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India's farmers renew protests, challenging Modi government

India's farmers renew protests, challenging Modi government

Thousands of Indian farmers are blocking major roads and railway tracks outside the capital of New Delhi, marking one year of protests against agricultural laws that they say will shatter their livelihoodsBy RISHI LEKHI Associated PressSeptember 27, 2021, 8:42 AM• 4 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW DELHI — Thousands of Indian farmers blocked traffic on major roads and railway tracks outside of the nation’s capital on Monday, marking one year of demonstrations against government-backed laws that they say will shatter their livelihoods.The farmers have renewed their protests with calls for a nationwide strike on the anniversary of the legislation’s passage. The drawn-out demonstrations have posed one of the biggest political challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who swept the polls for the second time in 2019.Waving colorful flags and distributing free food, hundreds of farmers gathered Monday at one of the protest sites on the edges of the capital, New Delhi.“The enthusiasm we had on the first day, it is much stronger and bigger now,” said Manjit Singh, a 45-year-old farmer and protester.Mohini Kaur, a 61-year-old New Delhi resident traveled to the protest site to show her support for the farmers.“These lion-hearted farmers are here today under the hot sun. They have been exposed to rain, heat and the cold,” she said.Protesters expressed their determination to keep the movement going — some even brought mattresses with them, camping out as the day went on.Along New Delhi’s southwest and eastern fringes, protesting farmers crowded highways, choking traffic and cutting off access from the capital to neighboring states. Police were deployed to three main protest sites on the outskirts of the city to maintain law and order.A coalition of farmers’ unions — known as the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or United Farmers’ Front — has called on shops, offices, factories and other institutions to shut their doors in solidarity for the 10-hour strike. The calls for a strike, however, seemed to go largely unanswered, with most businesses continuing work as usual continuing across the capital.The government has defended the legislation, saying it is necessary to modernize agriculture and that the laws will boost production through private investment. But the farmers say the new legislation will devastate their earnings by ending guaranteed pricing and force them to sell their crops to corporations at cheaper prices.In neighboring Punjab and Haryana states — which are the country’s the two biggest agricultural producers — thousands of demonstrators also blocked highways, bringing traffic to a halt in some areas.In the eastern state of Bihar, trains were halted as farmers squatted on railway tracks. Protesters also took to the streets, raising slogans against the Modi government, burning tires and blocking roads across the region. Police said some 500 protesters had been taken into custody, but added that the shutdown remained peaceful.In the southern city of Bengaluru on Monday, hundreds of people marched in support of the protest against the government. In the southern state of Kerala, the ruling Left Democratic Front called for a total shutdown, reported local media.Opposition parties in India, including the Congress Party, have supported the farmers. Senior leader Rahul Gandhi called the government “exploitative” and said he stood with farmers on Monday.A number of talks between the government and farmers have failed to resolve the issue.In November, the farmers escalated their movement by hunkering down on the outskirts of New Delhi, where they have camped out for nearly a year, pushing through a harsh winter as well as a coronavirus surge that devastated India earlier this year.While the farmers’ protest movement has been largely peaceful, demonstrators in January broke through police barricades to storm the historic Red Fort in the capital’s center. Clashes with police left one protester dead and hundreds injured.———Associated Press writers Indrajit Singh in Patna and Aijaz Rahi in Bengaluru contributed.

Business economists lower growth forecasts due to virus

The nation’s business economists now expect slower economic growth this year due to the widespread delta variant of the coronavirus, while also saying the economy could improve more quickly next year as vaccinations become more acceptedBy The Associated PressSeptember 27, 2021, 8:32 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleNEW YORK — The nation’s business economists now expect slower economic growth this year due to the widespread delta variant of the coronavirus, while also saying the economy could improve more quickly next year as vaccinations become more accepted.In a survey being released Monday, the National Association of Business Economists found that its panel now expects full-year economic growth of 5.6%, down from a forecast for 6.7% growth in NABE’s previous survey in May. However, economists raised their forecast for 2022 economic growth to 3.5% from a previous outlook of 2.8%.The NABE’s findings are based on the responses of 47 forecasters earlier this month.Inflation should remain at elevated levels through the fourth quarter before moderating next year, the panelists predict. Consumers have faced sharply higher prices for goods and services this year as businesses deal with an unprecedented jump in wholesales prices.While NABE’s survey now sees inflation coming in this year at a hot 5.1% year-over-year, economists appear to believe the higher prices will mostly prove to be temporary. Inflation is expected to moderate next year to a level of 2.4%.The coronavirus remains the dominant variable around how the U.S. economy will do for the rest of the year and into 2022, according to NABE. Roughly two-thirds of those surveyed see a potential vaccine-resistant version of the coronavirus being the biggest risk to the economy. A faster rollout of vaccines, however, would provide the biggest upside to the economy this year and next year, roughly half of the panelists said.NABE’s panelists were split on the issue of there being a potential labor shortage. About 44% of panelists said their companies were not experiencing any labor shortages or issues, while 35% said they were seeing a labor shortage. One in five panelists did not know or was unsure.

Asian shares mixed as virus fears cloud economic outlook

Asian shares mixed as virus fears cloud economic outlook

Asian shares are mixed as skepticism about the regional economic outlook tempered any rally because of worries about further waves of COVID-19 outbreaksBy YURI KAGEYAMA AP Business WriterSeptember 27, 2021, 8:31 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO — Asian shares were mixed Monday, as fears of further waves of coronavirus outbreaks clouded the economic outlook for the region, tempering gains.Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was little changed in afternoon trading, inching up less than 0.1% to 30,254.01 after zigzagging earlier in the day. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8% to 7,404.30. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2% to 3,131.83. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.7% to 24,360.55, while the Shanghai Composite shed 0.6% to 3,591.49.Japan’s ruling party holds an election later this week to choose a leader, who is likely to succeed Yoshihide Suga as prime minister after just one year in office. All the candidates are certain to stick to the nation’s pro-U.S. policies, despite some nuances in their views.They also are all promising to boost government spending to try to catalyze growth in the world’s third largest economy.Analysts also say Japan’s central bank “tankan” economic survey for the third quarter, due out Friday, likely will show a deterioration in business conditions because of various disruptions to supply chains and renewed outbreaks of COVID-19 in many regions.Although some parts of the world have lifted COVID-19 restrictions and are gradually returning to “normal” life, worries remain in Asia about further waves of infections because vaccine rollouts have been slower than the West in some nations.In Singapore, further COVID-19 restrictions kicked off in an attempt to curb the virus’ spread, as daily new cases have topped the city-state’s peak reached in April 2020.“”Overall, the manufacturing sector may remain resilient as seen from previous phases of restrictions, but the services sector may come under pressure. That said, previous business adjustments and softer tightening compared to past restriction phases may aid to reduce some impact,” said Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore.Wall Street closed out a choppy week of trading with a mixed finish for the major stock indexes, though the S&P 500 managed its first weekly gain in three weeks.The S&P 500 rose 0.1% to 4,455.48 and is now within 1.9% of the all-time high it set Sept. 2. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1% to 34,798. The Nasdaq slipped less than 0.1% to 15,047.70, while the Russell 2000 dropped 0.5% to 2,248.07.U.S. markets have had a rough September and investors could be in for more volatility given various concerns, including COVID-19 and its lingering impact on the economy, along with a slow recovery for the employment market.Worries over troubled Chinese real estate developer Evergrande are still weighing on global markets. Some Chinese banks on Friday disclosed what they are owed by Evergrande, seeking to dispel fears of financial turmoil as it struggles under $310 billion in debt.In energy trading, U.S. benchmark crude added 92 cents to $74.90 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 68 cents to $73.98 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 93 cents to $79.02 a barrel.In currency trading, the U.S. dollar inched down to 110.64 Japanese yen from 110.72 yen. The euro cost $1.1719, up from $1.1713.

The Latest: New Zealand to allow home isolation to travelers

The Latest: New Zealand to allow home isolation to travelers

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s prime minister says the government will start a pilot program of home-isolation for overseas travelers, ahead of what she expects to be increasing vaccination levels.Currently New Zealanders have to quarantine in hotels for two weeks when they return home from abroad.Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday a pilot program that will allow New Zealanders to quarantine at home will include 150 business travelers who arrive between Oct. 30 and Dec. 8. The program will involve monitoring and testing.“The only reason that we are running this self-isolation pilot now is in preparation for a highly vaccinated population,” Ardern said.“The intention is that in the first quarter of 2022 when more New Zealanders are vaccinated, it will be safer to run self-isolation at home,” she added.Of the eligible population in New Zealand aged 12 and older, 43% had been fully vaccinated, Ardern said.In Auckland, the nation’s most populous city which has been locked down since Aug. 17 after the highly-contagious delta variant leaked from hotel quarantine, 82% of the eligible population had at least a single dose of the double-shot Pfizer vaccine, she said.New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the coronavirus and has been trying to completely eliminate the delta variant.———MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:— U.S. has enough COVID-19 vaccines for boosters, kids’ shots— Rowdy celebrations erupt in Norway as COVID restrictions end— EXPLAINER: Who’s eligible for Pfizer booster shots in US?———See all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic———HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:SYDNEY — Australia’s prime minister says he expects his country to open its international border well before the end of the year.Australian governments have agreed to ease tight restrictions on overseas travel when 80% of the population aged 16 and older was fully vaccinated.Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the first steps would allow Australians to leave andfully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to return home.“That will occur before the end of the year. It could happen well before that,” Morrison told American broadcaster CBS News.More than 90% of the target age group in Australia’s most populous state and the worst impacted by the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak, New South Wales, will be vaccinated by the end of November, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.New South Wales reported 787 new locally acquired infections on Monday and 12 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.Sydney’s lockdown would ease on Oct. 11 after 70% of the state’s population had received second doses of vaccine, Berejiklian said. With 85% of the target population already injected with at least a single vaccine dose, the 80% target is expected to be reached two weeks after the 70% benchmark.On Dec. 1, unvaccinated people are expected to have their pandemic restrictions lifted.State Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said she expected 92% of the target population would eventually be vaccinated.New South Wales has the fastest vaccination rollout in Australia after the Australian Capital Territory.———SEATTLE — A Washington state trooper who helped develop the agency’s use of drones has died after a battle with COVID-19 contracted on duty.The Washington State Patrol said Detective Eric Gunderson died Sunday surrounded by his family and friends. He was 38. Gunderson frequently traveled around the country to speak about the state patrol’s use of drones.The patrol said he contracted COVID-19 on one of those trips. Gunderson helped investigate the 2017 Amtrak derailment in DuPont and his work is credited with reopening roads more quickly after crashes.He is survived by a wife and two sons. Gunderson’s death is the first line of duty death for the agency since it marked its 100th anniversary a few weeks ago, Chief John Batiste said. “How I had hoped our second century of service would be more forgiving. But serving the public, as we do, has inherent dangers and this pandemic has been a foe to our agency and indeed our state and nation,” he said.Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted his condolences to Gunderson’s family, friends and colleagues.———LOS ANGELES — Public health officials have identified more than 200 coronavirus outbreaks at police or fire agencies throughout Los Angeles County since the start of the pandemic, according to data obtained by the Los Angeles Times.The 211 outbreaks, accounting for more than 2,500 cases between March 2020 and last month, represent 9% of total workplace outbreaks across the county, the newspaper reported Sunday. However, they have continued to occur regularly even as vaccination rates increased among police and fire personnel and the number of individual coronavirus cases per outbreak has fallen since last winter.The data showed 38 outbreaks at public safety agencies were identified in April of this year — the most in any month since the start of the pandemic. A month later, 35 outbreaks — the second most — were recorded by the county Department of Public Health.Overall, more than half of the outbreaks occurred at the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department, where some employees have filed lawsuits challenging a new rule requiring them to be vaccinated by next month. Thousands have filed notice that they intend to claim a medical or religious exemption from the mandate.Vaccination rates for LAPD an LAFD employees generally lag behind the 68% of eligible county residents who have gotten their shots.Critics have accused the police officers and city firefighters of ignoring public safety — and their sworn duties to uphold it — by refusing to get vaccinated.

Israeli troops kill 5 Palestinians in West Bank gunbattles

Israeli troops kill 5 Palestinians in West Bank gunbattles

JERUSALEM — Israeli troops conducted a series of arrest raids against suspected Hamas militants across the occupied West Bank early Sunday, sparking a pair of gun battles in which five Palestinians were killed and two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded.It was the deadliest violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the West Bank in several weeks. The region has seen an increase in fighting in recent months, with tensions fueled by Israeli settlement construction, heightened militant activity in the northern West Bank and the aftermath of a bloody war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip last May.The Israeli military said it had been tracking the Hamas militants for several weeks and that the raids were launched in response to immediate threats.Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the militants were about to carry out attacks “in real time.” He praised the Israeli forces, saying they acted “as expected. They engaged the enemy and we back them completely.”In a statement, the military said it launched five simultaneous raids and soldiers opened fire after being shot at in two locations. It said five militants were killed and several others were arrested.It also said an officer and a soldier were seriously injured, possibly inadvertently by Israeli fire.The Palestinian Health Ministry said two Palestinians were shot dead near the northern West Bank city of Jenin and three others were killed in Biddu, north of Jerusalem.Hamas confirmed that four of the dead, including all three killed in Biddu, were members of the Islamic militant group. Palestinian officials said a 16-year-old boy was also among the dead, though it was not immediately known if he was a militant.The Palestinian Authority, which administers semi-autonomous areas in the West Bank, condemned the killings and said the Israeli government was “fully and directly responsible for this bloody morning and the crimes committed by the occupation forces.”But Hamas also criticized the Palestinian Authority, which maintains security coordination with Israel in a shared struggle against the Islamic group.Hamas spokesman Abdulatif al-Qanou said that recent meetings between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli officials “encouraged the occupation again to pursue the resistance.”Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip after seizing it from the Palestinian Authority in 2007, praised those killed as “heroic martyrs.” It called on its supporters to “devise tactics and means that harm the enemy and drain it with all possible forms of resistance.”Also Sunday, Israel released Khalida Jarrar, a prominent Palestinian lawmaker, after nearly two years in prison. Jarrar, a senior figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been in and out of Israeli prisons for years — often without being charged.The PFLP has an armed wing and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and Western countries, but Jarrar has not been implicated in attacks. She was sentenced to two years in prison in March for membership in a banned group but given credit for time already served. She was freed several weeks before her sentence was to end.Recent months have seen a rise in violence in the West Bank, with more than two dozen Palestinians killed in sporadic clashes with Israeli troops and during protests.Many of the clashes have occurred near Beita, a Palestinian village where residents regularly demonstrate against an unauthorized settlement outpost, and near Jenin, which is known as a militant stronghold.Last month, Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian gunmen during a late night raid in Jenin, killing four Palestinians. Sunday’s clashes came a week after Israel recaptured the last of six Palestinian fugitives who tunneled out of a maximum-security Israeli prison earlier this month. The escapees were from Jenin, and two were caught there after an extensive search.Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has established dozens of settlements where nearly 500,000 settlers reside. The Palestinians seek the West Bank as part of their future state and view the settlements as a major obstacle to resolving the conflict.Meanwhile in New York, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Sunday evening with officials from the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to mark this month’s first anniversary of Israel’s relations with the two Arab countries. The so-called Abraham Accords — signed under the Trump administration — have led to the opening of embassies, the launch of direct flights and a raft of agreements to boost economic ties.Speaking to Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and UAE Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry Khalifa Shaheen Almarar, Bennett said he wanted to assure them of continuity of the agreements since he replaced Benjamin Netanyahu.“We believe in this relationship and we want to expand it as much as possible,” Bennett said.The Israeli prime minister is to address the U.N. General Assembly’s annual meeting of world leaders on Monday morning.———Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer in New York contributed to this report.

Strong quake rattles Greek island of Crete

Strong quake rattles Greek island of Crete

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 has struck the southern Greek island of CreteByThe Associated PressSeptember 27, 2021, 8:20 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleATHENS, Greece — A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 struck the southern Greek island of Crete Monday morning, killing one person and injuring several more, authorities said.The quake sent people fleeing into the streets, while schools were evacuated. Repeated aftershocks were rattling the area, and local media reported damage in villages near the epicenter.The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake struck at 9:17 a.m. local time (0617 GMT), with an epicenter 246 kilometers (153 miles) south southeast of the Greek capital, Athens.The European-Mediterranean Seismological Center and the US Geological Survey gave a preliminary magnitude of 6.0, with an epicenter seven kilometers (4 miles) north of the village of Thrapsano. It is common for different seismological institutes to give varying magnitudes for an earthquake in the initial hours and days after an event.Greece’s Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Ministry said that according to reports from local authorities, one person had been killed and a further nine people suffered injuries. The details of the circumstances of the death and injuries were not immediately available.“This is not an event that occurred without warning. We have seen activity in this region for several months. This was a strong earthquake, it was not under sea but under land and affecting populated areas,” seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos said on Greece’s state broadcaster ERT.At least nine aftershocks also struck the area, with the EMSC giving a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 for the two strongest ones.Residents of the city of Heraklion rushed out into the streets. Local media in Crete reported damage, with collapsing walls of old stone buildings in villages near the epicenter of the temblor on the eastern part of the island.Heraklion mayor Vassilis Lambrinos told Greek Skai television that there were no immediate reports from emergency services of any injuries or severe damage. He said schools were all evacuated and were to be checked for structural damage.

Gabby Petito: Dispatch recordings show Utah police were told male struck female

Gabby Petito: Dispatch recordings show Utah police were told male struck female

Good morning and welcome to Fox News First. Here’s what you need to know as you start your day … Gabby Petito case: Dispatch recordings show Utah police were told male struck femaleMinutes after Utah police were told about a report of a man striking a woman and taking off in a white Ford Transit […]

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