Shift in Economic Sentiment: Voters’ Views on Inflation Impact Biden’s Prospects Ahead of November Election

Nancy Pontius is prepared to voice an unpopular opinion: she doesn’t perceive inflation as a significant concern and asserts that economic worries won’t sway her voting decision in the upcoming November election.

Despite experiencing financial strain akin to tens of millions of Americans in recent years, the 36-year-old Democrat from Pennsylvania remains resolute. “I definitely felt the gas price increase,” she acknowledges, “but I also recognized that it was likely to be temporary.” Having cast her ballot for Joe Biden four years ago, she intends to do so again, driven by issues like abortion. “I’m not concerned about the broader economic landscape,” she affirms.

This sentiment comes as a relief for President Biden, whose first term grappled with an unprecedented 18% surge in prices, sparking economic discontent and diminishing political backing. While America’s robust post-pandemic economic resurgence drew admiration globally, domestic sentiments remained starkly pessimistic.

However, there are indications of a shift as gasoline prices regress towards $3 per gallon nationally and wages edge closer to keeping pace with inflation. Economic sentiment, often described as the “vibe” people perceive about the economy, has seen improvement in business surveys recently.

According to the University of Michigan, Democrats like Nancy now express optimism about the economy akin to 2021 levels, surpassing any point during the Trump administration. Even Republican sentiments have slightly brightened, as per their research.

The White House is hopeful that this change in mood will endure, bolstering support for the president as the November election looms, especially in pivotal swing states like Pennsylvania. Yet, such optimism is far from guaranteed.

The president’s approval ratings linger near the lowest of his term, weighed down by concerns over immigration, his age, and conflicts like the one in Gaza. Despite positive indicators, overall economic sentiment is yet to rebound from the pandemic’s blow, notwithstanding robust growth and record low unemployment.

Within the Democratic camp, dissatisfaction with Biden’s economic policies, particularly among those under 30, presents a challenge. Kim Schwartz, a 28-year-old health technician from Pennsylvania, who voted for Biden in 2020, feels let down by the administration’s economic agenda.

“I don’t see any progress in getting more money into the hands of middle class and working class Americans to keep up with [inflation],” she laments. Kim’s financial situation has improved since 2020, yet she still diligently hunts for bargains at multiple grocery stores each week.

Her concerns resonate with others like John Cooke, a 34-year-old restaurant manager in Pennsylvania. While his eatery’s business remains strong, inflation has eaten into profits, and he hasn’t received a pay increase despite rising expenses.

Republicans, traditionally favored on economic matters, have seized on inflation to criticize Biden, attributing it to his spending policies. Economists attribute inflation to a combination of factors, including pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and the Ukraine conflict’s impact on oil prices.

Democrats have maintained their electoral ground by attributing inflation to broader forces and focusing on other issues like social justice and climate change. However, swing voters, often prioritizing economic concerns, hold significant sway in presidential elections.

Strategists acknowledge Biden’s previous reliance on national economic metrics as a defense strategy as emotionally disconnected. Consequently, Biden has adopted a more populist rhetoric, criticizing price gouging and advocating against “shrinkflation” while denouncing “extreme MAGA Republican” economic policies.

Don Cunningham, a veteran Democratic figure in Pennsylvania, anticipates a reconciliation between economic sentiment and reality in the coming months. As head of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, he notes challenges for Biden unrelated to economic issues, such as generational divides and personal connections with voters.

Yet, signs indicate many Americans are disheartened by the probable 2020 rematch between Biden and Trump. Even Nancy, who ardently displayed her support for Biden in 2020, plans a more subdued approach this time, wary of discord with her neighbors.

“We might still put the Biden-Harris sign out,” she muses, “But I was willing to be a little louder in 2020… than I am now.”

Debate Ignites Over Biden’s Fitness for Office Amid Handling of Classified Documents and Age Concerns

Last Thursday, President Joe Biden faced a challenging day, starting with the release of a report by special counsel Robert Hur regarding Biden’s handling of classified documents after leaving the vice presidency. While the report did not recommend criminal charges, it highlighted Biden’s retention of classified materials in his garage and unlocked drawers. Additionally, the report emphasized concerns about Biden’s advanced age, noting instances where he appeared forgetful in interviews.

Biden responded to the report at a press conference, vehemently denying any memory issues and defending his fitness for office. However, he also made errors during the press conference, including misidentifying Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the president of Mexico. These events sparked debate about Biden’s suitability for a second term as president and raised questions about his handling of classified documents.

Political analysts weighed in on the potential impact of the report on Biden’s political future. Some suggested that while Biden’s mishandling of documents could be damaging, it might not outweigh other concerns voters have. Others argued that Biden’s age and memory lapses could be significant factors in the 2024 campaign, especially considering existing public perceptions of his capabilities.

Discussions also revolved around comparisons between Biden’s case and former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. While Trump faced similar accusations, his approach to the issue differed, leading to speculation about how each case might influence public opinion.

The report’s characterization of Biden as an elderly man with memory issues resonated with existing concerns about his age and fitness for office. Surveys indicated that a majority of Americans had significant doubts about Biden’s ability to serve a second term as president, with many citing concerns about his age and competence.

Analysts debated the potential consequences of Biden dropping out of the presidential race, with some suggesting Vice President Kamala Harris as a potential replacement. However, others expressed skepticism about the party’s ability to navigate such a significant change, given existing divisions and concerns within the Democratic Party.

Biden’s handling of classified documents and concerns about his age and memory have ignited debates about his fitness for office and his prospects in the 2024 presidential race. While the report’s findings have raised questions about Biden’s leadership, the ultimate impact on his political future remains uncertain, with analysts offering differing perspectives on the potential outcomes.

Democrats Strategize Amidst Political Turmoil: Biden’s Allies React to Special Counsel’s Report Fallout

Democrats have enjoyed significant victories in various election contests by positioning themselves as champions of reproductive rights, while on another front, Tasini proposed the idea of framing the GOP as obstructive, particularly in light of the collapsed deal linking border security with aid to Ukraine and Israel, amidst strong opposition from Trump.

Carville suggested that Biden should highlight his accomplishments in areas such as lowering drug prices and implementing certain measures for student loan relief. Additionally, he recommended promising investigations into price gouging that occurred in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, Biden’s supporters appear focused on damage control following the release of the special counsel’s report.

At an event on Friday, Harris argued against the characterization of the president’s demeanor in the report, asserting that it was factually incorrect and clearly driven by political motives.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed the report’s commentary on Biden’s age during a media briefing on Friday, stating that it was detached from reality.

However, regardless of the factual accuracy of Biden’s cognitive abilities, the issue remains persistent.

Independent analysts believe that the president’s recent press conference was a misstep that could have long-lasting repercussions.

Boston University Professor Emeritus Tobe Berkovitz, an expert in political communications, described the press conference as a significant mistake. He suggested that the combination of the press conference and the preceding special counsel report could severely impact the small group of undecided voters.

“If you were on the fence, that pushed you off the fence,” Berkovitz predicted.

U.S. Troop Deaths in Jordan Drone Strike Escalate Tensions with Iran, Prompting Delicate Response from Biden Administration

The recent drone strike in Jordan, resulting in the deaths of three U.S. soldiers and allegedly carried out by Iranian-backed militant factions, has intensified tensions in the already volatile Middle East region. This incident has placed additional pressure on President Biden to address the situation and send a clear message to leaders in Tehran.

The White House now faces the delicate task of formulating a response to Iran that deters future attacks while avoiding a broader conflict, a stance the Biden administration has been steadfast about since the outset of the Israel-Hamas conflict. This attack represents the first instance of U.S. military personnel fatalities in the Middle East since the onset of the Gaza conflict in October, further complicating matters for the White House.

In response to the attack, National Security Spokesperson John Kirby stated, “We do not seek another war. We do not seek to escalate. But we will absolutely do what is required to protect ourselves… and to respond appropriately to these attacks.” President Biden has committed to addressing these recent attacks at a time and in a manner of the administration’s choosing.

Following the incident, President Biden convened with his national security team, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who returned to his duties at the Pentagon following surgery for prostate cancer. While Kirby emphasized that the U.S. does not seek war with Iran, he refrained from confirming whether a strike within Iran was under consideration, stating, “I will not get ahead of the president’s decision-making.”

Since late October, American troops have faced more than 160 attacks from Iranian-backed groups. The White House has responded with precision strikes on militia targets and retaliatory actions against the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen following attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. However, the deaths of U.S. troops elevate the stakes for Biden, especially among Republican defense hawks in Congress who are advocating for retaliatory measures, potentially including strikes within Iran.

Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, suggested that if the U.S. aims to hold Iran accountable, it may target sites or facilities in Iraq or Syria utilized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s military wing. However, he believes the U.S. is unlikely to target Iranian territory directly, presenting a complex challenge for the Biden administration.

The deaths of U.S. soldiers have sparked outrage in Washington, with some GOP figures criticizing the administration’s response to Iran. Former President Trump accused Biden of “weakness” and warned of the risk of escalating to “World War 3.” Republican lawmakers echoed these sentiments, urging decisive action against Iran.

Iran has denied involvement in the Jordan attack, asserting it does not issue direct orders to militia groups. However, the U.S. holds Iran broadly responsible for attacks carried out by its proxies. Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh indicated that the attack bore the hallmarks of an Iranian-backed group in Iraq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, though a definitive attribution has not been made.

Any U.S. retaliation against Iran is likely to provoke further responses from Iranian-backed groups, perpetuating a cycle of violence until the Gaza conflict subsides. These groups claim to be acting in solidarity with Palestinians against American forces.

Barbara Slavin, a Middle East expert at the Stimson Center, described the Jordan attacks as a “dangerous escalation” and anticipated a robust U.S. response. However, she noted that previous U.S. actions have not deterred further attacks, suggesting that a cease-fire in Gaza may be the only effective means of reducing such incidents.

Despite concerns about the effectiveness of deterrence, the Pentagon remains committed to its current strategy against Iranian-backed militants, with Singh affirming that the U.S. will respond at an appropriate time and location.

With expectations of Iranian retaliation to any U.S. strikes, the risk to American troops could escalate, particularly considering past incidents where troops narrowly avoided fatalities. Slavin emphasized that the frequency of attacks by Iranian-backed groups made such casualties inevitable in the long run.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/4436080-biden-iran-us-troops-killed-jordan/

Trump and Biden Face Uphill Battles Beyond Primary Victories

Donald J. Trump has been cruising through the primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, dominating his Republican rivals and basking in the adoration of his supporters who are convinced of his inevitable victory in the presidential race. However, as Trump edges closer to securing the Republican nomination, he faces daunting challenges beyond the party faithful.

Outside the insular world of Republican primaries, Trump’s campaign is grappling with persistent weaknesses that could pose significant risks for his party. These vulnerabilities came to the fore in New Hampshire, where a significant portion of independents, college-educated voters, and Republicans hesitant to overlook his legal troubles threw their support behind his rival, Nikki Haley.

While Trump emerged victorious in New Hampshire, the sizable turnout against him signaled trouble ahead as the presidential race transitions from the realm of die-hard Trump supporters to a broader electorate, many of whom rejected him in the past. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida acknowledged the issue, stating that Trump must find a way to address the concerns of lifelong conservatives who are reluctant to support him again.

On the other side, President Biden also faces challenges in a potential rematch of the 2020 contest. Despite his victory then, Biden, now 81, grapples with widespread disapproval and skepticism regarding his age and leadership. He seeks to rally his base, independents, and even moderate Republicans around issues such as abortion rights and democracy, although his stance on immigration, inflation, and the conflict in Gaza has alienated some within his party.

Republican pollster Neil Newhouse highlighted the upcoming election as a choice between two unpopular leaders, characterizing it as a “lesser-of-two-evils” scenario.

Trump’s difficulties extend back to his 2016 takeover of the Republican Party, which alienated suburban moderates and independents. His struggles with independent voters were evident in the Iowa caucuses as well, where a majority supported his opponents.

While Trump is expected to regain many of these voters in the general election, a significant portion of Haley supporters in New Hampshire expressed willingness to vote for Biden, indicating a potential fracture within the Republican base.

However, caution is advised in interpreting the New Hampshire results, given the state’s left-leaning tendencies. Nonetheless, the GOP must ensure the election does not become solely a referendum on Trump.

Ruth Axtell, a New Hampshire independent who voted for Haley, expressed her desire to see Trump defeated, even if it meant a victory for a female candidate. Yet, she remains undecided for the general election, reflecting the uncertainty among voters.

New Hampshire’s results underscored Trump’s struggles with college-educated and affluent voters, demographics that once formed the core of his support base.

Even in Iowa, Trump faced challenges in affluent suburbs, indicating potential vulnerabilities in traditionally Republican strongholds.

Despite concerns about winning back Republicans who have turned away from him, Trump remains confident in his ability to secure their support. However, his victory speech in New Hampshire, marked by attacks on Haley rather than calls for party unity, raises questions about his approach.

Both Trump’s aides and super PAC officials view Biden as a formidable opponent, with the latter expressing concerns about Biden’s substantial spending on advertising.

While DeSantis and Haley refrained from directly confronting Trump, Biden’s campaign is expected to vigorously challenge him, countering his attacks with clips of his verbal missteps.

As Trump faces intensifying scrutiny over his role in the Capitol riot and legal troubles, his fixation on the 2020 election and divisive rhetoric could further erode his support among independents and swing voters.

Even in conservative Iowa, a significant portion of Trump’s supporters expressed reservations about voting for him if he were convicted of a crime, underscoring the potential repercussions of his legal battles on his electoral prospects.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy Exits 2024 Presidential Race, Throws Support Behind Trump After Disappointing Iowa Results

Business magnate Vivek Ramaswamy withdrew from the 2024 presidential race on Monday evening, following a lackluster performance in the Iowa caucuses. Ramaswamy, who secured the fourth position in Iowa, offered his endorsement to former President Donald Trump. According to NBC News projections, Ramaswamy trailed behind Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, holding only 8% of the GOP caucus vote with over 90% of precincts reporting late on Monday.

In a gracious move, Ramaswamy personally congratulated Trump on his triumph and announced his intention to join the former president at a rally in New Hampshire on the following day. Expressing his support for Trump, Ramaswamy emphasized the need for an “America First” candidate in the presidential race, affirming, “Going forward, he will have my full endorsement for the presidency.”

The 38-year-old entrepreneur, relatively unknown when he entered the political arena in February 2023, rapidly gained traction among Republican voters. His campaign strategy closely aligned with Trump’s in both tone and policy substance, presenting himself as a successor to the MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement.

Despite his efforts to differentiate himself, Ramaswamy struggled to siphon support away from Trump, who maintained a strong grip on Republican voters. The anticipated wave of first-time caucusgoers that Ramaswamy had hoped would boost his campaign in Iowa failed to materialize.

As the Iowa caucuses approached, Ramaswamy’s rhetoric took a more conspiratorial turn, urging supporters to “wake up” and alluding to plots and forces influencing the election. His pitch to Trump enthusiasts became convoluted, discouraging them from voting for Trump due to alleged external interference preventing him from reaching the White House. Ramaswamy cited criminal cases against Trump and legal battles challenging his candidacy on 14th Amendment grounds in Colorado and Maine as reasons to reconsider their support.

Three days prior to the Iowa caucuses, Trump directly addressed Ramaswamy’s characterization of him as “wounded.” On Truth Social, Trump criticized Ramaswamy, stating, “Vivek started his campaign as a great supporter, ‘the best President in generations,’ etc. Unfortunately now all he does is disguise his support in the form of deceitful campaign tricks.”

Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign centered on the promise to extend Trump’s policies if elected. He advocated for the shutdown of several government agencies, including the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Department of Education.

Additionally, he proposed a substantial reduction in the number of federal workers and pledged to deploy the U.S. military to secure both the southern and northern borders.

Another controversial proposal by Ramaswamy involved ending birthright citizenship for American-born children of undocumented immigrants. He argued that the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to those born or naturalized in the United States, was not intended to apply to this demographic.

Throughout the Republican presidential debates, Ramaswamy positioned himself as an adversary to other candidates, particularly former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Nikki Haley. He engaged in repeated clashes with Haley, even going so far as to label her a “puppet” for the “deep state” in the latter stages of his campaign.

While maintaining some rivalry with other candidates, Ramaswamy closely aligned himself with Trump, prompting suggestions from supporters to vie for the vice presidential slot on Trump’s ticket. However, Ramaswamy consistently asserted that he was not a “Plan B” person.

Funding his campaign with millions of dollars from his personal wealth, Ramaswamy held the highest number of public events among his GOP rivals. His extensive campaign efforts included over 300 events in Iowa, covering all 99 counties in the state twice. In a last-ditch effort to bolster his primary chances, Ramaswamy relocated his campaign staff to the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire in November.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/vivek-ramaswamy-dropping-2024-presidential-race-rcna133875

Trump Challenges Colorado Court’s Historic Ruling, Appeals to Supreme Court in Unprecedented Primary Ballot Battle

In a move that could trigger an unprecedented legal showdown, former President Trump has called on the Supreme Court to overturn a pivotal decision by a Colorado court that disqualified him from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban.

Trump’s legal team argues that the Colorado Supreme Court overstepped its authority by denying him access to the ballot and contends that the court misinterpreted and misapplied Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. In their petition to the Supreme Court, they assert, “The Colorado Supreme Court has no authority to deny President Trump access to the ballot. By doing so, the Colorado Supreme Court has usurped Congressional authority and misinterpreted and misapplied the text of section 3.”

The crux of the matter lies in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a clause implemented in the aftermath of the Civil War. This provision prohibits individuals who have sworn an oath to “support” the U.S. Constitution but have “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding federal office. The Supreme Court has never before ruled on this specific section, setting the stage for an extraordinary legal battle.

The Colorado Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision in December, determined that Trump’s actions, including inflaming his supporters with unfounded claims of election fraud and directing them to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, amounted to insurrection. Consequently, the court barred him from appearing on the state’s primary ballot as he pursues a second term in the White House.

The state court’s ruling also overturned a trial judge’s finding that the 14th Amendment didn’t apply to the presidency, emphasizing that the language of the presidential oath “does not make it anything other than an oath to support the Constitution.” The majority opinion stated, “We do not reach these conclusions lightly. We are mindful of the magnitude and weight of the questions now before us.”

Trump’s legal team, in their petition to the Supreme Court, emphasized the historical significance of the case: “If allowed to stand, the ruling will mark the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.”

Despite the Colorado court putting its ruling on hold until a specified date to allow Trump to seek Supreme Court review, the looming deadline for finalizing Colorado’s presidential primary ballots poses a challenge. With the deadline approaching and the legal process likely extending beyond it, Trump’s name is expected to appear on the primary ballots regardless.

While the immediate impact may be limited to Colorado’s primary, any decision by the Supreme Court could reverberate through the upcoming general election in November, affecting Trump’s candidacy not only in Colorado but potentially in states nationwide.

In response to the legal developments, Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung accused adversaries, including the Colorado Supreme Court and the left-wing activist group CREW, of attempting to disenfranchise voters. Cheung stated, “Crooked Joe Biden’s comrades, including the Colorado Supreme Court and CREW, a radical, left-wing activist group, are doing all they can to disenfranchise all American voters by attempting to remove President Trump, the leading candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election, from the primary ballot.”

Adding another layer to the legal saga, the Colorado Republican Party separately appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, asserting that allowing the state court’s decision to stand would distort the 2024 race and result in “nebulous accusations of insurrection.” While the plaintiffs and the Colorado secretary of state agree that the high court should consider the case, they propose focusing on a narrower set of issues.

Similar legal battles have unfolded in other states, including Michigan and Minnesota, where attempts to remove Trump’s name from state ballots have mostly been unsuccessful. However, the landscape shifted at the turn of the year when Maine became the second state to disqualify Trump from its Republican primary ballots. Trump promptly appealed the decision to state court, setting the stage for a potential Supreme Court involvement in the weeks ahead.

In Maine, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, cited the weight of evidence in her decision, asserting that Trump was aware of the consequences of his prolonged effort to undermine the democratic election and chose to ignite the turmoil: “The weight of the evidence makes clear that Mr. Trump was aware of the tinder laid by his multi-month effort to delegitimize a democratic election, and then chose to light a match.”

As the legal battles unfold across multiple states, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Colorado case could shape the trajectory of Trump’s political future, influencing both his immediate presence on primary ballots and his viability as a major-party candidate in the 2024 Presidential Election.

Critical Decisions Await as COP28 Gathers Momentum in Dubai

Tens of thousands are converging on Dubai this December for COP28, the annual United Nations-led international climate summit. With the urgency to avert irreversible damage from fossil fuel pollution, global leaders, negotiators, climate advocates, and industry representatives are focusing on adapting to increasingly lethal heatwaves, more powerful storms, and catastrophic sea-level rise.

In a bid to understand the nuances of the world’s most crucial climate change conference, it’s imperative to delve into the roots of COP. Over 30 years ago, a UN treaty was signed by over 150 nations to curb the alarming rise of planet-warming pollution. The inaugural Conference of the Parties (COP) convened in Berlin in 1995. In 2015, COP21 saw over 190 countries endorsing the Paris Agreement, aiming to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably to 1.5 degrees. Despite its landmark status, the agreement lacked specificity on implementation strategies.

As COP28 unfolds, controversy surrounds its host, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a major oil-producing nation. Critics argue that appointing Sultan Al Jaber, head of the UAE’s national oil company, as COP president, creates a conflict of interest. Responding to concerns, the UAE initiated a campaign to enhance its green credentials ahead of the summit. The controversy led over 100 US Congress and European Parliament members to call for Al Jaber’s resignation, citing potential undermining of negotiations. However, some, including US climate envoy John Kerry, praised Al Jaber’s appointment, emphasizing the UAE’s commitment to emissions reduction targets.

The roster of attendees at COP28 is illustrious, with over 160 nations, including major players like the UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Notably, King Charles III will address the opening ceremony, and while Pope Francis had planned to attend, his cancellation due to health reasons has been a setback. Notably absent from the speaker list are US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping, leaders of the world’s top polluting countries. In their stead, US Vice President Kamala Harris will attend, marking a response to criticism over Biden’s absence.

A notable presence at COP28 is expected from major oil-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, and Iran. Despite concerns that the Israel-Hamas conflict could overshadow climate action, representatives from both Israel and the Palestinian territories are slated to speak. Additionally, the UAE has extended invitations to fossil fuel executives, anticipating new commitments to decarbonize. Wall Street heavyweights, led by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, are also expected, bringing financial perspectives to the climate talks.

Eight years post-Paris Agreement, the global stocktake at COP28 reveals minimal progress in slashing climate pollution. The first scorecard, published in September, highlights the urgent need for action. Melanie Robinson, the global climate program director for the World Resources Institute, acknowledges the wake-up call provided by the stocktake, urging a roadmap for effective climate goal achievement.

Central to COP28 are carryovers from COP27, namely finalizing a “loss and damage” fund and navigating the transition away from planet-warming fossil fuels. A crucial debate centers on whether to “phase out” or “phase down” fossil fuels. At COP27, nations like China and Saudi Arabia obstructed a proposal to phase out all fossil fuels, emphasizing the importance of unequivocal language covering all fossil fuels.

The loss and damage fund, a pivotal issue from the previous agreement, aims to channel funds from wealthy countries responsible for the majority of climate crisis impacts to poorer nations. The goal is to operationalize the fund by 2024, with a special committee recommending the World Bank as its temporary trustee. Nate Warszawski, a research associate with WRI’s International Climate Action team, underscores the delicate nature of the loss and damage fund, identifying it as a key determinant of COP28’s success or failure.

As COP28 unfolds, the world watches with anticipation, hoping for resolutions that propel global efforts toward mitigating climate change. The dynamics of this conference underscore the urgency and complexity of addressing the climate crisis on a global scale.

2024 Election: Dissatisfied Voters in Battleground States Consider Alternative Candidates

The prospect of a 2024 election rematch between President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump has left voters in six battleground states dissatisfied and searching for alternatives, as revealed by recent polls conducted by The New York Times and Siena College.

In these key states, both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are viewed unfavorably by the majority of voters. A significant portion of voters dislike both candidates, and overall enthusiasm for the upcoming election has waned compared to the 2020 contest.

This frustration and disillusionment have led voters to consider other options. When asked about the likely 2024 matchup between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump, only 2 percent of respondents expressed support for another candidate. However, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s name was presented as an alternative, nearly a quarter of respondents indicated they would choose him.

It’s important to note that the support for Mr. Kennedy may be somewhat inflated, as two-thirds of those expressing support for him had previously mentioned a preference for one of the two major-party candidates.

The polling encompassed registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and the results suggest that Mr. Kennedy is less a firmly established political figure in the minds of voters and more a symbol of their discontent with the choice between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump.

Voters who hold unfavorable views of both major-party candidates, often referred to as “double haters,” played a significant role in the outcomes of recent presidential elections. The number of such voters has more than doubled since four years ago. Mr. Trump now enjoys more support from these voters in five of the six battleground states, with Arizona being the exception. Overall, 42 percent of “double haters” planned to vote for Mr. Trump, while 34 percent favored Mr. Biden, and 24 percent remained undecided.

The disapproval of both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump is likely to fuel interest in outsider candidates like Mr. Kennedy, who recently transitioned from the Democratic primary to run as an independent. Cornel West, the liberal professor who switched from the Green Party to mount an independent campaign, is another candidate in the spotlight.

The accessibility of the ballot will present a significant challenge for independent candidates. Qualifying for the general election as a political independent is a costly endeavor, and legal obstacles from major parties may further complicate the process.

The appeal of outsider candidates stems from the widespread unpopularity of both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump among voters in the battleground states. A majority of respondents held unfavorable views of both candidates, except for Black voters who had a favorable view of Mr. Biden.

Voters who dislike both major-party candidates but are open to alternative options are central to the potential impact of outsider candidates like Mr. Kennedy. The outcome in tightly contested states could be influenced by the presence of a candidate like Mr. Kennedy. In some states, he appears to benefit Mr. Trump, while in others, he aids Mr. Biden.

In a political landscape marked by polarization and increasing partisanship, third-party and independent candidates often reflect voter dissatisfaction with the choices offered by the major parties rather than genuine interest in outsider candidates. The impact of Mr. Kennedy as an independent candidate remains uncertain, as his support has fluctuated during his campaign. His potential to influence the 2024 election outcome may become clearer as the election season progresses.

Trump’s 2024 Blueprint: Agenda47 Unveils Vision for a Potential Return to Power

Donald Trump, during his current presidential campaign, has spent a significant amount of time revisiting his 2020 election loss. However, behind the scenes, he and his team are actively crafting a plan for a potential return to power, with the intention of avoiding the pitfalls of his 2016 campaign.

For those wondering about Trump’s intentions if he were to be reelected in 2024, he’s leaving no room for ambiguity. This comprehensive plan is available in digestible portions on his campaign website, resonates through his rally speeches, and is documented by individuals entrusted with preparations for his second term, known as “Agenda47” in reference to his potential status as the 47th president of the United States.

In contrast to his 2016 bid, where he relied on a modest budget and a diverse team of political novices, Trump’s current preparations reflect a more organized and strategic approach. They are determined to avoid past mistakes and have formulated a playbook to navigate the complexities of governing, including potential resistance from a liberal bureaucracy.

Picture: CNN

This playbook has emerged throughout the year and covers a wide range of policy proposals. Some are visionary, such as investing in flying cars and creating “freedom cities” on federal land, while others are controversial, like relocating the homeless to tent camps outside cities. Trump delves into culture wars, advocating for patriotic values in state schools, and he emphasizes protectionist policies, calling for universal baseline tariffs on imports.

On immigration, he seeks to reinstate the policy of keeping undocumented migrants in Mexico during asylum applications and ending automatic citizenship for children of undocumented migrants born in the U.S. He pledges to cut international aid and potentially reduce U.S. involvement with NATO.

Energy is a top priority for Trump in 2024, with the goal of increasing supply to lower household bills, which he believes are contributing to inflation.

These policies are emblematic of Trump’s efforts to reshape the Republican Party, moving it away from the conservatism of previous Republican nominees and towards a blend of conservatism and populism.

To implement this agenda, Trump has established a network of organizations staffed by former senior Trump officials. These groups, with names like the Center for Renewing America and the America First Policy Institute, are generating position papers and documents to serve as a blueprint for policy implementation. They have recruited and trained conservatives who could be part of a future Republican presidential administration.

While Trump’s critics are concerned about the potential impact of such an administration, his supporters believe a more cohesive team could lead to a more effective presidency. The hope is that Trump will articulate a detailed agenda upon taking office, which would enable him to address critical issues, including energy, border security, and inflation.

However, a detailed agenda could also be used by Democrats as a basis for criticism. They may attempt to portray Trump and his advisers as out of touch with the majority of Americans, potentially criminalizing what many consider to be reasonable freedoms.

The ever-changing nature of Trump’s policies and the possibility of him discarding these proposals cannot be dismissed entirely. Nonetheless, those who know Trump well, including his former administration officials, are confident in their ability to influence his decisions.

In response to Democratic efforts to attack Trump’s agenda, his supporters are dismissive, believing that Trump’s unorthodox approach can ultimately engage the electorate, even when his proposals are controversial. They argue that Trump excels at breaking the mold of conventional political expectations.

A Fresh Face at the Helm: New House Speaker’s Vision for America

Mike Johnson, the freshly minted House speaker, is undergoing a swift transformation from relative anonymity to the highest-ranking elected Republican in the nation. In a candid conversation with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Johnson offered insights into his perspective, deeply rooted in the Bible, addressing concerns regarding his past opposition to LGBTQ rights, keeping his stance against abortion rights vague, and expressing his intention to tighten House rules to protect his position.

Despite these issues, Johnson’s immediate priority is negotiation with the White House on funding bills, with a clear message that Republican support comes with conditions.

Financial Wrangling: A Potential Shutdown and Ukraine Aid

Johnson emphasized his stance on budget cuts when it comes to funding the government, making it clear that he will insist on reductions when government funding lapses in less than three weeks. Given the current state of short-term funding bills, Johnson did not rule out the possibility of another stopgap measure when funding expires on November 17. Although he did not endorse a specific plan, Johnson and Hannity discussed a Republican proposal for an 8% cut in government spending, a measure unlikely to gain White House or Senate approval.

Johnson’s commitment to Ukraine’s support was evident, as he advocated for more funding to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression. However, he outlined 12 specific demands that Republicans would like to see met to ensure the effective use of these funds. The extent of aid that Republicans are willing to provide remains uncertain, considering the White House’s request for over $60 billion.

Furthermore, Johnson stressed that Republicans will not simply pass a bill providing additional funding to Ukraine and Israel without a catch. They will insist on separating these two issues and will demand budget cuts elsewhere in exchange for the $14.3 billion earmarked for Israel.

Congressional Oversight of Military Action: A Potential Shift

In a possible shift from the past, Johnson suggested that Republicans might attempt to restrict President Joe Biden’s authority to deploy U.S. military forces in the Middle East. Historically, every president since George W. Bush has relied on executive power to deploy troops for counterterrorism efforts. Johnson indicated that if U.S. troops were needed to rescue American hostages in Israel, Congress should have a say in the decision, emphasizing the limited authority of the executive branch without congressional consent.

Blaming the Human Heart, Not Guns

Regarding mass shootings and gun control, Johnson dismissed the idea that guns are responsible for these tragic events, arguing that the root cause lies in the human heart. He compared regulating guns to regulating vehicles, as both could potentially be used for harm. While he mentioned that he would consider legislation related to mental health, he didn’t go into specifics.

Respect for Biden Amid Criticism of His Leadership

Despite criticism of President Biden’s leadership, Johnson expressed respect for Biden’s position as the head of the nation. He acknowledged that while he might disagree with some of Biden’s policies, the presidency deserves respect. However, he agreed with Hannity that Biden’s mental acuity has declined in recent years, a point frequently raised by Republicans to question Biden’s leadership.

Core Principles of Conservatism: Guiding Johnson’s Approach

Johnson laid out a set of core principles he follows in both his speech to fellow lawmakers and his interview with Hannity. These principles, which he defines as “core principles of American conservatism,” include individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets, and human dignity. Johnson intends to use these principles to counter the push towards what he sees as European-style socialism and to convince Democrats of his perspective.

A Worldview Rooted in the Bible

During his conversation with Hannity, Johnson addressed past writings and positions on LGBTQ rights that seem out of step with current societal norms. He clarified that many of his previous positions were based on religious freedom and emphasized his commitment to following the rule of law and treating all individuals with respect. He defended his beliefs and mentioned that his worldview is deeply rooted in the Bible.

Culture War Issues Take a Back Seat

While Johnson has not ruled out pushing for legislation related to gender or abortion rights, he asserted that there are more pressing issues to address, such as Israel, Ukraine, China, Iran, the economy, the border, and the fentanyl epidemic. Johnson considers these matters to be of higher priority, dismissing others as politically motivated attacks.

A Call for Opportunity and Collaboration

Johnson urged Democrats to give him a chance and expressed the hope that they would work together to address the nation’s challenges. Democrats will need to cooperate with him to pass legislation, making collaboration essential.

In his swift rise to prominence, Mike Johnson brings a unique blend of conservative values, religious conviction, and a focus on key national issues. His vision for America and his leadership style will undoubtedly be put to the test as he navigates the complex and often contentious world of politics in the United States.

Under Pressure From Trump, FDA Announces Emergency Authorization For Convalescent Plasma To Treat Covid-19

The US Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, saying the “known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.”

The FDA said more than 70,000 patients had been treated with convalescent plasma,which is made using the blood of people who have recovered from coronavirus infections.

“Today I am pleased to make a truly historic announcement in our battle against the China virus that will save countless lives,” President Trump said at a White House briefing, referring to the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. “Today’s action will dramatically increase access to this treatment.”

Last week, Trump accused some health officials of playing politics regarding an EUA for convalescent plasma. When asked about the FDA not having granted an EUA, Trump said the reason was political.

On Sunday, a source who is close to the White House Coronavirus Task Force told CNN the FDA had reviewed additional data to inform its EUA decision. This official has not personally reviewed the data. They added the FDA is under no obligation to consult anyone outside the agency about its decision.

Convalescent plasma is taken from the blood of people who have recovered from Covid-19. At the end of March, the FDA set up a pathway for scientists to try convalescent plasma with patients and study its impact. It has already been used to treat more than 60,000 Covid-19 patients.

However, like blood, convalescent plasma is in limited supply and must come from donors. And while there are promising signals from some studies, there is not yet randomized clinical trial data on convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19. Some of those trials are underway.

Experts say more data is needed

US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said studies involving 70,000 volunteers justified the EUA.

“The data we gathered suggests that patients who were treated early in their disease course, within three days of being diagnosed, with plasma containing high levels of antibodies, benefited the most from treatment. We saw about a 35% better survival in the patients who benefited most from the treatment,” Azar told the White House briefing.

“We dream in drug development of something like a 35% mortality reduction. This is a major advance in the treatment of patients. A major advance.”

Azar appeared to be referring to a national study of 35,000 patients treated with convalescent plasma. The study, released August 12 in a pre-print, meaning it had not yet been peer-reviewed, showed that 8.7% of patients who were treated within three days of diagnosis died, compared to about 12% of patients who were treated four days or more after their diagnosis. That’s about a difference of about 37%.

Those treated with plasma containing the highest levels of antibodies had a 35% lower risk of dying within a week compared to those treated with less-rich plasma.

But this is not how doctors usually measure the benefit of a treatment. The gold standard is a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial that means that doctors randomly choose who gets the treatment and who doesn’t, so they can truly tell whether it’s the treatment affecting survival and not something else. And the comparison is usually treated patients compared to untreated patients — not patients treated earlier compared to those treated later.

“The problem is, we don’t really have enough data to really understand how effective convalescent plasma is,” Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine at George Washington University and a CNN medical analyst, said Sunday.

“While the data to date show some positive signals that convalescent plasma can be helpful in treating individuals with COVID-19, especially if given early in the trajectory of disease, we lack the randomized controlled trial data we need to better understand its utility in COVID-19 treatment,” Dr. Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said in a statement.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said he thought it likely the White House pressured the FDA into pushing through the EUA.

“I think what’s happening here is you’re seeing bullying, at least at the highest level of the FDA, and I’m sure that there are people at the FDA right now who are the workers there that are as upset about this as I am,” Offit told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

According to a knowledgeable source, Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Dr. H. Clifford Lane, who works under Fauci at NIAID, were among government health officials who had previously been skeptical there was enough data to justify emergency authorization of plasma for Covid-19.

‘Great demand from patients and doctors’

President Trump said there might have been a holdup on the EUA, “but we broke the logjam over the last week to be honest,” Trump said at the briefing. He said he believed there were officials at the FDA and in the Department of Health and Human Services “that can see things being held up and wouldn’t mind so much.”

“It’s my opinion, very strong opinion, and that’s for political reasons,” Trump said. Hahn denied the decision was made for any other than legitimate medical reasons.

“I took an oath as a doctor 35 years ago to do no harm. I abide by that every day,” Hahn said in a statement to CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“I’ve never been asked to make any decision at the FDA based on politics. The decisions the scientists at the FDA are making are done on data only.”

Hahn said during the briefing the agency decided the treatment was safe, and looked potentially effective enough to justify the EUA, which is not the same as full approval.

“So we have ongoing clinical trials that are randomized between a placebo, or an inactive substance, and the convalescent plasma. While that was going on we knew there was great demand from patients and doctors,” Hahn said.

While an EUA can open the treatment to more patients, it could also have the effect of limiting enrollment in clinical trials that determine whether it’s effective.

On Thursday, Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said that doctors have treated so many Covid-19 patients with convalescent plasma, it has been difficult to figure out if the treatment works.

“The problem with convalescent plasma is the great enthusiasm about it,” Woodcock said in an online conversation about the latest science behind monoclonal antibody treatments and convalescent plasma. “It exceeded anyone’s expectation as far as the demand.”

Bioethics expert Art Caplan said he’s worried about whether there’s a large enough supply of convalescent plasma. With an EUA, doctors will be more likely to give convalescent plasma without tracking data, so it will then be difficult to determine which donors have the most effective plasma, and which patients are the best candidates to receive it.

“We’re going to get a gold rush towards plasma, with patients demanding it and doctors demanding it for their patients,” said Caplan, the founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine.

Indian Overseas Congress, USA, seeks dismissal of Ankhi Das, FACEBOOK content Chief in India

Indian Overseas Congress, USA, an advocacy group that promotes democracy, freedom, and equal justice in India, condemns the FACEBOOK management for its election-year interference, content bias, and suppression of free expression by Indian citizens to help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), that is in power.

The Wall Street Journal dated August 14, 2020, wrote a story on how FACEBOOK’s blatant bias and dubious practices in India in favor of the Modi government is having an impact on the social media as regards its citizen’s right to express their opinions in public. These revelations shine a light on how major business houses that include Ambani’s Jio platform and Tech companies in Silicon Valley are heavily invested in India’s current politics and interferes in its communal faultlines.

“It is quite unfortunate that a company founded in a free society undermines the very essence of that philosophy in a sister democracy in the world and that too in favor of a political party that demonstrated its disdain for pluralism, democracy and freedom of religion, “ said George Abraham, Vice-Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, USA.

It has been reported that Ms. Ankhi Das, the content manager in charge of FACEBOOK in India, is said to have told her colleagues “punishing violations by politicians from the @narendramodi party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country.” Reuters reported that a handful of employees had written a letter asking FACEBOOK to denounce “anti-Muslim” bigotry” from BJP politicians that Ankit Das said to have protected.

“Congress party valiantly fought for freedom and independence and the dignity of every Indian for the last 74 years, and it is regrettable to see that India’s democracy has now been undermined by a profit-making company such as FACEBOOK,” said Mohinder Singh, president of the IOC, USA.

It is a well-known fact that India is the largest market for FACEBOOK and WhatsApp, and these companies have a huge responsibility in managing the content without bias and bigotry. However, they have chosen the side of those that incite violence and encourage instability that has led to destruction of lives and property. Facebook shoulders a heavy responsibility for what has transpired.

IOC, USA, supports the proposal by the AICC asking Facebook to set up a panel to investigate the blatant bias regarding BJP-RSS and punish those who have engaged in such dubious practices. As a first step, Ankhi Das, who is the content manager for FACEBOOK in India, should be relieved of her duties and be investigated for her connection to a political party since her actions have tainted the company’s reputation as an independent arbiter of opposing viewpoints.

Facebook says will purge hateful posts by public figures in India

Facing intense political heat in India over its alleged role in favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on its platform, social networking giant Facebook on Friday clarified its position, saying it has removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India which violate its community standards.

Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India, said in a statement that Facebook has always been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.

“Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take the allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” Mohan said.

He was referring to the controversy generated after a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claimed that Facebook’s content regulation policies favoured the BJP.

The WSJ report sparked a widespread debate in India, raising serious questions over Facebook’s content regulation practices.

The report claimed that Facebook India’s Public Policy Head Ankhi Das had told staff members that punishing violations by BJP politicians would damage the company’s business prospects.

Mohan said the policies at Facebook are “ever-evolving to take into account the local sensitivities, especially in a multicultural society such as India”.

“An example is the inclusion of caste as a protected characteristic in our global hate speech policy in 2018,” Mohan said.

The Facebook India chief said that the employees represent a varied political spectrum who have either served in many administrations or have political experience and take immense pride in being active contributors to public service.

“Despite hailing from diverse political affiliations and backgrounds, they perform their respective duties and interpret our policies in a fair and non-partisan way. The decisions around content escalations are not made unilaterally by just one person; rather, they are inclusive of views from different teams and disciplines within the company,” he elaborated.

Amid the debate, BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya has claimed that Mohan worked with the Planning Commission during the UPA era.

According to Mohan, there is no place for hate speech on Facebook but they need to do more.

“We know this work is never over, which is why we will continue to invest in our efforts to combat hate speech on our services. We welcome the opportunity to engage with all parties — political or otherwise — who want to understand our content policies and enforcement more,” he said, adding that Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering.

The Congress has demanded that Facebook should order a high-level inquiry into its leadership team and their operations in a time-bound manner, and publish and make transparent all instances of hate speech since 2014 that were allowed on the platform.

“Facebook India should appoint a new team so that the investigation is not influenced,” said Congress leader K.C. Venugopal in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

US India Security Council Organizes Fund Raiser For Congressman Joe Kennedy III

The US India Security council had a video conference and Fund Raiser with Congressman Joe Kennedy (Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district) on August 23rd. The conference was attended by Ramesh Kapur, Koty  Srinivasa, Bharat Barai, Anil Deshpande, Rajendar Dichpally, Ravi Hotchandani, Anup Vashist , Vijay Nalamada,  and staff of Congressman Joe Kennedy III.

Congressman Joe Kennedy a lawyer by profession and scion of the famous Kennedy family,  grandson of U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, a grandnephew of U.S. President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, and a great-grandson of U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.

Joe Spoke about his vision for Massachusetts’s and how he plans to tackle the various issues that confront the state. He said that rebuilding the businesses in the state, with emphasis on small business is his main priority. He also said that the recent attacks against the minority community did not reflect the great values and ethos of America. He said restoring the pride of American and the respect it commands in the comity of nations would he his highest priority as Senator in addition to tacking the local issues of the state.

Ramesh Kapur who is a long time friend of the Kennedy family said that the Indian American community has a great friend in Joe Kennedy and urged the future Senator to be a member of the Armed Service committee of the senate so that he can help USA and India face the many challenges that the two democracies face. He also said the Ed Markey who is the incumbent Senator is Anti-India and has not endeared himself to the Indian American Community.

Bharat Barai said that he will ensure that Joe Kennedy III will get a congratulation letter from the Indian Prime Minister once he wins the senate race and assured all support to the congressman. Anil Deshpande said that he would like the future Senator to visit India officially as a senator and understand the country and its people for a long-lasting partnership.

Ravi Hotchandani wished that Joe Kennedy tackle the poverty issues the same way and with the same passion that his late Grandfather addressed them and earned a permanent place in the hearts of the poor and under privileged people. Koty Krishna asked the Congressman about he plans to tackle China which is a major issue to USA because of its military and economic threat to the country.

Ajay Nalamada wanted Joe Kennedy to reform the immigration policies and ensure that America removed the present quota system so that the country can benefit from the best talent from countries like India. Rajendar Dichpally said that the Kennedy’s and India enjoy a special relationship and quoted the example of the late President John F Kennedy (JFK) who broke protocol to go inside the Air India Aircraft to receive the first Indian Prime Minister – Jawahar Lal Nehru who had come on a state visit to the USA. He wished that the special relationship be carried forward with the future Senator – Joe Kennedy.

Indian Americans Overwhelmingly Support Biden-Harris Candidacy

Indian Americans for Biden-Harris, a recently formed grassroots group, celebrates the groundbreaking announcement on August 11th of Senator Kamala Devi Harris as the vice-presidential running mate of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden.  The group Indian Americans for Biden was formed in July 2020 to establish a unified Indian American voice to support and help elect Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. With the addition to the 2020 ticket of Senator Harris, proud daughter of Indian immigrant Mrs. Shyamala Gopalan, the rapidly growing grassroots group saw a phenomenal number of requests to join the group within hours of the announcement which has grown by over 1,000% since July.

The Indian American community in the U.S., which is now over 4 million strong has achieved incredible success on the path paved by the U.S. civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King and John Lewis, who as Senator Harris notes, were inspired by the non-violence philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. “Senator Harris has got this, and we as a community have got her back. She knows what it means to operate on multiple identity levels in America. The Indian American community is overwhelmingly Democratic, and we will see unprecedented levels of organizing and voting in the Indian American community, as well as the larger Asian American community.” said Seema Nanda, former DNC CEO, the first Indian American CEO of any U.S. political party.

It is befitting now that we mobilize to elect the first woman of both Black and Indian descent to the White House along with VP Biden, who appreciates that Senator Harris represents the essence of America as VP Biden was quoted to say “Her Story is America’s Story”. With this first major decision as President, VP Biden has ignited energy and hope not only for Indian Americans and South Asians, but for all women of color that hard work, courage and determination are still the path to achieving the American Dream. “This is the America we must fight to protect with everything we have and elect the Biden-Harris ticket this November” said group’s co-founder Anu Kosaraju.  Another co-founder Dr. Suresh Kumar, noted that VP Biden, has suffered unimaginable tragedies and understands what’s at stake in this election for all Americans, particularly immigrants. “We as immigrants who left our birth-country and worked hard to build our lives in America should feel the same urgency. Being the swing voters in battleground states, we have an extraordinary responsibility in this election,”said Dr. Suresh Kumar.

To cap off this historic week, on August 15, the Indian American community had an opportunity to hear a special message from both VP Biden and Senator Harris at a virtual celebration to mark Indian Independence Day. In a strong show of support to India,  and recalling the countries’ mutual special bond and his efforts over 15 years to deepen ties with  India, VP Biden reiterated his belief that the US becoming closer friends and partners with India will make the world a safer place and if elected President, will stand with India in confronting the threats in the region. Senator Harris’s fondly reminisced about her trips to Madras (former name of Chennai) and how listening from her grandfather about the heroes of India’s Independence fight and watching her mother march in the civil rights movement instilled in her to fight against injustice and that these values shaped her. The trifecta of historic events culminated with the Biden-Harris campaign releasing a policy statement for Indian Americans which underscores the contributions and importance of our community in the beautiful quilted fabric of America.

For decades, Indian Americans have contributed significantly to the economic growth of the United States,  but were conspicuously absent from political discourse, civic engagement and a formal recognition by political parties. “The rising xenophobia coupled with the onslaught of American and democratic values and institutions in the last three years, has driven the community to get politically engaged but has yet to develop a collective and unique Indian American narrative within the Democratic Party even though we immigrated from the largest democracy in the world,” said Satish Korpe, a co-founder of the group.

“While Indians make up 80% of the South Asians diaspora and share the same, political challenges values and goals of the broader Asian American and Pacific Islander community as well, we are also proud of our unique Indian heritage,” Dr. Suresh Kumar said. Through extensive conversations with Indian American community leaders the group’s founders realized that the immigrant Indian community which makes up about two-thirds of the total Indian American voting bloc wanted to coalesce around their common ties to India and the issues that particularly impact them and US-India relationship, and so the group Indian Americans for Biden was formed and has evolved this week to Indian Americans for Biden-Harris.

According to the group’s founding members, Satish Korpe, Dr Suresh Kumar and Anu Kosaraju, Facebook was the platform they found to be the fastest way to bring together people from across the country to unite in the mission to get Joe Biden, and now Senator Kamala Devi Harris elected this November, while also solidifying an Indian American identity within the Democratic Party. With less than 80 days to November 3, the group is working tirelessly inspired by Senator Harris’ call to action, “Our children and grandchildren will ask us where we were when the stakes were so high. They will ask us what it was like. I don’t want us to tell them how we felt. I want us to tell them what we did.

To get involved with Indian American for Biden-Harris, please join our Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/indianamericansforbiden/

The Rise Of Kamala Harris Is Symbolic Of The Coming Of Age Of Indian Americans

“My name is pronounced “comma-la”, like the punctuation mark,” Kamala Harris writes in her 2018 autobiography, The Truths We Hold. The California senator, daughter of an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father, then explains the meaning of her Indian name. “It means ‘lotus flower’, which is a symbol of significance in Indian culture. A lotus grows underwater, its flowers rising above the surface while the roots are planted firmly in the river bottom.”

The Vice Presidential Candidate, Kamala Harris’s public image has been more tied to her identity as an African-American politician, especially recently during the current conversation around race and the Black Lives Matter movement in the US.

But Indian-Americans also view her as one of their own, her candidacy suggesting a potential wider recognition of the Indian and South Asian communities in the country. It is clear that her late mother was a big inspiration for Kamala Harris. Shyamala Gopalan was born in the southern Indian city of Chennai, the oldest of four children.

The speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday created a buzz on social media among the Indian-American and Tamilian community after she gave a special shoutout to her “chithis” while emphasising the importance of family. Tamil word ‘chithi‘ means aunt.

Harris, who made history by being the first Black woman and the first woman of Indian descent to contest US elections on a major party’s ticket, made the remark during her vice-presidential acceptance speech. In her speech, Harris spoke about the importance of family support in shaping an individual.

“She raised us to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage. She taught us to put family first. The family you are born into and the family you choose,” said Harris while talking about her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris. Describing what family means to her, she said, “Family is my uncles, my aunts, and my chithis”.

For many Tamil Americans, Kamala Harris’s use of the phrase chitti was a small but significant way for the vice-presidential candidate to say, before an audience of millions, that she is one of them, too. As she accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president last week, California Sen. Kamala Harris recounted how she had been taught to “put family first.”

That covers both “the family you’re born into and the family you choose,” she said. Family is her husband, she said, and her two step-kids. Her sister, her sorority, her best friend, her godchildren. And then, she added, “Family is my uncles, my aunts and my chittis.” That last word, a Tamil term of endearment for the younger sisters of one’s mother, was met with a fierce outpouring of pride across social media.

For many Tamil Americans, Ms Harris’s use of the phrase – which can also be spelled out phonetically in English as “citti,” “chitthi” or “chitthi” – was more than just another word for “auntie.” It was a small but significant way for the vice-presidential candidate to say, before an audience of millions, that she is one of them, too. “Americans everywhere are googling ‘chitthi’ but @KamalaHarris we know,” Gautam Raghavan, a former Obama White House staffer, wrote on Twitter. “And we love you for it.”

By now, the basics of Ms Harris’s Black and South Asian identity are familiar: Born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother who met as graduate students, she was raised to appreciate her Black and South Asian heritage but prefers to call herself simply “American.”

Yet less commonly acknowledged in that biography is the regional heritage of her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, in Tamil Nadu, a South Indian state whose majority ethnic group is known for a deep pride in its distinct language and culture.

More than 240,000 people in the United States speak Tamil at home, according to census data, and a growing number of Tamil Americans – including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, actress Mindy Kaling, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. – have risen to national prominence in recent years.

In 2015, the comic Aziz Ansari featured lengthy snippets of Tamil dialogue during a much-celebrated episode of “Master of None,” when his real-life parents appeared on the show to played his fictional ones. But there’s nothing quite like prime-time politics.

“A Tamil word in an acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Still blows my mind,” wrote Hari Sevugan, the former deputy campaign manager for Pete Buttigieg. “Despite this president, ‘only in America’ is still a thing.”

As her multiracial heritage challenges American notions of identity, and some have accused Harris of playing down her South Asian roots – or merely not playing them up as much as her Black identity – her use of “chittis” was a swift reproach.

“My Indian mother knew she was raising two Black daughters,” the candidate told the Los Angeles Times in 2015. “But that’s not to the exclusion of who I am in terms of my Indian heritage.”

After her parents’ divorce in the early 1970s, Harris often traveled as a child to visit relatives in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu city where her maternal grandparents had settled. She wore saris to family events and spoke Tamil with her relatives, the Times reported.

In her autobiography, Kamala Harris described how her mother would often use Tamil around the house to express “affection or frustration.” Her use of the word chitti is a reflection of the family structures and specific language used by Brahmin Tamils, a group that includes Gopalan and her family in India, said Vasu Renganathan, a lecturer in Tamil at the University of Pennsylvania.

The combination of linguistic Tamil roots that mean “little mother,” it can also be used to refer to a stepmother or even a friend of one’s mother who is a bit younger than her. A popular Tamil soap opera called “Chitti,” which first aired 20 years ago, tells of the relationship between a young girl who loses her mother and the woman she begins to treat as a maternal figure.

Hours after Harris’s speech, Renganathan told The Washington Post he was disappointed that Harris did not sprinkle in more Tamil phrases.

“Tamils are passionate about their homeland, and many want to identify themselves as Tamil in order to distinguish from North Indians or other South Indians,” he said. “She could have at least talked about her ‘amma,’ her own mother.” But, he added, it’s only a matter of time before she uses more Tamil on the campaign trail.

Rishi Sunak, Kamala Harris And The Rise Of The New Model Minority

The rise of political figures like Rishi Sunak, Kamala Harris and Bobby Jindal in countries like the UK and US serves to discredit radical voices of minority empowerment.

Rishi Sunak is the latest poster boy for Indian success stories abroad. The chancellor of the exchequer until recently, he could well become Britain’s next prime minister. He and his parents featured in a 2001 BBC documentary series about the middle classes. Sunak, who had been educated at the prestigious Winchester College, bragged on camera he had friends among the British aristocracy and upper class — but, he stressed, “not working class”.

In the two decades since that interview — whose clips are currently doing the rounds on Twitter and TikTok — Sunak has assiduously maintained his select company. After graduating from Oxford and Stanford universities, he advised investment banks and hedge funds before becoming a Member of Parliament from the “safe” Conservative Party seat of Richmond in Northern Yorkshire. Somewhere in between, he also got married to the daughter of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy. The couple are counted among Britain’s richest people today.

Sunak is among a clutch of political figures of Indian origin who have recently risen to prominence in the West. These include British home secretary Priti Patel, US ex-governors and presidential hopefuls Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal and, most notably, US Vice President Kamala Harris. Their ascent is viewed either as epitomizing the intelligence and industry of Indians that makes them stand out everywhere — or as evidence of the prospects inherent in “inclusive” Western societies, which enable immigrants and people of color to achieve their potential. But as Sunak’s story suggests, the truth is quite the opposite.

The newfound success of Indians reflects how the opportunity structure of Western liberal democracies rewards the privileged and the powerful — or those who serve their interests. At the same time, it illustrates how the politics of identity is abused to undermine any possibility of change.

The families of many of these political prodigies moved to the US or the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. This was a time of upheaval in both countries, which forced them to relax their immigration laws — although for different reasons. Britain, no longer the colonial power it used to be, needed more people from erstwhile colonies to rebuild after the Second World War. The US not only faced the challenge of the Cold War but also growing domestic discontent in the form of Black Americans taking to the streets to demand equal rights. A 1965 US law overturned several provisions that had curtailed immigration from non-European countries. Ostensibly meant to showcase the US as the land of the free, the new policy insidiously encouraged the expansion of non-Black minorities as a means of containing the civil rights movement.

It went hand-in-hand with a concerted campaign to typecast East Asian immigrants as the “model minority”. Soon after the immigration act was passed, the New York Times published an article praising Japanese Americans for achieving great success, measured in terms of higher education and low crime rates and contrasted directly with the failures of the ”problem minority”, viz. Blacks. Similar eulogies were sung for the Chinese Americans.

Virtually overnight, the same East Asians who had been regarded for more than a century as the “yellow peril” morphed into pliant, law-abiding, productive members of society who ought to serve as an exemplar for other minorities. The purpose behind the model minority stereotype was to discredit the demands of the civil rights movement by blaming Black Americans for all their suffering — whitewashing the history of slavery and segregation. The tag also served to divide minority groups and derail the possibility of multi-ethnic mobilisation.

Sixty years later, as the US simmers with chants of Black Lives Matter and China’s rise as a global power has once more transformed East Asians into the yellow peril, it is Indians who have emerged as the new model minority.

They do meet the requisite criteria. Nearly 79 percent of Indian Americans aged 25 or over have a bachelor’s degree, compared with just 33 percent on average for other communities, according to the 2019 census. Indians are also more likely to be employed than others and typically work in high-paying sectors. As a result, Indian households had a median income of $132,000, more than double the median for other immigrant groups combined.

These statistics are touted as proof that hard work can lead anyone to success in the US — the quintessence of the so-called American Dream. As Haley once said, “We’re just good at being Americans.”

But the figures hide more than they reveal. Comparing Indians and other communities is much like comparing proverbial apples and oranges. Many Indians in the US come from privileged sections of Indian society or the Indian diaspora. The vast majority have arrived in recent years. And they have migrated by choice, typically to take up plum jobs in management, business, science and technology, and the like — or to study and then take up plum jobs in these sectors.

This history is quite different from, say, the centuries of systematic persecution experienced by Black Americans initially brought to the US as slaves from Africa or the genocide that Native Americans had to live through. Talking about Jindal or Haley or Harris’s success as though it is exclusively Indian also disregards the progress on civil rights made possible by the political struggles of other minorities — struggles that Indians did not participate in but benefit from today.

This is not to suggest that Indian Americans do not experience prejudice — they do, and it is on the rise by all accounts. Nor does it imply that Indians do not work hard or do not deserve their success. But the glowing achievements of an already well-to-do community are mobilised to shade the injustices that other minorities are speaking out against. One moneyed Indian political figure after another, belonging to one mainstream political party or the other, is unveiled as an acceptable alternative to the uncomfortable politics of protest and grassroots mobilisation that Black Lives Matter represents.

Education, income and a general unwillingness to cause “trouble” even when dealing with racist violence has allowed Indians in the US to take on the mantle of the new model minority — especially at this moment of renewed racial angst that bears parallels with the civil rights era. A similar shift has occurred in Britain too, where Hindus and Sikhs are now regarded as part of the “middle classes” — in other words, the mainstream of British society.

The policy positions of these Indian politicians give the lie to claims that their rise somehow represents the cause of inclusivity and social justice. As governor of Louisiana, Jindal cut taxes on business investments while making it harder for the poor to receive healthcare. Haley, a fellow Republican, has supported the flying of racist Confederate flags. Meanwhile, Harris, a Democrat, fought to ensure more and more people — many of whom tend to be Black or other minorities — remained inside privately owned prisons while serving as attorney general of California.

The hypocrisy of these political leaders who hail from immigrant families is perhaps most evident when it comes to immigration policy. Jindal and Haley have supported a slew of laws that make immigration to the US difficult and the life of immigrants harder. While touring Latin American countries as vice president, Harris told would-be migrants, “Do not come. Do not come.” Across the pond, Patel is widely regarded as imposing a ruthless regime against immigrants and asylum seekers, especially during the Covid19 pandemic — bordering on illegality and termed by a judge as “extremely troubling”.

While champions of identity politics might celebrate the ascendance of Sunak and his ilk to the upper echelons of power in Western capitals, the success of these “different-looking” individuals is unlikely to make any difference. If anything, it shores up power and privilege within these liberal democracies. It also illustrates the emptiness of the liberal promise of representation, which barters the struggle for social change with the success of a few individuals who pride themselves in having no working-class friends.

Biden Urges Nation Not To Panic Over Omicron Fears

US President Joe Biden has called the Omicron Covid variant a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic” one day after it was detected in North America.

Cases have been found in Canada, and his speech from the White House comes as US travel bans on eight African countries takes effect. Biden also urged people to get a booster and to wear masks.

He said he does not anticipate any further US travel restrictions or lockdowns at this time.

In remarks on Monday, the president called it “almost inevitable” that the Omicron strain, first reported by South Africa, will be found in the US “at some point”. He added that said vaccine companies are creating “contingency plans” for new vaccines “if needed”.

Late last week, the US announced a ban on flights from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Canada, the UK and the EU and other countries have also restricted travel from southern Africa.

In his remarks, Mr Biden said that the ban had bought some time for the US to study the new strain. While the World Health Organization has deemed Omicron a “variant of concern”, it is still not clear whether it is associated with more transmission or more risk of evading vaccines.

“We have the best vaccine in the world, and the best medicines, the best scientist and we’re learning more every single day,” the president said. He also vowed to “fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed. Not chaos and confusion”.

He praised the scientific community of South Africa for reporting the strain, despite criticism that travel bans are being used to punish the country.

“To their credit, the scientific community in South Africa quickly notified the world of the emergence of this new variant,” Mr Biden said. “This kind of transparency is to be encouraged and applauded because it increases our ability to respond quickly to any new threats, and that’s exactly what we did.”

He also said he was directing the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates vaccines, to use the “fastest process available without cutting any corners” to approve any potential new vaccines that specifically target Omicron.

Canada, the US neighbour to the north, said on Sunday that the Omicron strain had been discovered in two patients who had recently travelled to Nigeria. A third case was announced on Monday.

TheUNN WhatsApp Group

Join and follow our WhatsApp group for daily news and updates. It's completely free!

-+=