Biden admin, US companies welcomed economic reforms by India: Sitharaman

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here said the Biden Administration and leaders from the corporate sector in the US have welcomed recent economic reforms introduced by her government.
“The reforms that we’ve undertaken, particularly the steps taken for the withdrawal of the retrospective tax has been mentioned by the United States Administration as a very positive step,” she said.
“The businesses with whom we have been interacting have also welcomed that decision,” Sitharaman told reporters here at the conclusion of the Washington DC-leg of her US trip.
From here, she will go to New York for an interactive session with the business community before flying back home.
She started her week-long trip from Boston.
“Many of them (businesses) thought it was bold and even though it took some time to come. We have also explained that they were legal compulsions before which we had to wait because some of the litigations which were going on had to come to a logical conclusion,” s

Authorities call fatal stabbing of UK lawmaker David Amess terrorist act

A long-serving member of Parliament was stabbed to death Friday during a meeting with constituents at a church in England, in what police said was a terrorist incident.
A 25-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack, which united Britain’s fractious politicians in shock and sorrow.
Counterterrorism officers were leading the investigation into the slaying of Conservative lawmaker David Amess.
In a statement early Saturday, the Metropolitan Police described the attack as terrorism and said the early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.
Amess, 69, was attacked around midday Friday at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, a town about 40 miles (62 kilometers) east of London.
Paramedics tried without success to save him. Police arrested the suspect and recovered a knife.
They did not identify the suspect, who was held on suspicion of murder. Police said they believed the suspect acted alone, and were not seeking anyone else in …

Trump-backed Republican, eyeing bid for Pennsylvania governor’s office, falsely suggests COVID-19 vaccines are not true vaccines

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano smiles in a suit
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin.

  • Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano was first elected in a 2019 special election.
  • His 33rd state senate district is located in the south-central part of the state.
  • He was reelected in 2020 with 68.6% of the vote. He says Pennsylvania’s election that year was fraudulent.

A Pennsylvania Republican who tried to block his state’s votes from being counted in the 2020 election held a fundraiser at a church on Thursday at which he mocked the notion of “herd immunity” and falsely suggested the vaccines against COVID-19 are not really vaccines at all.

At a political fundraiser hosted by the tax-exempt, evangelical Time Ministries Church in central Pennsylvania, Mastriano appeared to gear up for a potential run for governor in 2022, having previously claimed that former President Donald Trump personally asked him to do so. His remarks, aired live on Facebook, touched on opposition to vaccine mandates – a bill he introduced prohibits requiring any immunization – and rehashing claims that the 2020 election stolen.

“So now the healthcare workers, you’re in a bad spot there,” Mastriano said, blasting “Joe Biden’s edicts” that “you need to get the shot.”

“I guess I shouldn’t call it a ‘vaccine,'” Mastriano continued, a reference to false claims and disinformation that mRNA vaccines, such as the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are not true vaccines because they rely on a new medical technology to spur antibody production. The inoculation from Johnson & Johnson is a more traditional vector vaccine.

The vaccines, one of which has full FDA approval (Pfizer), and two others that have FDA emergency authorization (Moderna and J&J), are safe and effective at staving off severe cases of COVID-19, per Johns Hopkins.

rates of covid 19 cases chart, showing far higher rates for unvaccinated, but among vaccinated: j&j highest and moderna lowest

Mastriano, who also campaigned against mask-wearing and other public health measures during the pandemic, was himself infected with COVID-19 last year, learning of his positive test during a post-election meeting with Trump at the White House.

“And who ever heard this idea that you need to get the shot to protect other people?” Mastriano asked the small audience at the church. “You know when I was deployed overseas, and then you get all of these things shoved into your body, like any veteran does, it’s not there to protect the Afghans or Iraqis, it protects you. This is not even reasonable or logical,” he said.

Despite Mastriano’s suggestion that the benefits of mass inoculation are a novel argument for the COVID-19 vaccines, it is a basic tenet of modern immunology and a reason why, for example, schools in Pennsylvania require all students to be vaccinated against diseases such as polio, with few exemptions for medical and religious reasons.

As the Defense Department’s Military Health System explains, “When a vaccine is given to a significant portion of the population, it protects those who receive the vaccine as well as those who cannot receive the vaccine. This concept is called ‘herd immunity.’ When a high percentage of the population is vaccinated and immune to a disease, they do not get sick – so there is no one to spread the disease to others.”

Vaccines provide significant protection against infection, though there are sometimes breakthrough infections. That is why the military and schools have mandated many vaccines: to limit the chance that an unvaccinated person – far more likely to be carrying a virus – is in a position to test a vaccinated person’s immunity and cause a breakthrough case.

Flyer for event with Doug Mastriano.
Time Ministries Church encouraged attendees to donate to state Sen. Doug Mastriano’s political campaign.

At Thursday’s fundraiser, the state senator also pushed false claims about the 2020 election. Although Pennsylvania Republicans actually passed a ballot measure this year, limiting Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s ability to issue public health orders during a pandemic, Mastriano insisted the state’s elections are fraudulent, citing a debunked story about ballots being trucked in from New York reiterating his demand for a “forensic audit” like that carried out in Maricopa County, Arizona, which he witnessed over the summer.

“They had magnifying glasses on one of the machines, they could tell – apparently photocopies are pixelated…. it’s very clear that’s a compromised ballot,” he claimed.

But the partisan review in Arizona, commissioned by the state’s Republicans, did not find any such “compromised ballots,” despite being led by a group, Cyber Ninjas, that was committed to finding them. A third-party review of results in Pennsylvania’s Fulton County, pushed by Mastriano, likewise found no evidence of fraud.

Mastriano is no stranger to making inaccurate and incendiary claims about the last presidential election, a fact that has won him support from the loser of the contest.

As detailed in the interim staff report from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mastriano – who was outside the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, and chartered buses to bring protesters to Washington – last year urged acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue to investigate a slew of readily debunked claims of fraud.

For example, the state senator claimed more votes had been cast than there were voters in Pennsylvania, an assertion that failed to account for residents from Philadelphia, among other counties. Mastriano also took part in hearings organized by Rudy Giuliani, supporting the Trump campaign’s efforts to have Pennsylvania’s election results invalidated.

But Mastriano’s event on Thursday ended – at least online – not with talk of election fraud but with a question from the audience about his opposition to vaccine requirements. When a woman asked about the status of that effort in the state legislature, Mastriano made sure no one at home could hear his response.

“Kill my live feed back there,” he told an aide.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Philadelphia police will no longer pull people over for minor traffic stops that disproportionately affected Black drivers

A police officer looks over a car in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, Monday Dec. 15, 2014, that was being driven by a man who police shot and killed. Philadelphia police say an officer shot and killed the motorist who struggled with him and another officer during an early morning traffic stop.
A police officer looks over a car in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, that was being driven by a man who police shot and killed during an early morning traffic stop.

  • Several offenses, like improper display of registration, were reclassified under a new bill.
  • Nearly 97% of police vehicle stops are for low-level violations, the Defenders Association said.
  • Philadelphia is the first major US city to ban such stops, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Philadelphia City Council passed two bills that will create a public, searchable database of traffic stops and bar police officers from pulling over drivers for low-level motor vehicle offenses, a tactic that disproportionately impacted Black drivers.

One of the bills amended the city’s Traffic Code to reclassify seven offenses, including broken taillights and improperly displayed registration stickers, as “secondary violations,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. If a driver commits a secondary violation, police officers will issue a citation by mail rather than pulling over the offender.

Philadelphia is the first major US city to ban such stops, according to The Inquirer.

“Too many people who look like me, a traffic stop is a rite of passage – we pick out cars, we determine routes, we plan our social interactions around the fact that it is likely that we will be pulled over by police. By removing the traffic stops that promote discrimination rather than public safety, City Council has made our streets safer and more equitable,” Philadelphia City Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, author of the Driving Equality bills, said in a statement.

Because approximately 97% of police vehicle stops are for low-level violations, the ban could lead to as many as 300,000 fewer police encounters each year, the Defender Association told The Inquirer.

Data from Thomas’ office found Black drivers in Philadelphia accounted for 72% of police stops for vehicle code violations over the course of one year, while only 43% of the city’s population is Black, The Inquirer reported.

Thomas amended the bill banning traffic stops for low-level motor vehicle offenses last week to provide the Philadelphia Police Department 120 days for training and education before its implementation, according to the city council’s website.

The searchable traffic stop database must be developed within a year, according to the bill’s text, and include driver and officer information, demographic and geographic information, and the reason for each stop.

“Data will tell us if we should end more traffic stops or amend how this is enforced. Data will also tell other cities that Philadelphia is leading on this civil rights issue and it can be replicated,” Thomas said.

The bill has been sent to the desk of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney to be signed into law.

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Biden says he supports DOJ prosecution for those who defy subpoenas and hopes Jan. 6 Committee ‘goes after them’

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • Biden told reporters that he supports the prosecution of Trump allies not complying with subpoenas.
  • Trump’s legal team instructed former aides not to comply with subpoenas issued in September.
  • All members of the Jan. 6 Committee support prosecuting the non-compliant individuals.

President Joe Biden told reporters on Friday that he hopes the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the US Capitol goes after Trump allies who are not complying with subpoenas and that he supports the Justice Department prosecuting individuals who don’t comply.

“I hope that the committee goes after them and holds them accountable,” Biden said after landing on Marine One, according to CBS News.

In early October, Trump’s legal team instructed former aides subpoenaed by the committee, including Steve Bannon, not to comply with congressional subpoenas issued in September.

The committee had also requested documents from former Trump administration officials Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, and Kash Patel. Bannon’s team has now sent two letters to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, saying the former Trump adviser would not comply, and the other loyalists have followed suit.

On Wednesday, the White House counsel asked the National Archives to quickly turn over Trump-related documents to the committee, NBC News’ White House correspondent reported.

“The President further instructs you to provide those pages 30 days after your notification to the former President, absent any intervening court order,” the message said, according to NBC News.

Rep. Liz Cheney said on Tuesday that all members in the committee were prepared to bring criminal-contempt charges against anyone who ducks the subpoenas.

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Apple reportedly just fired another employee who brought attention to issues at the company

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers a keynote during the European Union's privacy conference at the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium October 24, 2018.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple just fired a staffer who helped organize employees at the company, The Verge reported.
  • Janneke Parrish was an Apple Maps program manager who helped create the #AppleToo worker movement.
  • Apple recently fired another staffer who complained of intimidation. Apple said she leaked confidential information.

Apple has reportedly fired an Apple Maps program manager who was one of the organizers of an internal worker movement, according to a report from The Verge.

Janneke Parrish was part of the group of Apple staff who created the #AppleToo website, which enabled staff across the company to report personal stories that could “help expose persistent patterns of racism, sexism, inequity, discrimination, intimidation, suppression, coercion, abuse, unfair punishment, and unchecked privilege.”

According to The Verge, Parrish was fired “for deleting files off of her work devices during an internal investigation.” The files in question are said to be apps, and only three are named: Robinhood, Google Drive, and Pokemon Go.

Parrish is the second employee to have been let go in recent months who was tied to ongoing reports of internal strife at the notoriously secretive company.

In mid-September, Ashley Gjøvik was fired for what Apple said was disclosing “confidential product-related information” and added that she had failed to comply with an investigatory process, Gizmodo recently reported. Gjøvik’s email correspondence with Apple management published by Gizmodo suggests that she was willing to comply with the investigation.

The information that Gjøvik reportedly leaked included complaints of harassment and of Apple’s employee-monitoring app Glimmer that Gjøvik posted to social media. Apple said these social media posts included the company’s intellectual property.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing. Through her lawyer, Parrish confirmed she is no longer employed at Apple but declined further comment.

(This story has been subsequently corrected to clarify the circumstances of Gjøvik’s departure from Apple).

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Former police chief charged in Capitol riot requests to defend himself in order to expose ‘corruption’ of FBI investigation into attack

Capitol riot
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces on January 6, 2021.

  • A former California police chief requested to represent himself as he faces charges related to Jan. 6.
  • A US District Judge said he would allow Alan Hostetter to defend himself but offered a warning.
  • Judge Royce Lamberth said those who represent themselves have “a fool for a client.”

A former California police chief with alleged ties to a far-right militia group requested to represent himself on Thursday against felony charges stemming from the January 6 Capitol riot.

Alan Hostetter, 56, former police chief in La Habra, California, was indicted in June. Prosecutors allege Hostetter is one of six California men charged in connection to the riot who have ties to the extremist group known as the Three Percenters.

The group takes its name from the myth that only three percent of colonists took up arms during the Revolutionary War.

In court on Thursday, Hostetter requested to defend himself, telling US District Judge Royce Lamberth that he wants to expose what he called the “corruption of this investigation,” referring to the vast FBI probe into the attack, according to Reuters.

Lamberth reportedly responded to Hostetter’s request by proclaiming that those who represent themselves in court have “a fool for a client.” But the judge said he would allow Hostetter the opportunity to represent himself after he received an affidavit from the defendant.

Prosecutors allege that Hostetter, in addition to having ties to the Three Percenters, also started his own far-right group called the American Phoenix Project, which put on anti-COVID lockdown protests and backed former President Donald Trump’s election fraud lies following the 2020 vote.

According to court documents, the group became a way to advocate for violence against government leaders.

An attorney listed for Hostetter did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Earlier this week, a Capitol riot defendant admitted to two new felonies while representing himself.

Nearly 700 people have been charged in connection with the deadly Capitol attack, and almost 100 have now pleaded guilty.

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Facebook adopts new policies to combat coordinated intimidation and harassment of public figures

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg looks at his phone.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

  • Facebook said the policy was created to prevent coordinated mass attacks against public figures.
  • New content violations like “severe sexualizing content” were added to Facebook’s harassment policy.
  • The platform consulted free speech advocates, politicians, and other stakeholders on the policy.

A week after scathing congressional testimony from whistleblower Frances Haugen, Facebook announced on Wednesday it will expand its current harassment policies to better protect public figures, such as politicians, journalists, human-rights defenders, and celebrities.

According to Facebook, the policy expansion would remove any “objectionable content” targeted at public figures, including posts, direct messages, comments, networks of accounts, and private pages or groups coordinating mass posting.

“We’re always trying to strike the right balance between protecting them from abuse and allowing open dialogue about them on our apps. Our bullying and harassment policy differentiates between public figures and private individuals to enable freedom of expression and legitimate public discourse around those in the public eye,” Facebook said in a news release Wednesday.

Feedback led the company to add several new content violations to its existing harassment policy, including:

  • Severe sexualizing content
  • Profiles, pages, groups, or events dedicated to sexualizing the public figure
  • Derogatory, sexualized photoshopped images and drawings
  • Attacks through negative physical descriptions that are tagged to, mention, or posted on the public figure’s account
  • Degrading content depicting individuals in the process of bodily functions

Facebook said in its announcement that it consulted free speech advocates, human rights experts, women’s safety groups, politicians, journalists, content creators, and other stakeholders while drafting the policy expansion. The platform’s full list of protections for public figures is outlined in its community standards.

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How to view Instagram Stories anonymously in 3 different ways

Woman looking at her phone anxiously
There a few methods you could use to view an Instagram Story anonymously.

  • You can view Instagram Stories anonymously by using an unidentifiable account or, to an extent, by turning on airplane mode.
  • Third-party sites and apps that promise anonymous Instagram Stories viewing can be unreliable and may not be secure, though some do work.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

When viewing Instagram Stories, it’s important to note that the user who posted the story is able to see who viewed it. Generally speaking, this doesn’t cause a problem, but there may be a time that you want to view someone’s Instagram Stories discretely.

There are a few different ways you can go about viewing stories without letting the poster know it was you, though each method will have varying degrees of success.

How to view Instagram Stories anonymously

Use an anonymous Instagram account

Perhaps the best way to anonymously view someone’s Instagram Stories is by using an Instagram account that isn’t automatically identifiable as you.

If you already have another account set up, it’s as easy as adding the account on Instagram and switching between the two whenever you want to view someone’s Instagram Stories without them knowing.

Instagram app open with "add account" option highlighted.
Add an additional Instagram account.

If you haven’t already created an additional Instagram account, you’ll need to sign up for a new one before adding it to your app.

Turn on airplane mode

It’s possible to view someone’s Instagram Stories anonymously by ensuring your mobile device has airplane mode enabled before you tap on them. Because Instagram automatically preloads several stories to enable instant viewing even when you’re without a reliable Wi-Fi or data connection, you can theoretically view one without being seen.

[anonymous-instagram-stories-2.png: An iPhone's settings open with airplane mode enabled.]
Turn on airplane mode on your mobile device.

To try this out, you need to pull up the account’s profile in the Instagram app, then enable airplane mode on your device before heading back into the app and tapping on the user’s stories.

However, if the user in question has posted many stories sequentially, the app likely won’t have preloaded them all so they won’t all be viewable on airplane mode.

Use a third-party app or site

There are a number of third-party apps and websites that purport to allow you to view someone’s Instagram Stories anonymously, without the need to log in. Many of these sites aren’t particularly secure and some don’t even work, however, so them use at your own discretion.

If you are looking to use one, though, in a test we conducted, the website InstaStories successfully viewed a public account’s stories without notifying the user of a view. Simply enter an account handle on the site’s homepage to view an account’s stories. Note that the site only works for public accounts, and won’t be able to access a private account’s stories.

How to change the Instagram icon on an iPhone or Android and customize the app’s appearance on your home screen8 ways to troubleshoot Instagram if it’s not working properlyHow to log into Instagram from a mobile device or computer, or troubleshoot if you can’t log inHow to change your Instagram password or reset it if you’ve forgotten it

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