the pandemic is out of control across much of the world, leaving tens of millions ill, a pulverised global economy and recriminations flying between nations.

Yet China, which has broadly controlled the pandemic on its soil, is still frustrating independent attempts to trace the virus’ origins and the central question of how it jumped from animals to humans.

There is little dispute that the virus which brought the world to its knees sparked its first known outbreak in late 2019 at a wet market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan where wildlife was sold as food, and the pathogen is believed to have originated in an undetermined bat species.

But the trail ends there, clouded by a mishmash of subsequent clues that suggest its origins may predate Wuhan as well as conspiracy theories — amplified by US President Donald Trump — that it leaked from a Wuhan lab.

Establishing the source is vital for extinguishing future outbreaks early, leading virologists say, providing clues that can guide policy decisions on whether to cull animal populations, quarantine affected persons, or limit wildlife hunting and other human-animal interactions.

“If we can identify why they (viruses) keep emerging, we can reduce those underlying drivers,” said Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a global NGO focused on infectious disease prevention.

China won early kudos for reporting the virus and releasing its gene sequence in a timely manner, compared with its cover-up of the 2002-03 SARS outbreak.

But there has also been secrecy and shifting stories.

Wuhan authorities initially tried to cover up the outbreak and later spent precious weeks denying human-to-human transmission.

Early on, Chinese officials declared flatly that the outbreak began at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan.

But Chinese data in January 2020 showed that several of the first cases had no known links to the now-shuttered market, suggesting a source elsewhere.

China’s story morphed again last March when top Chinese disease control official Gao Fu said the market was not the source, but a “victim”, a place where the pathogen was merely amplified.

But China has since failed to publicly connect any dots, releasing scant information on animal and environmental samples taken at the market that could aid investigators, experts say.

And it has kept foreign experts at arm’s length, with a planned mission by World Health Organization virus sleuths now in limbo after China denied them entry.

On Saturday, a top Chinese health official said the country was now “ready” for the 10-strong team and opened the door to a visit to Wuhan.

Yet “the specific time is being determined”, National Health Commission vice minister Zeng Yixin told reporters.

What the scientists will be allowed to see or may expect to find a year on is also in doubt. Experts say authorities may have destroyed or scrubbed away crucial evidence in a panicked initial response.

“Every outbreak goes the same way. It’s chaotic and dysfunctional,” said Daszak.

“They didn’t do a great job on the animal investigation early on,” he added.

“In some ways, they were quite open, in others they were less than open.”

The reasons for China’s secrecy are unclear, but the ruling Communist Party has a history of suppressing politically damaging information.

Whistleblowers and citizen reporters who shared details of the terrifying early weeks of the virus on the internet have since been muzzled or jailed.

Beijing may want to hide regulatory or investigative lapses to avoid domestic embarrassment or global “blowback”, said Daniel Lucey, a Georgetown University epidemiologist who closely tracks global outbreaks.

The Wuhan market might not even be the issue, Lucey adds.

He notes that the virus was already spreading rapidly in Wuhan by December 2019, indicating that it was in circulation much earlier.

That’s because it may take months or even years for a virus to develop the necessary mutations to become highly contagious among humans.

The market-origin theory is “just not plausible whatsoever”, Lucey said.

“It occurred naturally and it had to have been many months earlier, perhaps a year, perhaps more than a year.”

Augmenting the doubt, in December China said the number of coronavirus cases circulating in Wuhan may have been 10 times higher early in the epidemic than revealed by official figures at the time.

The trail has now gone cold, with the drip of subsequent clues only adding to the confusion, including findings that the virus may have existed in Europe and Brazil before Wuhan’s outbreak, unconfirmed suggestions which China has seized upon to deflect blame.

Daszak remains hopeful the source can be found, especially after US President Donald Trump’s re-election loss.

He blames Trump for killing cooperation with China by politicising the virus — typified by his “China virus” label — and his administration’s promotion of the conspiracy theory that China created it in a lab, which scientists reject.

“I’m confident we will eventually find out the bat species it came from and the likely pathway,” Daszak said.

Others are less certain.

Diana Bell, a wildlife disease expert at the University of East Anglia who has studied the SARS virus, Ebola and other pathogens, said focusing on a particular origin species is misguided.

She says the overarching threat has already been exposed: a global wildlife trade that fosters a “combustible mix” of trafficked species, a known breeding ground for disease outbreaks.

“(The species) actually doesn’t matter. We don’t need to know the source, we just need to stop that sodding mixing of animals in markets,” she said.

“We need to stop the wildlife trade for human consumption.”

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Agencies
January 19,2021

Manipur-journalists.jpg

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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Agencies
January 19,2021

Gill fifty takes India to 83/1 at lunch on day five

Brisbane, Jan 19: Injury-hit India team rose from the ashes to hold on to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in one of the greatest Test victories against Australia. 

India scripted a story of grit, guts and glory at Brisbane Test as it scored 329 against Australia. 

India beat Australia by three wickets in the fourth Test in Brisbane, pulling off a record run-chase in a thrilling final session to hand Australia their first defeat at Brisbane's Gabba ground since 1988.

A fearless India, driven by its courageous youngsters, pulled of an exhilarating three-wicket win over Australia in the fourth Test to claim the series 2-1 and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy here on Tuesday.

Resuming at four for none on the final day, India overhauled the target with 18 balls to spare in a match that went down to the wire.

Rishabh Pant led the chase with his aggressive yet mature unbeaten 89 while Shubman Gill scored 91.

Cheteshwar Pujara enduring many a painful blows on his body in his dogged 56-run knock that he raised with a 211-ball vigil.

Australia had won the pink-ball Adelaide Test while India struck back with a victory in Melbourne. The third Test in Sydney had ended in a draw.

India had won a historic Test series Down Under two years back and now the team is cherishing back-to-back series victory.

The visitors had lost the ODI series before winning the T20 series that preceded the Test rubber.

At the start, India lost experienced vice captain Rohit Sharma (7) early but young Gill rose to the occasion with an impressive knock that kept India in the hunt as Pujara dug heels on the other end.

Rahane did try to build on the good start with his short but attacking 24-run knock before his sift dismissal.

With Pant's ability to strike the ball at brisk pace, India always had a chance to got for the kill.

Pant pulled off some breathtaking cover drives off Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in the final session though he benefitted from missed stumping chance. 

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