India’s ruling party and its allies have won a key state election seen as a barometer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and his regional ally Janata Dal United won 125 seats of Bihar state’s 243-seat legislature. A coalition of more than three parties opposed to the incumbent alliance, including the Congress, was trailing with 110 seats.
The counting process took much longer than usual as more electronic voting machines were deployed to avoid crowding in polling centres in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus. Bihar in eastern India is its second-most populous state and one of its poorest. Control of the key electoral battleground was seen as a referendum on Modi’s popularity. Modi’s second term has been marked by a shrinking economy, widening social strife, numerous protests against discriminatory laws and the government reaction to the pandemic.
The UN’s atomic watchdog agency said Iran continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far beyond the limits set in a landmark nuclear deal with world powers and to enrich it to a greater purity than permitted. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press that Iran as of Nov. 2 had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) reported on Aug. 25.
The nuclear deal signed in 2015 allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds). The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the deal. Iran has openly announced all violations of the nuclear deal in advance, which have followed the decision by the U.S. to pull out unilaterally in 2018.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers announced they would resign en masse after four of them were ousted from the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s Legislature in a move one legislator said could sound the “death knell” for democracy there. The resignation of the 15 remaining pro-democracy lawmakers will ratchet up tensions over the future of Hong Kong, a former British colony that has long been a regional financial hub and bastion of Western-style civil liberties but over which China’s government has increasingly tightened its control. A new national security law imposed by Beijing this year has alarmed the international community.
The mass departure leaves Hong Kong’s Legislature with only pro-Beijing lawmakers, who already made up a majority but can now pass bills favoured by Beijing without much opposition. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defended the removal of the 4 legislators, saying legislators must act properly and that the city needs a body comprised of patriots.
A Vatican investigation into former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick found that bishops, cardinals and popes downplayed or dismissed multiple reports of sexual misconduct and determined that Pope Francis merely continued his predecessors’ handling of the predator until taking action when a former altar boy alleged abuse. The Vatican took the extraordinary step of publishing its two-year, 449-page internal investigation into the American prelate’s rise and fall this week, in a bid to restore credibility to the U.S. and Vatican hierarchies, which have been shattered by the McCarrick scandal.
The report put the lion’s share of blame on the late Pope John Paul II, who appointed McCarrick archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000, despite having commissioned an inquiry that confirmed he slept with seminarians. The report found that John Paul believed a last-minute, handwritten denial. McCarrick, 90, was defrocked by Francis last year after a Vatican investigation confirmed the globe-trotting envoy and fundraiser had sexually molested adults as well as children.