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News18 Afternoon Digest: Kerala May Pass Resolution Against Farm Bills, Nations Sound Alarm Against UK Covid Strain and Other Top Stories

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national president Naresh Tikait along with other 'Khap' leaders during farmers' protest against the Center's new farm law at Ghazipur border, in Ghaziabad on December 17, 2020. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) national president Naresh Tikait along with other 'Khap' leaders during farmers' protest against the Center's new farm law at Ghazipur border, in Ghaziabad on December 17, 2020. (PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)

Here are the Stories We are Covering this Afternoon: Kerala May Pass Resolution Against Farm Bills; A Look at the Mutated, 'Out of Control' Covid Strain; The Power Play Behind Sonia Gandhi's Letter to Uddhav on SC/ST Quota; News18's Survey on Farm Laws; Italy Has Patient With New Virus Strain; and Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction Pics Go Viral.

Kerala May Pass Resolution Against Farm Bills; Khattar Says Will Quit Politics if MSP Abolished

The government on Sunday wrote to the protesting farmer unions inviting them for the next round of talks and asked them to choose a convenient date. In a letter to the union leaders, agriculture ministry joint secretary Vivek Aggarwal said, "I request those previously invited protesting union leaders to provide details of their remaining concerns and doubts and suggest a date as per convenience for next round of talks." Previous five rounds of formal talks between the government and 40 farmer unions have failed to break the deadlock with the farmers insisting on repeal of the Centre's three laws and camping at various border points of Delhi for over three weeks now. LIVE UPDATES

A Look at the Mutated, 'Out of Control' Covid Strain that Stole UK’s Christmas

As the first mass coronavirus inoculation campaign began in the United Kingdom, PM Johnson announced fresh curbs to arrest the spread of an unseen strain of the novel coronavirus- hitherto. It appears to be more contagious than earlier variants of the pathogen. "It is with a very heavy heart I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned," Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at a press conference, just days after he said it would be “frankly inhuman” to cancel the holidays. "I sincerely believe there is no alternative open to me,” he added. READ MORE

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Reassure Congress, Remind Sena-NCP: The Power Play Behind Sonia Gandhi's Letter to Uddhav on SC/ST Quota

There is a fable about a venomous serpent which often bit people and sucked their lives out through its poison. Counselled by a sage, the repentant snake decided to renounce its violent ways. Days later, when the revered master was passing by the same route, he saw the reptile lying in a piteous state by the roadside. The grievously injured snake complained that since it had stopped biting people, they overcame their fear and pelted it with stones. Alas, said the sage, along with biting, you also gave up hissing. The letter by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray indicates that the party seems to have taken a leaf out of that snake’s book by deciding to hiss and underline its nuisance value. READ MORE

Majority of Indians Support New Farm Laws, Want Protests to be Called Off, News18 Network Survey Finds

Amid protests around the national capital against the new agricultural reforms introduced by the Modi government, a survey conducted by the News18 Network has found a majority of Indians support the implementation of the new laws and think the agitation by farmers should be called off. READ MORE

Italy Has Patient With New Covid Strain Found in Britain; European Neighbours Shut Doors to Britain Amid Alarm

US authorities are looking "very carefully" into the virus variant spreading in the United Kingdom, top health officials said Sunday, while indicating that a ban on UK travel was not currently in the cards. The news came as a US expert panel recommended those aged 75 and older should be the next vaccinated against the virus, along with 30 million "frontline essential workers," including teachers, grocery store employees and police. Addressing the virus variant, Moncef Slaoui, chief advisor to the government's Operation Warp Speed vaccine program, told CNN's "State of the Union" that US officials "don't know yet" if it is present in the country. LIVE UPDATES

Fascinating Pics of Jupiter-Saturn Conjunction Go Viral As Rare Celestial Phenomenon Enthralls Internet

Tt's not every day that two gaseous giants flirt with each other in the night sky so when Jupiter and Saturn recently turned into "companions", space lovers were armed with their cameras and telescopes to capture the special moment. The two biggest planets in our solar system Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer to one another in 367 (1623) years on Monday since the Galileo's time in the 17th century. READ MORE

first published:December 21, 2020, 10:56 IST