Kamala Harris Makes History as First Woman and Woman of Color as Vice President of USA

The greatest democracy on earth took over 250 years to elect a female to be the Vice President. And, justifiably so, the first woman, who has made the cut, breaking the barriers and the glass ceilings that prevented any female from being elected to the office, is none other than the first time Senator from California, an first Indian American and Black American candidate, Kamala Harris. When Joe Biden, President-Elect gives his first speech to Congress, his first words promise to be memorable: “Madame Vice-President”.

The historic 2020 election, held among a pandemic that has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, did not deter the nearly 150 million Americans from casting their ballots, the highest ever voter turn out in any US election, helped win Biden-Harris ticket to the White House on November 3rd, 2020.  With millions of votes still to be counted, the Biden-Harris ticket has received the most votes ever – more than 75 million – in the history of America’s elections.

When Kamala Devi Harris enters 1 Observatory Circle, the official home of the Vice President in January 2021, she will have achieved many firsts: The first woman, the first person of Indian descent, the first African-American, the first with Jamaican heritage, the first daughter of immigrants to hold that office

Joe Biden, who has been declared the winner of the 2020 US presidential election by the media, marveling at her string of firsts, said on Saturday: “Once again, America has bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice. It’s long overdue.”

Her multi-racial background gives her a degree of identity fluidity to navigate American society riven by race and ethnicity. Harris’ lightning fast political rise and her triumph marks a high point for women of color in politics at an anxious time in American society. Harris, 55, is a California senator, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. She is also a former prosecutor, whose grilling of Trump’s appointees and unflappable cool has transported her to Democratic Party stardom.

Harris won her first election in 2003 and became San Francisco’s district attorney. In 2010, she became the first woman of color to be elected California’s attorney general. Harris was elected to the US Senate in 2016. The historic nature of Harris’ candidacy has underlined her every stump speech, and Harris handled the pressure with a certain confidence that comes from years of tough questioning and tons of preparation.

Surrounded by the unmistakable aura of a historic campaign, the Harris candidacy has had some remarkable moments since August. First came Harris’ introduction to America, during the Democratic National Convention. There, Harris framed the election as a race that hinges, among other things, on the fighting spirit that her mother taught her.

“There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother. She’d say, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’” has become Harris’ favorite pull out on her mother Shyamala Gopalan, a woman who paved the way for Harris’ path-breaking candidacy.

Shyamala Gopalan came to the US from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met Donald Harris who had come from Jamaica to study economics. “They fell in love in that most American way — while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.”

In all her best moments of political oratory, Harris finds ways of weaving in echoes of her mother’s fight song and the civil rights movement, just like she did during her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. The Shyamala Gopalan stamp on Kamala Harris’ candidacy is at once powerful and unmistakable. Harris grew up between Oakland and Berkeley in California and spent time in college towns in the Midwest before attending college on the US East Coast. Harris’ father, in an essay, describes his elder child Kamala Harris as “ever the adventurous and assertive one”.

Harris is the embodiment of the American dream with the amalgam of all those unique identities and adding to that her White Jewish husband, Douglas Emhoff, and step-daughters to complete the American mosaic.

“Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high?” Harris said at the Democratic National Convention in August. “They will ask us, what was it like? And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did.”

Born in the US to immigrants, cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan from India and economics professor Donald Harris from Jamaica, Harris has leapt in a generation to a position that puts her a heartbeat away from the presidency. Harris wrote in her memoir, “The Truths We Hold”, that she was raised in “a place where people believed in the most basic tenet of the American Dream: that if you worked hard and do right by the world, your kids will be better of than you were”.

While the African-American identity became the dominant one and, in fact, the one that boosted her chances to the get the vice presidential nomination, Harris wrote: “Our classical Indian names harked back to our heritage and we were raised with a strong awareness of and appreciation for Indian culture. “My mother, grandparents, aunts and uncle instilled us with pride in our South Asian roots. “I was also very close to my mother’s brother, Balu, and her two sisters, Sarala and Chinni (whom I called Chittis, which means ‘younger mother’ (in Tamil),” she recalled.

In her memoir, Harris wrote that the lesson she inherited from her mother that “it was service to others that gave life purpose and meaning” came from her grandmother Rajam, who had not completed high school but was a fiery protector of victims of domestic abuse.

In her victory speech on Saturday night, she said of her mother: “When she came here from India at the age of 19, maybe she didn’t quite imagine this moment. But she believed so deeply in an America where a moment like this is possible.”

Joe Biden Elected 46th President of the United States

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was elected the nation’s 46th president Saturday in a repudiation of President Trump powered by legions of women and minority voters who rejected his handling of the corona virus pandemic and his divisive, bullying conduct in office. America has chosen Democrat Joe Biden as its 46th president, turning at a time of national crisis to a man whose character was forged by aching personal tragedy and who is pledging to restore calm and truth after Donald Trump‘s exhausting and manic single term.

After four full days of waiting patiently for the slow march of vote counting to work itself out, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph R Biden, 77, pulled off one of the great political turnarounds in America by defeating Donald Trump in the US 2020 election. When he is sworn in on January 20, 2021, Biden will be 78. Exactly 160 years ago around this time, Abraham Lincoln was elected US President.

The Associated Press called the 2020 election for Democratic nominee Joe Biden after calling the race in Pennsylvania, giving the former vice president more than the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the presidency. “I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees a United States,” Biden said.

Biden’s victory was the culmination of four years of struggle for Democrats and others who have resisted Trump. It was celebrated by an emotional outpouring in cities coast to coast that ended with a tailgate-style victory party in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Del. The election took four days to be resolved after the former vice president was projected to win a series of battleground states, and was clinched by the state where he was born, Pennsylvania.

Voters also made history in electing as vice president Kamala Devi Harris, 56, a senator from California and daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants who will become the country’s first woman, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the No. 2 job.In a prime-time speech to flag-waving supporters outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Biden made no mention of Trump’s intransigence, instead offering an olive branch to the president’s supporters and imploring all Americans to “put away the harsh rhetoric” and end “this grim era of demonization.”

“To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy,” Biden said, before referring to the Book of Ecclesiastes. “The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America.” Before introducing Biden, Harris acknowledged the history-making reality of her election, saying she stood on the shoulders of trailblazing women and would do her best to join their ranks.

The current occupant of the White House continues to project a defiant public posture, though. White House insiders, although deflated, have been sending signals that Trump has no plans to concede until every last fight is finished. Five states are yet to report final results. Trump is fuming, he remains defiant and continues to allege “fraud” in Pennsylvania and other battlegrounds. His children have chimed into the overall White House meltdown, in terms that generally occupy the wide arc between what’s “legal” and “illegal”. While President Trump is contesting the outcome of the election, experts see no clear path to reversing the results, since Biden has won too many electoral college votes and is too far ahead in key states for legal challenges to make much of a difference.

Biden is a sharp contrast to Trump, both in the personal and political realm. The last three days in particular have shown Americans glimpses of that very difference. Biden spent every day since November 3 trying to ease tensions and delivering his messages with little outward show of anxiety. The disciplined nature of the campaign extends to plans for the lame duck phase of the Trump presidency. Two full days before the final results came, the Biden campaign unveiled its transition website, underscoring its quiet confidence in what was to come.

Former President Barack Obama released a statement that served as testimonial to the character of his former vice president and asked Americans to set aside their political differences and give him a chance.  “When he walks into the White House in January, he’ll face a series of extraordinary challenges no incoming President ever has — a raging pandemic, an unequal economy and justice system, a democracy at risk, and a climate in peril,” Obama wrote. “I know he’ll do the job with the best interests of every American at heart, whether or not he had their vote.”  The former President asked every American to “give him a chance and lend him your support.”

AAPI Congratulates President-Elect Biden & Vice President-Elect Harris

Chicago, Il: November 8th, 2020) “We want to express our sincere congratulations and best wishes to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their historic winning of the 2020 Presidential elections,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President of AAPI said here today. Describing these as “critical times” for the nation, Dr. Jonnalagadda said, “We the members of the medical fraternity are encouraged by President –Elect Biden’s plans to create a Federal COVID Task Force and his pledge to set up a Pandemic Testing Board to “produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.”
 
In her congratulatory note, Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI BOT, while wishing the new Administration the very best as he prepares to assume office on January 20th, 2021, praised Biden for pledging “to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn’t see red states and blue states, only sees the United States.”
 
Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, in a message lauded Biden and Harris, who has “made history by being elected to be the first ever woman to become the Vice President of the United States.” Referring to her Indian origins, Dr. Gotimukula described the election of Kamala Harris as “Inspiring and is of immense pride for all Indian-Americans.”
 
While expressing appreciation to Biden for wanting to set up a nationwide contact-tracing program and call on governors to impose mask-wearing mandates, which is an effective way of containing the spread of the virus, Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, said, “It’s heartening that our own esteemed AAPI member, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General of the US is being considered to be the co-chair of the Presidential Panel on COVID.”
 
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 continues to climb and is likely to worsen as colder temperatures drive Americans indoors and case counts go up. ““We wish the new administration under Biden Presidency success in all of its endeavors to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and get our economy back on track. We at AAPI will continue to work hard to provide the best of care to all those who need,” said, Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said.
 
There are about 80,000 practicing Indian American physicians who are at the forefront of fighting COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In addition, there are around 40,000 medical students, residents, and fellows of Indian origin in this country who are supporting many of the hospitals affected by the pandemic. “Physicians of Indian Origin have been in the front lines during the pandemic risking their lives everyday, and we look forward to continue to serve nation under the new Presidency led by Biden,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI.
  
Describing the numerous efforts by AAPI, Dr. Jonnalagadda said, “AAPI as an organization has helped and is continuing to help the communities during COVID-19 pandemic. AAPI has written letters to the current president’s office for universal masking, social distancing and to lockdown the country or to have ‘shelter in place’ during the initial phase of the pandemic to prevent spread of the disease. AAPI has raised funds to buy personal protective equipment and donated to several AAPI chapters across the country. The organization conducted close to 100 webinars to educate doctors and community members about CVOID-19.”
 
While offering fullest cooperation to the Biden administration, Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda said,  “The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (APPI) the largest ethnic medical organization in the country has taken several proactive steps in educating their members and the general public about the disease, the preventive steps that needs to be taken at this time and most importantly, they are using all their contacts and resources at the hospital administrative and government level to facilitate treatment protocols to be in place at the various hospitals around the country.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org
 
 

When Power Is Transferred In The United States, Advantages And Disadvantages To Indians

President Trump, who came to power with a big bang, is bidding farewell to the White House, turning to the culmination of even more horrific controversies. One week of global attention was the first week of November, after 9/11, when Trump’s defeat was widely viewed. The success and achievement of history was the glorious victory of Kamala Harris, whom we are proud to be of Indian descent. It is said that in the US presidential election, the Vice Presidential candidate is generally ignored. But this is the first time in American history that a woman has become vice president. Despite all the controversy, this is a record success and achievement, and Indians are thrilled to have an Indian descent to prove that women in America are not inferior to men in any way. The United States was not mature enough to induct a woman president of the United States, that is what Hillary Clinton called out to the world when she lost to Trump; even if  if it landed a woman on the moon on a rocket. Kamala Harris’ success is an inspiration to future generations, proving that immigrants in particular can reach any level in the United States, and to motivate the children of Indians to think and get into politics. The success of Kamala Harris is exciting. (Racism, racism, sectarianism and gender should not be mentioned anymore!). I agree with my friend’s neutral opinion that “Trump was a president who always wanted America to be number one in the world, who was a non-professional politician, a non-intellectual, a conservative.” As for the United States, it was during the Trump administration that the Islamic State, which has been at the forefront of the world by carrying out terrorist attacks around the world, has dismantled the financial resources of Al Qaeda extremist groups. It is also noteworthy that in the last four years, the United States has not invaded or waged a war. He also withdrew troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as he had promised (there is now only a small group in those countries to train indigenous troops). India cannot forget Trump’s support. Because Prime Minister Modi and President Trump were friends. The stories were never disappointing for India. Even there  was a Keralite man at the helm of Trump’s election campaign (not to mention he rowed back if we got nothing to blame). For the past years, President Trump has been a powerful ruler who has knocked down the global threat posed by “growing Chinese imperialism.”He also dared to engage in a trade war with China and send a strong message to Chinese imperialist ambitions that threaten border countries, including India, by deploying naval forces, including in the China Sea. It should be added that former US presidents, including Richard Nixon, sent the Seventh Fleet here before to intimidate India. Throughout history, the foreign policy adopted by the United States has been in favor of China and Pakistan.It was only during Trump’s presidency that the United States took a “U-turn” and took a completely pro-India stance. It is the US support that has given India the energy to retaliate against Chinese imperialism who crossed the Indian border and attacked Indian troops on the same coin. In the recent past, he has signed a number of military and non – military agreements with India, not only ignoring Pakistan, but also suspending US financial aid to Pakistan, citing its pro – terrorist stance. ” The media and hostile nations, which never acknowledge his atrocities and patriotism, continue to accuse him of being a clown. As my friend pointed out, whatever shortcomings he had, some Indian progressives may admit, it may be due to ignorance, or the extreme of unbridled greed, even enjoying all the benefits in America. An excerpt from the Chanakya Sutra reads: “Whether the idol is of stone, metal or wood; the belief that God is present in it is important. The intensity of faith is the measure of blessing.” Likewise, whether the President of the United States is a Republican or a Democrat, that position has its own dignity and superiority over other nations, and the standard of governance should be the measuring yard  Let time pass. As President-elect Joe Biden inspired the American people in his first speech, he stated, “Hereafter, No more Red State, no Blue State; only United States.”(By Dr. Matthew Joys, Las Vegas)

AAPI Hails Appointment of Dr. Vivek Murthy to Lead Covid Task Force by President-Elect Joe Biden

(Washington, DC – November 10, 2010) : “Dr. Vivek Murthy’s appointment by President-Elect Joe Biden to co-chair the Task Force on Corona Virus is highly critical, timely, and much needed,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today. While praising the appointment of the Task Force to be the very first major announcement by the new administration led by President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, Dr. Jonnalagadda described the choice of Dr. Murthy to chair and Dr. Atul Gawande as a member of the Task Force, as “cementing the reputation physicians of Indian origin have across America.” President-elect Joe Biden has turned to three prominent physicians to lead his coronavirus task force who have collectively signaled that they will approach the pandemic far differently than the Trump administration, which they have criticized for mixing politics with science. A top Biden aide announced on Sunday, November 8th the two co-chairs of the incoming administration’s task force: Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. surgeon general, and David Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Murthy and Kessler were outspoken during the 2020 campaign about the need for the FDA to avoid the perception of political interference in evaluating and approving a Covid-19 vaccine. “America is still losing over 1,000 people a day from COVID-19, and that number is rising — and is expected to continue to get worse unless we make progress on masking and other immediate action,” Dr. Jonnalagadda said. ‘That is the reality for now, and for the next few months. The announcement of the Task Force by Biden promises the chance to change that in the coming weeks and months.” “President-Elect Biden has made the right choice in naming the two highly qualified physicians of Indian origin to serve on the most important panel to combat the pandemic and suggest ways to fight and contain the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Sajani Shah, Chair of AAPI’s BOT. Dr. Vivek Murthy, co-chair, was the U.S. surgeon general from 2014-17, who commanded public health force that dealt with Ebola, Zika and Flint water crisis. Dr. Atul Gawande. Professor of surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and at Harvard Medical School, has served as a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration. “We are proud of Dr. Vivek Murthy and his many accomplishments and look forward to supporting him throughout the process, as the nation and the entire world seeks to find best possible solutions to tackle the pandemic that has taken the lives of over a million people around the world and nearly 240,000 in the US alone,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, that represents over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin in the United States. Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, stated that with Dr. Murthy leading the Task Force on the pandemic, he is “looking forward to bringing the experience and perspective of real experts and doctors to the table. His ethics, quiet leadership style and impeccable credentials make him the smart choice for this leadership role.” “Dr. Vivek Murthy represents the next generation of Indian American physicians,” Dr. Amith Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said.  “Dr. Murthy was America’s youngest-ever top doctor, and he was also the first surgeon general of Indian-American descent, when appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014.”  “Dr. Vivek Murthy’s appointment to the Task Force brings new energy in the fight against Covid-19. We at AAPI, look forward to working closely with Dr. Murthy and his team to end this deadly pandemic,” said Dr. Satheesh Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI.   Murthy, 43, who served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States during Obama Administration from December 2014 to April 2017, said Americans need a leader who works with the people for the progress of the country. Dr. Murthy’s commitment to medicine and health began early in life. The son of immigrants from India, he discovered the art of healing watching his parents – Hallegere and Myetriae Murthy – treat patients like family in his father’s medical clinic in Miami, Florida. Indian American Doctors have lobbied earnestly to have Dr. Murthy confirmed as the US Surgeon General under Obama administration. “The feeling of de ja vu was pervasive, of a triumph over injustice with a hard fought battle by the Indian community during his confirmation, with AAPI playing a major role that secured the prize of the highest position occupied by an Indian American, and that too by one from our second generation,” said Dr. Jahagirdar, who had led a delegation of AAPI leaders to be at the historic oath taking ceremony of Dr. Vivek Murthy as the US Surgeon General at Fort Myer in Virginia across from Washington DC on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.  “The oath ceremony, a proud moment for Indian Americans, was led by Joseph Biden, Vice President and currently President-Elect, held in a large hall like a school stadium, with flags in abundance rigged in from the ceiling and leaning in from the sidewalls,” recalls Dr. Suresh Reddy, the immediate past President of AAPI, who was present at the oath ceremony in the nation’s capital. “I am proud of our community of Indian physicians for all the progress that we have made over the years, and I know that AAPI has been a critical force in making this process possible. The advice you shared and assistance you kindly offered were important pieces of this journey,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated in a letter to Dr. Jayesh B. Shah, a past president of AAPI, who along with AAPI’s Legislative Affairs Chair, Dr. Sampat Shivangi and several others had led several delegations to US Senators, lobbying for his confirmation. For more information about AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org  

 

“I Will Govern As An American President,” Joe Biden Stakes Claim To White House

“I will govern as an American president,” Democratic Party candidate Joseph Biden said. “There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America,” as protracted vote counting continues into the weekend in the US Presidential Election held  on November 3rd,   which is considered by most as historic. “We’re going to win this race with a clear majority,” Biden said late Friday, speaking alongside his running mate, Kamala Harris, in his home state of Delaware. “What’s becoming clear each hour is that record number of Americans, of all races, faiths, religions, chose change over more of the same,” he said.

However the Democratic candidate – speaking in his home state of Delaware running mate Kamala Harris by his side on Friday night – stopped short of officially declaring victory in the presidential election. Joe Biden has staked his claim to the US presidency claiming that he has the electoral college votes for a victory, declaring, “We the people will not surrender.”

Biden’s paths to the White House are expanding. Combining the latest wins with Nevada and Georgia would take him past the tape. While all indications suggest that Mr. Biden has succeeded in defeating Mr. Trump, it’s still close enough in four states — Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia — that the contest remains unresolved.

As of early Saturday morning, the Associated Press had called races in most states, allotting to Biden 264 electoral votes, and to Trump, 214. A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to secure the presidency. Joseph Biden pulled ahead of President Trump by more than 28,000 votes in Pennsylvania, where a victory would give Biden the electoral votes he needs to win the presidency. He also widened his leads in Nevada and Georgia. The state of Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes — if President Trump fails win it, he cannot reach the crucial 270 necessary to secure the presidency.

Aides to the president have warned him that he has few legal options to contest the election results, but Trump still wants to try, according a former campaign adviser who remains in touch with key players told the media. “It’s dawning on him,” the former adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity to comment on private conversations. “He never thought he could lose … and those of us who are in Trump World, we actually never believed he could lose,” the former adviser said.

Biden’s speech took on a certain decisiveness in tone as confidence grew with the Democratic party, with back to back wins in Wisconsin and Michigan. These wins are part of the Democratic effort to reclaim a key part of the “blue wall” that slipped away four years ago. It also narrows Donald Trump’s path to reelection. Biden, 77, has told associates that he considers his two terms as vice president and his knowledge of how a White House operates from the inside as crucial advantages in building out a government. And he has made it plain in public and private that a diverse team is central to his mission.

Meanwhile, Biden’s advisers accelerated their transition planning as election results showed him with an advantage in battleground states that could hand him the presidency, with the first senior officials in a potential Biden White House possibly named as early as next week. In Wilmington and Washington, Biden’s advisers and allies are ramping up their conversations about who might fill critical posts, both in the West Wing and across the agencies, guided heavily by Biden’s plan to assemble what would be the most diverse cabinet in history.

Biden, who ran from Day 1 on a message of bringing the country together, is said to be interested in making a bipartisan gesture as he plans a prospective government after a divisive election whose results President Trump has tried to undermine. Biden is looking to fill out his possible White House staff first, with cabinet posts not expected to be announced until around Thanksgiving, according to more than a half-dozen people familiar with the planning process who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the transition.

Biden’s team quietly began raising money for his transition operation in May and has raised at least $7 million to pay for its efforts. The Biden camp has prepared for multiple scenarios in case Trump refused to concede and his administration would not participate in a transition. So far, officials in Trump’s government have worked in good faith, according to Biden officials, who said they hoped and expected that cooperation to continue

According to New York Times, among those expected to play a key health care role in a Biden administration is Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general under President Barack Obama, who has privately advised Biden for months on the pandemic and is expected to play a large public role as a face of the potential Democratic administration’s response to the virus, dispensing advice on mask-wearing and social distancing.

At the center of Biden’s transition planning is Ted Kaufman, his former chief of staff in the Senate, who was appointed to replace Mr. Biden as a senator after he became vice president, as well as Jeff Zients, a former Obama administration official. Parts of the cast that had Mr. Biden’s ear throughout the presidential campaign — Anita Dunn, a senior adviser; Steve Ricchetti, another former vice-presidential chief of staff; and Mr. Klain — are among those guiding the formation of a would-be government. Senator Kamala Harris of California, his running mate, is generating names and speaks regularly to Mr. Biden. In Mr. Biden’s policy orbit on the campaign, Jake Sullivan and Antony J. Blinken are widely seen as the most influential figures, and both are expected to hold senior posts in a potential administration.

The Biden operation is preparing for Trump to potentially put up transition roadblocks. The transition team has already assembled a staff of more than 75 officials, with plans for that number to balloon to roughly 300 transition staff members by Inauguration Day in January.

All 4 Indian Americans Re-elected to US Congress

In an impressive show, all the four Indian-American Democratic lawmakers — Dr. Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi — have been re-elected to the US House of Representatives during the elections held on November 3rd, 2020.

In recent years, the fast growing Indian-American community has emerged as a force to reckon with for the first time in the history of the US presidential election. Both the Democrat and the Republican campaigns had initiated several measures to woo the approximately 1.8 million members of the community who have emerged as a critical voting bloc in the battleground states of Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Meanwhile, in one of the most-watched races of the 2020 election, Indian American Sara Gideon of Maine narrowly lost to Republican incumbent Sen. Susan Collins and failed to flip the seat from red to blue as Democrats struggled to gain control of the Senate. Mainers largely consider themselves Independents. But on Nov. 3 evening, Gideon secured 46 percent of the votes — 338,617 votes — to Collins’ 51 percent: 407,884 votes.

“I have always worked hard to find our shared goals. That doesn’t stop. In fact, it’s more important now. We have to work together to build a better future,” said Gideon, focusing on prioritizing an economy that builds good jobs for working class people, and tackling climate change. “I’m proud of the campaign we ran,” said the candidate.

Democrats flipped two Senate seats on election night: in former red state Arizona, astronaut Mark Kelley beat out incumbent Martha McSally. In Colorado, John Hickenlooper, the state’s former governor, defeated Republican incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Republicans flipped one Senate seat, as Tommy Tuberville in Alabama defeated Democrat Doug Jones.

In House races, Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California serving the 17th Congressional District in Northern California’s East Bay, handily beat Republican challenger Ritesh Tandon to gain a third term in the House. The incumbent won 74 percent — 125,258 votes — while Tandon amassed 26 percent of the vote: 43,775.

“I am so honored and humbled by the overwhelming victory,” Khanna told India-West. “I am proud to represent our community and look forward to working to help bring people together after this divisive chapter in our nation’s history,” he said.

Democrat physician Ami Bera, the longest-serving Indian American in the House, won his re-election bid for California’s CD 7 seat — which represents portions of Sacramento — against former U.S. Air Force pilot, Republican Buzz Patterson. Bera won by 61 percent, 116,437 votes, while Patterson received 39 percent.

“It’s been an honor to represent the people of California’s 7th Congressional District and I am grateful for the trust voters have placed in me once again,” Bera said in a statement Nov. 3 night. “We face many difficult challenges ahead, including ending this pandemic, ensuring affordable and quality health care for every American, and growing our economy for working families,” he said.

“However, we can rise to the occasion and meet these challenges head on, as we’ve done generation after generation before. It will take hard work, empathy, and working across party lines to build compromise. I promise that I will continue to be a leader that puts people over politics to make government work for the people of Sacramento County,” said Bera, who won his 5th term.

Democrat Rishi Kumar failed to win his bid against fellow Democrat Anna Eshoo, who has represented California’s 18th Congressional District — in portions of the Silicon Valley — since 1993. Eshoo won with just under two-thirds of the vote, more than 65 percent, while Kumar received 34 percent, more than 79,000 votes.

Another newcomer, physician Hiral Tipirneni, a Democrat, failed to beat Republican incumbent David Schweikert in Arizona. The red state delivered one of the few surprises of election night, turning blue for the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket. In a virtual press conference Nov. 4 morning, Tipirneni acknowledged that the race was too close to call. She thanked voters for showing up in record numbers and for encouraging family and friends to vote.

“This is exactly where we wanted to be at this point in the race. This is a trajectory that will lead to victory,” she said. “We know we’ve done very well with Independents and cross-over votes, but we will wait to declare victory until every ballot is counted.

In Washington state, Rep. Pramila Jayapal overwhelmingly won her bid for re-election, capturing almost 85 percent: 344,541 votes. “Wow, we did it decisively! Thank you #WA07. I am humbled, grateful and ready to serve again. Our path to truly build a more just and equitable country is long. But we are bold, progressive & unafraid, and if we believe in the possible & organize, we WILL win,” tweeted Jayapal, who was running for her third term in the House.

In Illinois, Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi also handily won his re-election bid against Libertarian Preston Nelson. Krishnamoorthi won with almost 71 percent of the vote: 146,495 votes. “I am honored that my constituents have elected me to represent them in Congress for another two years, and I am tremendously grateful to all my supporters who helped make my re-election possible,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement Nov. 3 evening.

“Today, our country faces enormous and unprecedented economic and public health challenges. No matter who controls the White House or the Senate in January, I am committed to doing whatever it takes to bring the country together to implement common-sense solutions that move our country and our people forward.”

Battle For US Senate To Be Decided In January

As Americans woke the morning after Election Day and raced to their favorite news source, they quickly learned that both the presidential election and the U.S. Senate still hung in the balance. By Saturday morning, an anxious nation was still waiting, although Joe Biden was one state away from attaining 270 electoral votes and with it the Presidency.

However, the U.S. Senate is still undecided, with 48 seats so far claimed by both Democrats and Republicans. (The Democrats’ tally includes the two Independent Senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine, who caucus with the Democrats).

The Senate’s balance of power teeters on the fulcrum of four uncalled races. Although the outstanding seats favor Republicans narrowly holding on to control in the chamber, it is not a foregone conclusion. Friday evening brought news that the second Georgia Senate race was also headed to a run-off, under Georgia election law, meaning the final fate of Senate control will not be known until January. Read on for the latest.

The balance of power in the US Senate will be decided in January, when Georgia will hold run-off elections for both its Senate seats.  No candidate in either race has polled 50%, as required by state election law. The run-off elections will take place on 5 January, two days after the new Senate is due to convene. The Republicans currently have a 53 to 47 majority in the Senate. So far, the Democrats have managed a net gain of one seat.

The Democrats had high hopes of gaining the four seats they needed to take control, but many Republican incumbents held their seats. If however the Democrats can gain both seats in Georgia, a traditionally Republican state, this would lead to a 50-50 tie in the Senate.

The result will effectively put them in control of the chamber if Joe Biden wins the White House, given the vice-president’s power to cast tie-breaking votes. In one of Georgia’s Senate races, incumbent Republican David Perdue had 49.8% of the vote and Democrat Jon Ossoff had 47.9%, according to media reports. “If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we’re ready, and we will win,” Mr Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry said on Thursday. But the Ossoff campaign predicted that “when a run-off is called and held in January, Georgians are going to send Jon to the Senate”.

In Georgia’s other Senate race, Democrat Raphael Warnock won 32.9% and will go into a run-off against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who trailed him with 26%. Loeffler was appointed to the Senate last year to fill a seat left vacant when her predecessor retired.

Of the 35 Senate seats being contested, 23 were Republican-held and 12 were Democrat. The Democrats had hoped to gain several seats, but one of only two wins came in Colorado, where former Governor John Hickenlooper defeated Republican incumbent Cory Gardner.

They also won a seat in Arizona, where former astronaut Mark Kelly defeated Republican incumbent and former fighter pilot Martha McSally. But this gain was cancelled out when Alabama Senator Doug Jones lost to Republican candidate Tommy Tuberville. In Maine, the moderate Republican incumbent Susan Collins staved off a fierce challenge from Democrat Sara Gideon. Democrats have not had control of the Senate for six years.

Although Georgia has long been considered a red state (it hasn’t voted for the Democratic presidential candidate since 1992), this year’s election has revealed there is an emergent plum color in the Peach State. Its 16 electoral votes are still unclaimed. While former Vice President Biden led President Trump by more than 95,000 votes (about 0.1%) as of Saturday morning, Georgia’s Secretary of State has indicated a recount is likely.

The January Georgia Senate showdowns will command an incredible amount of renewed attention and spending from both parties. Should the Democrats pull out a win in both Georgia Senate races, a party-line vote would then result in a 50-50 stalemate in the chamber. Importantly, the Vice President can cast a deciding vote in the Senate. Mike Pence has done so at least 13 times since 2017, a privilege that appears likely to soon be given to Kamala Harris.

 

South Asian Diaspora Rally Together To Elect Biden-Harris

It was 14 December, 2012, when news broke of a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.  Indian-American investment banker Shekar Narasimhan recalls that he was at the White House for a party but the mood quickly turned sombre. He says everyone fell silent as details of the horrific attack emerged – 20 children, all under the age of 10, and six adults died in the shooting.

It was also on that day that Mr Narasimhan first met Dilawar Syed, a Pakistani American. “Our hearts met,” said Mr Syed, a tech entrepreneur in California. “I found one person in the room who happened to be a fellow South-Asian American who was as emotional as I was.”

The two soon became close, co-founding the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Fund (AAPIVF), a group that aims to mobilise and elevate voices from these communities in local and national politics. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders account for more than 20 million people in the US, but their voter registration and turnout is said to be lower than the national averages for other communities.

And this is something Mr Syed and Mr Narasimhan hope to change through their organisation.

Indians and Pakistanis are often seen as being at loggerheads because of strained relations between their respective countries. But in the US, the two communities are part of the same South Asian diaspora and often work together during political campaigns.

“He [Mr Syed] has access to different networks that I didn’t,” said Mr Narasimhan, explaining that he wanted to work with Mr Syed precisely because he hailed from a different community and lives in another part of the US.

Their group endorsed Democratic candidate Joe Biden for presidency in January. The two men believe that Mr Biden’s victory will lead to a “more equal, just” America.

Indians and Pakistanis have a lot in common – some of them speak a similar language, northern Indian and Pakistani food shares a history, and both countries are passionate about cricket and enjoy Bollywood. But Mr Syed said that wasn’t the only thing that brought them together: “Our values are the same.”

Rallying together

India and Pakistan also share a complicated and contentious history. Independence from the British in 1947 was accompanied by a bloody partition of the subcontinent. Millions died in the religious violence that followed.

Since then, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir. Both countries claim the Muslim-majority border region, which remains the biggest bone of contention between them.  But Mr Narasimhan and Mr Syed don’t discuss Kashmir.

“We try and avoid it. We say to each other, look, this election is about domestic issues,” Mr Narasimhan said. Many Indian and Pakistani Americans say thorny issues back home haven’t soured their ties in the US.

Mr Narasimhan said the two communities are far more concerned about issues that directly affect their everyday lives – and that for their children, who were born and raised in the US, the India-Pakistan dispute is not a a big factor.

“My son says what happened 50 or 60 years ago in India and Pakistan, what does that have to do with me?” Mr Narasimhan added.

When it comes to first-generation Pakistani Americans, 9/11 and its aftermath stand out – Mr Syed said it shaped a lot of their experiences in the US. The 11 September attacks led to hate crimes, threats against Muslims, Sikhs and people of Arab and South Asian descent.

Critics of President Donald Trump say that the US has seen an uptick in anti-minority and xenophobic rhetoric since his victory. Mr Syed agrees, adding that Mr Trump is responsible for “a rise in hate, bigotry and anti-immigration sentiment”.

“[With] the events especially in the Trump administration, I did put my faith on my sleeve. I said I want people to know this is what a Muslim American looks like.”

‘What affects us is local’

The Pakistani-American community is nearly a million strong, while Indian Americans are said to total around 4.5 million. Both tend to lean Democratic. According to a 2016 survey, 88% of Pakistani Americans and 77% of Indian Americans voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton last election. Only 5% of the former and 16% of the latter voted for Mr Trump, the survey found.

This year members of both diaspora are working together to rally support for the candidate of their choice – not just for the presidential election but also for the Senate and Congressional seats that are on the ticket.

Indian American Manu Mathews and his Pakistani American friend, Rao Kamran Ali, have been rallying support for their local Democratic candidate, Candace Valenzuela, to represent their congressional district in Texas.

“We try and avoid conversations we know we are not going to agree on,” Mr Mathew said, referring to tensions between India and Pakistan.

It’s the same on the Republican side. India-born realtor Raj Kathuria and Pakistani American Shahab Qarni are friends who live 20 minutes from each other. They have both been campaigning online for Mr Trump.

For Mr Kathuria, whose parents migrated from a newly-created Pakistan to India during partition, issues or tensions between the two countries are important and personal. But at the same time, he says, it doesn’t affect his life in the US. “What affects us is the local politics,” he added.

It’s unclear which way Pakistani Americans are leaning, but over 70% of Indian Americans plan to vote for Mr Biden in the upcoming election, according to the 2020 Indian American Attitudes survey. This suggests that the community will largely vote Democrat as always.

This is despite the headline-grabbing friendship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Trump. Last year in September, they appeared together in Houston at an event named “Howdy Modi”, where Mr Trump declared: “You have never had a better friend as president than President Donald Trump”.

And in February, Mr Trump visited India, where he addressed a crowd of over 100,000 in Mr Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

But according to the survey, Indian Americans “do not consider US-India relations to be one of the principal determinants of their vote choice in this election”. Instead, like many other Americans, they view the economy and healthcare as the two most important issues.

(Source: By Vineet Khare , BBC News, Washington DC)

China Is Talking Point At High-Level Indo-US Meet

Coming at a sensitive time with the US Presidential election just a week away and while India is still entangled in border tensions with China, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and secretary of defense Mark Esper arrived in New Delhi on Monday for the Indo-US 2+2 talks, expected to focus on the Indo-Pacific security and the threat posed by China.

Pompeo’s pit stops in Asia include Indian-Ocean nations of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and Indonesia, which is in a dispute with China in the South China Sea. Also, next month India hosts the Malabar naval exercise, which would see the forces of all Quad nations — US, India, Japan and Australia — participate for the first time in 13 years.

Security cooperation between India and the US would be on the agenda too. The two countries have made significant progress towards concluding the last foundational defence cooperation agreement, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, the Times of India reports. The agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between the armed forces of the two countries.

The upcoming presidential election in the US is not expected to cast a shadow over the talks since both the Democrats and Republicans emphasise close relations with India. Some even argue Donald Trump’s challenger Joe Biden would be better for India. (Related news: Biden slammed Trump for his “filthy” air comment on India)

Pompeo could assuage India’s concerns over the new sanctions on Iran affecting New Delhi’s interest, specifically the Chabahar port. The Trump administration has informed New Delhi that sale of agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices to Iran, is permitted, the Indian Express reports. Waivers granted for reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, too, remain valid. This holds significance as India sees Chabahar — despite the slow progress — as a reliable gateway to Afghanistan.

Despite a firestorm of positive signals fired off by officials from both sides in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere before this year’s ministerial meeting, such as the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), Chinese observers pointed out that even upgraded military cooperation with the US will not put India on the same level to confront China, nor will it change the fact that Washington and New Delhi always have their own interests at heart. It will not determine how long the India-US honeymoon will last.  

It is significant that during Prime Minister Modi and President Obama’s final meeting in the White House in 2016, the United States elevates India to a major defense partner, a status no other country holds. An expansion of the ten-year defense agreement renewed in 2015, the designation, which became law in August 2018, means that India will enjoy some of the benefits of being a U.S. treaty ally, such as access to defense technology, though the alliance is not a formal one. In a speech before Congress a day later, Modi celebrated his country’s growing diplomatic and economic ties with the United States. Two months later, the United States and India signed an agreement on deeper military cooperation after nearly a decade of negotiations.

In 2018, during a “two-plus-two” dialogue in New Delhi, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sign an agreement with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) gives India access to advanced communication technology used in U.S. defense equipment and allows real-time information sharing between the two countries’ militaries. The agreement had been under negotiation for nearly a decade.

1 week Before Final Voting, Biden Leads Trump By 10%

 Former Vice President Joe Biden has a 10-point lead over President Donald Trump in the contest for the White House in a new national poll of likely voters released today by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.

Including the minor party candidates on the ballot, Biden leads with 53 percent of likely voters, Trump has 43 percent, other candidates are at 2 percent and only 3 percent of likely voters say they are still undecided, according to the independent, nonpartisan poll.

The relatively low number of undecided voters is underscored by the fact that 16 percent of likely voters have already voted. Just over two-thirds of voters said they plan to eschew their traditional Election Day polling place in 2020 and either vote by mail (45 percent) or vote early in person (22 percent).

“Biden’s double-digit lead signals that the president’s hopes of re-election are dwindling, with less than three weeks until Election Day and many voters already voting early and by mail,” said Joshua Dyck, director of the Center for Public Opinion and associate professor of political science.

Biden leads Trump among voters with a college degree, 62 percent to 36 percent. Among those without a bachelor’s degree, Biden leads 49 percent to Trump’s 46 percent. However, among white respondents without a degree, Trump leads Biden 61 percent to 36 percent, while Biden leads Trump among whites with a college degree 60 percent to 38 percent.

The gender gap revealed in this poll is on par with historic averages from the 2012 and 2016 elections in the difference between male and female voters’ support for Democratic candidates. In this poll, Biden does about 10 points better among women than men, leading 57 percent to 38 percent among women who are likely voters and 49 percent to 48 percent among men likely voters.

While Trump trails Biden by double digits nationally, his approval rating has not undergone a precipitous decline, which has hovered between an average of 40 and 45 percent nationally for most of the last three years. Overall, 44 percent of likely voters approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president and 56 percent disapprove. But nearly half of the electorate (47 percent of likely voters) say they strongly disapprove of the way the president has handled his job.

Because there’s no corresponding job approval rating for Biden, the point of comparison for the candidates is favorability rating. In 2016, both candidates – Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – had net negative approval ratings in polling averages heading into the election. In 2020, the pattern is different: Trump continues to have a net negative favorability rating of -13; 42 percent find him favorable, 55 percent unfavorable and 3 percent have no opinion. Biden, however, is net positive +9; 50 percent find him favorable, 41 percent unfavorable and 9 percent have no opinion. Clinton is still net negative at -17 (35 percent favorable, 52 percent unfavorable, 12 percent no opinion), which indicates that Democrats have a much more popular nominee in 2020.

With Trump’s coronavirus-positive diagnosis on Oct. 2, the campaign became fully focused once again on the president’s handling of COVID-19. Overall, a majority of likely voters polled (57 percent) are not satisfied with the way the federal government has handled the pandemic, compared to 43 percent who said they are satisfied. This stands in stark contrast to state governments that get much higher marks: 59 percent of Americans said they are satisfied with their state government’s response compared to 41 percent who said they are unsatisfied.

Asked who they trust more to handle COVID-19, 52 percent of likely voters say Biden compared to 36 percent of likely voters who said Trump. On the question of whether Trump could have avoided contracting COVID-19 by wearing a mask more often, 71 percent of likely voters said yes while 29 percent said no.

“With the total American dead from the virus approaching a quarter-million by Election Day, voters are frustrated by Trump’s response to the virus, both personally and as president. Unfortunately for the president, there’s no miracle cure for his dismal poll numbers on the pandemic,” said John Cluverius, associate director of the Center for Public Opinion and assistant professor of political science.

The poll of likely voters also found:

With Supreme Court hearings taking place this week, nominee Amy Coney Barrett has a -1 net negative favorability rating among likely voters – 31 percent favorable, 32 percent unfavorable, 25 percent no opinion and 12 percent never heard of her.

Asked who they think will win the 2020 presidential election, likely voters gave Biden the edge: 45 percent said Biden will win and 41 percent said Trump will win.

Asked about a hypothetical alternative matchup, Biden leads Pence 54 percent to 41 percent with 4 percent undecided. Harris leads Pence 50 percent to 43 percent with 6 percent undecided.

Just 30 percent of Americans think things are headed in the right direction, while 70 percent say things are on the wrong track.

On Trump’s signature issue, the economy, 47 percent said Biden is better suited to handle the economy, compared to 42 percent who said Trump.

On who best represents American values, Biden leads Trump 48 percent to 37 percent. Biden also leads Trump on who is a more devout Christian, 39 percent to 29 percent. Asked who is more of a good man, 50 percent said Biden compared to 31 percent who said Trump.

More respondents said Biden would be better suited to handle race relations, 49 percent to 34 percent for Trump and more feel Biden is more honest and trustworthy, 49 percent to 32 percent for Trump.

On who will better handle America’s reputation abroad, Biden leads 51 percent to 37 percent for Trump. On who is better suited to handle police reform, 46 percent said Biden and 38 percent said Trump. Fifty-one percent said Biden is more suited to handling health care compared to 35 percent who said Trump.

Trump leads Biden on only two metrics on which respondents were polled: who is more of a bully (67 percent said Trump vs. 16 percent who said Biden) and who is more corrupt (50 percent said Trump compared to 34 percent who said Biden).

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The nonpartisan poll of 819 likely voters was independently funded by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The Center for Public Opinion presents events and polling on political and social issues to provide opportunities for civic engagement, experiential learning and real-world research. The center is a member of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Transparency Initiative.

The survey was designed and analyzed by the Center for Public Opinion and fielded by YouGov from Oct. 5 through Oct. 12. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percent. Detailed poll results – including topline and full methodology – are available at http://www.uml.edu/polls.

UMass Lowell is a national research university offering its more than 18,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.

Republican Senators Confirm Amy Coney Barrett To The Supreme Court

The Republican-led US Senate has voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, just about a week before Election Day and 30 days after she was nominated by President Trump to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Monday, October 26th.

With the confirmation of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, Republicans have solidified the conservative majority on the court as it is set to consider several high-profile cases in the coming months, and forcing Democrats to conseider expanding the number of Justices on the Court to counter the conservative majority.

Barrett was confirmed by a vote of 52-48 on Monday evening, after Democrats exhausted the procedural maneuvers undertaken to delay her confirmation. Only one Republican, Senator Susan Collins, voted against confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court. All the Democrats voted against her, including red state Senators Doug Jones of Alabama, who is up for reelection this year, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

Barrett’s confirmation has left Democrats concerned about the fate of the nation’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act, and Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision allowing women to have access to abortions. The court will be hearing a case on the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate in November. Barrett could also end up weighing in on a general election-related case involving the man who nominated her, should the results of the race between President Trump and Joe Biden come before the Supreme Court.

The only Republicans who voted against the cloture motion on Sunday were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. On Saturday, Murkowski previewed her intentions, saying she planned to vote against moving the nomination forward procedurally but would vote to confirm Barrett on Monday. “While I oppose the process that led us to this point, I do not hold it against her, as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill and humility,” she said. Collins faces a tough reelection battle and said after Ginsburg’s death in September that whoever wins the presidential election should fill the Supreme Court vacancy.

While Senate Democrats tried to slow down the confirmation process of Trump’s third Supreme Court nominee with various procedural maneuvers, the fact that Republicans control the Senate has always meant a Barrett confirmation was all but promised.

“The Senate is doing the right thing. We’re moving this nomination forward, and, colleagues, by tomorrow night we’ll have a new member of the United States Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Sunday.

Democrats railed against the advancement of Barrett’s nomination so close to Election Day, after the Republican-led Senate in 2016 refused to hold hearings for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, nearly eight months before that year’s election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., labeled the nomination process a “cynical power grab.”

“Nearly every Republican in this chamber led by the majority leader four years ago refused to even consider the Supreme Court nomination of a Democratic president on the grounds … that we should wait until after the presidential election because the American people deserved a voice in the selection of their next justice,” he said on Sunday.

“My colleagues, there is no escaping this glaring hypocrisy. As I said before, no tit-for-tat convoluted, distorted version of history will wipe away the stain that will exist forever with this Republican majority and with this Republican leader.”

Barrett’s nomination cleared a procedural hurdle Sunday afternoon when the Senate voted to end debate on the nomination, days after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted a vote to advance Barrett’s nomination.

The 48-year-old judge’s confirmation solidifies the court’s conservative majority, potentially shaping the future of abortion rights and health care law for generations.

During a campaign event in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Vice President Pence said he wanted to return to Capitol Hill in time for Monday’s vote. “As vice president, I’m president of the Senate,” Pence said. “And I’m gonna be in the chair because I wouldn’t miss that vote for the world.”

He ultimately did not attend the vote in person. His presence would have been purely symbolic anyway, as it was not expected that Pence would have needed to cast a tie-breaking vote. Democrats had pushed back against Pence’s plan in light of recent positive coronavirus tests of two top staffers in Pence’s orbit, and they had similar concerns about Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., two of whose staffers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Loeffler’s spokesperson on Saturday said the senator had tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday.

Immediately following her confirmation, the White House held an event to celebrate, this time, with attendees spread out and mostly masked, unlike the event to celebrate Barrett’s nomination. Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath to Barrett, with President Trump standing in between Thomas and Barrett. 

“I am grateful for the confidence you have expressed in me, and I pledge to you and to the American people that I will discharge my duties to the very best of my ability,” Barrett said after she was sworn in.

Focusing Diversity, Biden Campaign Advt in Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi and Gujurati

Joe Biden for President is launching a new digital ad targeting Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in key battleground states highlighting the diversity of the community, and the shared values among AAPI voters.

The new 0:45 spot, titled “The America We Love,” features translations from nine different languages, including Tagalog, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Gujurati, Hmong, and asks voters in-language to vote early.

The spot — produced in-house by a team of creatives, producers and editors, all of whom are AAPI women — includes messages of unity, family, and values that aim to mobilize AAPI communities to vote in the final stretch of the campaign.

Featuring user-generated content from campaign staff, supporters and others, the ad will run on Youtube and Facebook in nine battleground states including Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.“English is not the primary language for many eligible AAPI voters, so we wanted to speak with them respectfully in their mother tongue,” said Yena Oh, Biden for President Senior Video Editor and Korean-American. “We know how important it is to resonate and engage with our own community where they are — across different platforms using multiple languages.”

The new digital ad is part of a larger paid media campaign targeting AAPI communities launched earlier this month, which includes television, digital, radio, and print ads designed to engage persuadable voters, and mobilize members of the AAPI community in support of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The campaign includes targeted ads in local ethnic media, allowing the campaign to reach AAPI voters, especially those who the campaign may not be able to reach through traditional voter outreach efforts.

The AAPI targeted campaign is currently running nationally on radio, digital and print platforms, as well as platforms in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Biden for President paid media program is active in a total of 16 states — including the above states in addition to Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Ohio.

Biden For President is a broad coalition that is diverse and inclusive. The AAPI Coalition is made up of more than fourteen affinity groups, including AAPI Staffers for Biden, AAPI Veterans and Military Families for Biden, Chinese Americans for Biden, Filipino Americans for Biden, Hmong Americans for Biden, Japanese Americans for Biden, Korean Americans for Biden, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders for Biden, Queer AAPIs for Biden, South Asians for Biden, Taiwanese Americans for Biden, Thai Americans for Biden, Vietnamese Americans for Biden, and Young AAPIs for Biden.

IAPC Organizes Live Presidential Debate During 7th International Media Conference

(New York, NY; October 22, 2020) The Indo-American Press Club (IAPC) organized a live Presidential Debate virtually as part of  the 7th annual International Media Conference (IMC-2020) on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Broadcast on several social media platforms, and was attended live by hundreds of IAPC members, supporters, and well-wishers from around the world, the first ever Debate had participation by prominent politicians, academicians, physicians, and community leaders. The panelists from the Republican Party were: Puneet Ahluwalia, Candidate for Lt. Governor, Virginia; Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Republican Delegate to the National Republican Party Convention; and Dr. Anand Tamhankar, a Multi-Disciplinary Expert and a Physician. The Democrats on the Panel were: Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox, Candidate for Connecticut State Assembly; Dr. Hetal Gor, a Women’s Leader and OBGYN, NJ; and Anil Bansal, President of Federation of Indian Associations, NY, NJ, CT. The lively debate was moderated by Dr. Renee Mehrra, TV/News Anchor, TV Asia. The participants eloquently and with anecdotes discussed in detail on the differencing policies and perspectives of the Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden and that of the Republican Party, President Trump on the Covid-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Policy and the Affordable care Act, the US Economy, US relationship with India and the rest of the world, with a particular focus on the  UN and WHO, Immigration System, Work Visas, and the Indian Americans Awaiting for decades for Green Card approval, and the policies and programs by both the parties on Climate Change. Advocating strongly for the Biden –Harris Ticket, Sujata Gadkar-Wilcox argued that, “As a nation, we are more deeply divided in some ways than we have ever been. We are in need of a leader who will bring us together rather than increase polarization. The rising number of former Republican officials and leading Democrats who support Vice President Biden speaks for itself. Joe Biden is the right kind of unifying candidate–a centrist candidate with the experience to do the job, the ability to rebuild our relationships domestically and abroad, and the leadership to help the United States successfully emerge from the global pandemic.” Anil Bansal made a strong pitch for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Stating that Americans face an epic choice of this election, he said, “Our decency and democracy are at stake. When the president starts behaving like a king, fuels racism and division, and destroys science, we must wake up.  Trump has clearly shown in the last four years that he is incompetent and selfish. Mr. Trump lies and cheats and mocks everyone who does not agree with him. Whereas Mr. Biden is a proven leader who is most decent, builds confidence and consensus, and believes in serving the country and its people.” He concluded his argument for the Democratic Party Ticket, Bansal argued that “We owe to our children and future generations to use the power given today and vote for stability, democracy, and bring back the soul of the nation.” In her passionate debate as to why Indian Americans should defeat Trump and support Biden & Harris Ticket in 2020, Dr. Hetal Gor said, “In the past four years, Trump’s policies, actions, and words have all been extremely divisive. He has openly supported White supremacist groups, increased racial divide, and wreaked havoc on the social fabric of the nation. His tax cuts have widened the deficit in turn crowding out productive investment and have increased income inequality within the nation. He is unequivocally against a woman’s right to choice. Internationally, Trump has made even our allies turn their back on us. Trump’s policies have revoked India’s special trade status and levied tariffs on India’s imports. He has restricted Visas to Indian immigrants, falsely claimed that India asked the US to intervene in Kashmir, and mediate dispute with China. He has used Prime Minister Modi for his own personal advantage without doing anything constructive for Indians.” In her argument for supporting Biden, Dr. Gor believes that “the Biden/Harris campaign will work together to restore core American values. They would make sure the US is seen as a country of a respect as they would cut down hate crime, protect houses of worship, restore the American Dream, secure our values as a nation that was built by immigrants by working to eliminate language barriers for all. Furthermore, they have and will continue to honor the contributions of Indians, and will create a safe environment for all children. They will preserve strong alliances with our allies, and strengthen US-India relationship, and supporting India’s membership in a reformed and expanded UN Security Council.” Advocating strongly to re-elect President Trump and the Republican Party candidates around the nation, Puneet Ahluwalia said, “This will ensure that our nation stays the course for unprecedented economic growth. Especially after the pandemic, we need strong committed leadership which fulfills its promises to the American people. Our nation’s economy needs a leader who is pro-business and understands the plight of hard working Americans. Biden will increase taxes and regulations which will further stifle the economy and run businesses and manufacturing out of our country. The Democratic Party leadership is purposely stalling the economy with draconian mandates to harm Republicans this election, which are playing with American lives.” On the international front, Ahluwalia argued that “Only President Trump can take on the threats of China, Iran and Russia along with other external threats around the globe. As proud Americans, we value growth, freedom and opportunity. It is for the very same reason, I have chosen to run for Lt. Governor of Virginia.” According to Dr. Sampat Shivangi, historically US Presidents from the Democratic Party have contributed minimally to the cause of India. “It was Bush who signed the US-India civil nuclear treaty, which stands as a major foreign policy milestone of his presidency.” While Joe Biden has questioned the removal of Article 370 and CAA by Modi Government, President Trump has advanced the friendship between Indian and the US and has opposed the Chinese-Pakistani propaganda in the UN Security Council and proceedings against India on Article 370 and CAA. “It is a known fact that Trump and his Secretary of State went out of the way to support India,” he pointed out. “One has to remember Trump’s statement that India now has its best friend in the White House. It is good to have a friend of India in the White House than its adversary. Now, we the Indian Americans should support a friend of India in the November election as our gratitude towards our motherland.” Dr. Anand Tamhankar argued that “This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make an impact with our votes by helping re-elect President Trump. He has been the most ardent supporter of Modiji’s reforms and the Indian causes, which is in contrast to the open vocal opposition to India and the removal of article 370 and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by Biden-Harris.” According to him, “Trump is the clear choice if you believe in controlled, legal, merit-based immigration versus mass uncontrolled, vote bank politics-based immigration. A border-less America is unsustainable and a big challenge to the safety and security of citizens as can be seen in Europe and countries with extremely liberal immigration policies in the past.  “Trump’s re-election means continued prosperity based on low taxation,responsible and free market capitalism vs Democrat’s socialist policies of unsustainable free handouts,” Dr. Anand Tamhankar argued. “Look beyond the political rhetoric and Covid politics, to his administration’s glowing achievements and results in 4 years despite democrat led distractions of Impeachment, Mueller probe and other impediments. Contrast that with 47+ years of Biden in public office with little to show for it. Trump’ re-election at this critical juncture means rule of law and order versus conditions that we see in many democratic controlled cities. Is that the future we want for our next generation in America?” In her closing remarks, Dr. Renee Mehrra, who is well known to the South Asian American community as one of the most prominent broadcast journalists in the tri-state area, said, “The candidate that is compassionate and can heal America, address inequities in education, health, boost the economy, keep our borders safe and secure, bring stability and trust, and where America is respected by the world.. Let that candidate win and be elected as the 46th President of US.”

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Ajay Ghosh, Founder President and a Member of the IAPC BOD and the organizer of the Debate, said, “Indian Americans have come a long way since they started arriving on the shores of the United States in the 1960s, seeking greener pastures. They excel in almost all areas of our life here and are becoming a politically active community across the United States. As the Presidential Elections 2020 draws near, our community is split between the two major political parties. Today’s debate is to educate our community on where each party stands on the most important issues that affect the nation and the world.” IAPC Chairman Dr. Joseph Chalil, while proposing Vote of Thanks, stressed the importance of the media and congratulated IAPC for its contributions to society.

Indian Americans to the State Houses in the Northeast USA Share Their Personal Stories At GOPIO Interactive Session

Since the initial days immigration from South Asia to the United States in the early 1960s to the present, Indian Americans have steadily grown from a very insignificant minority to the current fast growing and influential community in the United States. They are described as a model minority community for what they have been able to become and achieve in about half a century.

GOPIO chapters in the New York area (Manhattan, New York, Connecticut and Central Jersey) in collaboration with IMPACT Project organized an interactive Zoom session, celebrating Indian American community’s emerging political leaders in the Northeast of the United States on Thursday, October 8th, 2020. 

Moderated by Raj Goyle, Former Member of Kansas State Assembly and Co-Founder, IMPACT (New York, NY), the session showcased several Indian American leaders from the Northeast, with the audience from around the United States, on how they developed interest in public service, their challenges and the sense of pride and achievement in what they have accomplished.  Describing himself as a pioneer in US politics, Goyle said, “When I had joined politics, I did not know much of politics. I was one of the first to be elected to any State Assembly. And I am proud to be part of the new generation of PIOs/NRIs in politics.” said Goyle.

Raj Goyle began his career in politics following his work as a policy analyst and civil rights attorney. Goyle served two terms in the Kansas House of Representatives, making him the first Asian American elected to office in Kansas’ history. He is currently the CEO of Bodhala, a leading legal technology, and resides in New York City with his wife and two daughters.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Gautam Mukunda at The Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, MA, eloquently educated the audience on the history of universal adult franchise in the US, starting with the “fight by the Black Americans for voting rights in the US.” Stating that he had to learn the rising of the Indian Americans through academics, took the audience down the memory lane, when the 1st Indian American, Dalip Singh Saund to be elected to the US Congress in the 1950s. Referring to the pioneers of Color who had fought for equal rights and freedom, he said, “We could not be where we are today, if they did not fight for equal rights for all. There is no better way than running for office,” he said. Pointing to the many Speakers (Indian American Candidates Running for State Elective Offices in the Northeast of the United States), he said, “Everyone of you gives me hope. People in US believe that Indian Americans are capable of becoming leaders in the nation.”

Connecticut State Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan, Candidate for CT House of Representatives in the 2nd District shared with the audience as to how he got interested in entering politics, especially through his “commitment to Environment after Hurricane Katrina devastated the nation.” While he had lost the election the first time by 260 votes, did not deter him from contesting again. And he won convincingly the second time he fought the election. “It was the desire to give back to the society that prompted me to enter politics and serve the people,” he said.

New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, a candidate for NY State Senate District 56, said, he is “proud of the community he has come to represent. My constituents sought change and they got the change by electing me.” Stating that there are many forces from outside of his state are pouring in money to unseat him, he urged the community to support him with fund raising efforts. Stating that during his short term in the NY Senate, he has been successful in bringing in much needed funding to serve the diverse needs with several new programs for his constituents.” He urged everyone to VOTE in the upcoming election and make “our voices heard.”

Ohio State Rep. Niraj Antani, a candidate for Ohio State Senate District 6, said, he is the 2nd Indian American ever elected to a statewide office and he is one of the only Republicans of Indian Origin to be elected. “I work hard to reach across the aisle and cooperate with people in both the Parties to legislate.” Sharing his early days and inspiration to enter politics, he said, “My parents worked hard to live the American dream. There is a need for us to be at the decision-making table. Everyone is able to realize the dream. We stand on your shoulders, to carry on the Indian values.” Niraj Antani is serving his third term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He was the youngest Indian American elected official in the United States. 

Jeremy Cooney from Rochester, New York, a candidate for NY State Senate District 56, said, “I am from India. I was adopted as a young child. My commitment is to give back to the community.” Cooney added, “I had great opportunity to work for elected officials and grateful for the opportunity to serve. We cannot control the politics of DC but can serve the inclusive NY state.”  Born in an Indian orphanage, Jeremy was adopted by a single-mother and grew up in the South Wedge neighborhood of the City of Rochester. After losing his mother to dementia and brain cancer, Jeremy has devoted his career to serving the community that helped raise him from the YMCA to all levels of government. Now Jeremy is running for State Senate to create new and good paying jobs, improve schools and provide access to quality healthcare for all. 

New Hampshire State Rep. Latha Mangipudi, who is a candidate for NH House of Representatives 35th District for a 5th Term, shared with the audience about her own life, challenges in becoming a female, non-White elected official from a state which is majority White. “It was a very slow and gradual journey after I had come to the US to pursue higher studies in the 1980s.” Inspired by Gandhiji’s message of non-violence, which Martin Luther and late Rep. John Lewis had imbibed in their public life, the 1st generation Indian American said,  “I am a woman, Brown colored, 1st generation Indian and very vocal in expressing my views.”

Rupande Mehta from New Jersey, a candidate for NJ State Senate District 25, said, “I have been working in my community for long, which needs a new leader, who can represents our values of my state and my constituents.” Describing his life as “My story is a story of dreams. Coming from Mumbai, seeking freedom, I am running for office, because representation matters.” If elected she will be the first person of South Asian to be elected from his District. “I am ready to take on the most conservative, who has no regard for public safety,” Mehta added.  

NJ State Rep. Raj Mukherji from NJ’s 33rd District said, “My story is simple.” Stating that it is “premature to say we have arrived. Our community’s vote matters. We are proud to be Brown hibernated community.”

Kesha Ram, Burlington, Vermont, a candidate for VT State Senate Chittenden District, shared of the reasons for her entering politics. “I got engaged with the community for long, where we care for each other.” One of the youngest ever to be elected to State Assembly at the age of 21, she said, she had left active politics, and now she is back to run for the Senate seat. “As a daughrer of a Punjabi from India, I remember my Math classes. I try to listen and follow up. Ninety percent of what we communicate is through body language. I strive to make people comfortable,” which helps the Indian American win people’s hearts.

The initiative, The Indian-American Impact Project, has a political action committee appendage — the Indian-American Impact Fund”— and is collectively known as “IMPACT” was founded by Raj Goyle and Deepak Raj, Chairman of Pratham USA and founder of the Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University.

Deepak Raj, on his remarks said, there are as many as 70 Indian Americans are running for office in the upcoming elections around the nation, and the scope has expanded today across the nation. “This is our time,” said Raj. “Across the country, a record number of Indian-Americans are running for office. We can’t leave it to chance that they will win on their own. We owe them our support — and we have a plan to help them run, win, and lead. We are nowhere on the celling yet. We are at an early stage. But I am thrilled to be where we are today. There is lots to be excited about 2020 and beyond.”

GOPIO Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, the coordinator of the event, in his welcome address, underscored the need for Indian Americans to come together and help elect the candidates across the nation, who are standing for election. He assured the support of GOPIO, which has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future.

Shivender Sofat, President of GOPIO Manhattan, concluded the session and proposed vote of thanks wishing all the Indian American candidates success and offered whole hearted support of the Indian American community.  

The full video coverage is provided at the Indus TV Global Facebook Link at https://www.facebook.com/IndusTVglobal/videos/334486537836574/.

Who Will Win An Electoral College Majority In 2020?

A big question heading into this cycle was whether Democrats’ best path to winning back the White House ran through the Sun Belt or the Great Lakes (i.e. Rust Belt). While we won’t know for certain which pathway was best for them until the votes are actually counted, the current data shows a pretty clear divide.  If former Vice President Joe Biden is to win this election, his best chance probably runs through the Great Lakes.

Two new polls out Sunday morning are demonstrative of a larger trend. Biden was up 51% to 46% in a CBS News/YouGov poll in Wisconsin. CBS News/YouGov also found Biden at 50% to President Donald Trump’s 47% in Arizona, a result well within the margin of error. These polls taken in isolation wouldn’t be that noteworthy, but they speak to the larger aggregate.

Hillary Clinton won contests containing 232 electoral votes. Were Biden to hold the Clinton states (and polls indicate that he probably will), he needs to find an extra 38 electoral votes. Those extra 38 electoral votes are likely to come from the six closest states Trump won in 2016: Arizona (11 electoral votes), Florida (29 electoral votes), Michigan (16 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes). You can also add in the one electoral vote from Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, which Trump won by just 2 points in 2016.

The 2016 presidential election was a bracing reminder that the presidency is won or lost in the states and not in the national popular vote. Donald Trump lost nationally by 2.9 million votes (2.1% of the total cast) while winning a comfortable Electoral College majority.

Can he repeat this feat in 2020? Yes. Can he do it if he loses the national popular vote by a larger margin than four years ago? Probably not. To win reelection, President Trump will have to reduce Joe Biden’s national vote advantage, which now stands at more than 10 percentage points, by about 8 points during the final two weeks of the campaign, an accomplishment for which there’s no clear precedent in American history. If he falls just short of replicating his 2016 showing, the country could be plunged into a dangerous political and legal struggle combining the worst features of 2000 and 1876.

Having learned their lesson in 2016, when pollsters for various media companies had pretty good estimates of the eventual national vote but did missed significantly in what turned out to be the crucial states, survey researchers are doing more polls with higher quality in the swing states this year. This enables us to gauge with some confidence the current situation in the 13 states that could conceivably swing into either party’s column, either now or at some point in 2020.

Table 1: Biden lead in swing states

State

Biden lead (deficit) [Percentage points]

Arizona

3.8

Florida

4.1

Georgia

1.2

Iowa

0.2

Michigan

7.5

Minnesota

9.1

Nevada

6.5

New Hampshire

11.5

North Carolina

3.1

Ohio

(0.1)

Pennsylvania

6.9

Texas

(1.4)

Wisconsin

7.7

Source: FiveThirtyEight

 

As of now, Joe Biden leads in 11 of these 13 states. By contrast, Donald Trump won ten of them in 2016 and Hillary Clinton only three (New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Nevada). Of these three states, Biden’s lead in New Hampshire and Minnesota is too large to surmount, barring a political earthquake. Trump has an outside chance to prevail in only one Clinton state—Nevada—and to do so, he would have to improve his current standing substantially.

Looking at the current swing state polling against the backdrop of the national popular vote average enables us to project four possible scenarios.

Scenario 1. Trump cuts Biden’s lead in half

Suppose that the non-stop live-event campaign the Trump team has planned cuts Joe Biden’s lead in half, from 10 points to 5. In this scenario, Trump would win the two states where he currently leads—Ohio and Texas—and would pick up Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and North Carolina. Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Nevada would remain in the Biden column. President Trump would win 258 electoral votes, 12 short of a majority.

Scenario 2. Trump cuts Biden’s lead to 4 points

Suppose President Trump does even better, cutting Biden’s popular vote lead to just 4 points. It turns out that this would have no effect on Electoral College outcome, because Biden would still carry the three midwestern “Blue Wall” states plus Nevada.

Scenario 3. Trump cuts Biden’s lead to 2 points

Suppose President Trump’s campaign is so effective that he cuts Biden’s popular vote margin to just 2 points, replicating the 2016 results. In this event, Trump would carry all the states he won in 2016 plus Nevada—a total of 312 electoral votes.

Scenario 4: The nightmare

Suppose President Trump cuts Biden’s lead to 3 points. Although Nevada probably would fall into his hands, Pennsylvania would be too close to call. In this event, the state that most observers believe has the highest potential for electoral delays and snafus in counting mail-in ballots would determine the outcome of the race. This would all but guarantee a replay of the Florida controversy in 2000 that ended with Bush v. Gore, but with a much higher level of partisan polarization, more intense divisions over the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and heightened threats of civil disorder. While it may not reach the level of rancor following the disputed 1876 election—when the post-Civil War Reconstruction era came to its bitter end—it could make the disputed 2000 election look tame by comparison.

There’s an obvious objection to my analysis: I’ve assumed that shifts in the national popular vote would be evenly distributed across the states. Isn’t it possible that the swing states might diverge significantly from the national average?

While no one can rule this out, there’s important evidence to the contrary. The 4.3 percentage-point reduction in President Trump’s support between 2016 and today has been distributed remarkably evenly among the swing states, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2

State

Trump 2016

Trump 2020

Difference

Arizona

48.7

45.2

3.5

Florida

49.0

45.1

3.9

Georgia

50.8

46.6

4.2

Iowa

51.2

47.5

3.7

Michigan

47.5

42.8

4.7

Minnesota

44.9

41.7

3.2

Nevada

46.0

43.2

2.8

New Hampshire

46.6

42.2

4.4

North Carolina

49.8

45.9

3.9

Ohio

51.7

47.1

4.6

Pennsylvania

48.2

44.0

4.2

Texas

52.2

48.5

3.7

Wisconsin

47.2

43.1

4.1

Sources: State Secretaries of State; FiveThirtyEight

 

The bottom line: with only one outlier (Nevada), the change in President Trump’s support between 2016 and 2020 has been remarkably uniform, both among the swing states and between those states and the rest of the country. Although the electoral college results will be determined by the individual states, the 2020 election is being shaped much more by national factors than by differences among the states. The implication is that President Trump will not be able to overcome Joe Biden’s current Electoral College lead, which is substantial, unless he can reduce Biden’s national popular vote advantage to roughly the 2-point difference of 2016. The worst-case outcome is that Trump gets close to this result without equaling it, leaving the outcome of the election in doubt and throwing the country into chaos under highly adverse circumstance

An examination of the demographic voting patterns in the last few cycles and national polls indicate that Biden’s relative strength in the Great Lakes makes a lot of sense.

Remember that Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin formed part of what was deemed “the blue wall” heading into the 2016 election. All three states had voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

Trump was able to break through that blue wall because of his strength among White voters without a college degree. These voters make up about 50% or more of the voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. They make up a significantly lower percentage in the Sun Belt, which is more racially diverse.

And if you still don’t believe the polls, just look at the results in 2018 and the actions of the Biden campaign. House Democrats did significantly better in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin than in Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. They also won the governorship and Senate races in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in 2018.

There’s a reason why Biden based his campaign in Philadelphia and has been outspending Trump by factors of greater than 2:1 in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

For Trump to win, he’ll probably need to knock down the big blue wall again. If he can’t, Biden’s probably the next president

What Will Sway Indian American Voters: Biden-Harris Ticket? Or, Trump-Modi Ties?

A new poll has revealed that Indian-American voters were unlikely to be swayed by either Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden’s selection of Indian-origin Kamala Harris as his running mate or the relationship between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey (IAAS) has also revealed that significant attention is also being paid to the community because of an emerging narrative that Trump-Modi friendship, “compounded by concerns over how a Biden administration might manage US-India ties, will push Indian-Americans to abandon the Democratic Party in droves”, the American Bazaar reported on Wednesday.

Presently, the Indian-American community makes up for less than 1 per cent of all registered voters in the US. The data further showed that Indian-Americans continue to be strongly attached to the Democratic Party, with little indication of a shift towards the Republican Party.

In addition, Indian-Americans view US-India relations as a low priority issue in this electoral cycle, and focusing more on national issues such as healthcare and economy. According to the poll, 72 per cent of registered Indian-American voters plan to vote for Biden and 22 per cent for Trump in the November 3 election.

The survey has also found that 64 per cent of respondents who identify as Independents (about one-eighth of all Indian-American voters) will back Biden, while 22 per cent intend to vote for Trump. Meanwhile, a smaller percentage of Indian-Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 (68 per cent) plan to support him again in 2020, the American Bazaar reported.

According to the poll, four demographics stand out in the Indian-Americans’ presidential vote choice — first, there was no linear relationship between age and vote choice.

Seventy-five per cent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 intend to vote for Biden.

Second, Indians of all religious faiths prefer Biden to Trump.

Third, support for Biden is greater among US-born citizens (71 per cent) than naturalized citizens (66 per cent), and fourth, the community’s attitude does not exhibit a strong gender gap, in contrast to the US population as a whole.

During the 2016 election campaign around this time, then-candidate Donald Trump addressed a large, glamorous rally of thousands of cheering Hindus, the first time a US presidential candidate reached out to the followers of the faith. But this time there won’t be such an event.

The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), which organized the event on October 15, 2016, in New Jersey, is scaling back its campaign for Trump and will not hold events for him unless he gives an assurance on immigration reform, according to its founder Shalabh Kumar. Kumar told IANS that he and the group’s members would continue to support Trump and urge Hindus to vote for him, but will not hold any campaign events like the one in 2016 which was attended by over 8,000 people.

In the US, electioneering based on religious appeal is legal and common at all levels. “We are asking all our members to support Trump in their individual capacity to vote for Trump and for Republicans in general,” Kumar said.

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has launched an outreach under its own umbrella called the ‘Hindu Voices for Trump’, as part of a multi-pronged drive that also separately targets Sikhs, Muslims and Indian-Americans in general.

For the first time, Democrats have also reached out to members of the religion with a “Hindus for Biden” initiative spearheaded by Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House of Representatives. In the past, the Democrats’ explicit outreach had been to religions like Islam and Judaism and excluded Hinduism.

While Trump speaks of merit-based immigration there are about a million people caught up in the Green Card backlog and “they are in great pain”, he said. The RHC wants a commitment from Trump that he would introduce a system of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that would allow people waiting for five or more years for their Green Cards to indefinitely work and live in the US till their numbers come up for it, he said.

According to Republican Senator Mike Lee’s estimate, the backlog is so bad that for some Indians the wait could take 195 years for a Green Card, which gives permanent immigrant status and puts the recipients in the pipeline to full citizenship. The EAD would be a bridge to Green Card pending immigration reforms to clear the backlog, Kumar said.

A new poll has revealed that Indian-Americans overwhelmingly support the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for the November 3 election with “great enthusiasm”, generated by having Kamala Harris as the Vice Presidential candidate.

The poll released on Thursday reported that 72 per cent of registered Indian-American voters said that they planned to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket and only 22 per cent for President Donald Trump. The poll showed a slight erosion of five per cent in support to Biden among Indian-Americans compared to the 77 per cent Hillary Clinton had received from them in 2016, according to the 2016 Post-Election National Asian American Survey, while Trump seemed to have improved his support level by six per cent compared to the 16 per cent in the last election.

But despite the small numbers, the community’s support is avidly sought by both parties. “Even though Indian Americans comprise slightly more than one per cent of the total US population e and less than one per cent of all registered voters e both major parties are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to this community (perhaps mindful of the closeness of the 2016 elections),” according to the Carnegies analysis of the IAAS poll.

Joe Biden’s Lead Over Trump Is The Highest Since 1936

Former Vice President Joe Biden is dominating President Donald Trump in the latest polls. No, the election is not over yet, and Trump still has a non-negligible chance of winning. But a look through history reveals that Biden is in a better position at this point than any challenger since 1936, when the first scientific polls were taken in a presidential race.

In the 21 previous presidential elections since 1936, there have only been five challengers who led at this time. Of those five, only one (Bill Clinton in 1992) was ahead by more than 5 points. None of those five were earning more than 48% of the vote in the polls.  In other words, Biden is the first challenger to be above 50% at this late juncture in the campaign.

This also continues to mark a massive difference with the 2016 campaign. While Hillary Clinton was ahead of Trump by as high as 7 points in October 2016, she never came anywhere close to approaching 50% of the vote. Trump merely had to win the lionshare of the undecided or third party voters (who would bolt their candidate) to earn a victory in 2016.

The 2020 presidential campaign has been repeatedly rocked by seismic events – from the outbreak of a devastating pandemic to President Donald Trump contracting COVID-19. Yet in at least two important respects, not much has changed: Joe Biden continues to hold sizable advantages over Trump on most major issues and key personal traits, as well as in overall voter preferences. And voters continue to be highly focused on the election and attach great importance to its outcome.

With less than a month to go before the election, a majority of registered voters (57%) say they are very or somewhat confident in Biden to handle the public health impact of the coronavirus, while 40% express a similar level of confidence in Trump. In June, Biden held a narrower, 11 percentage point lead on handling the coronavirus outbreak (52% Biden, 41% Trump).

At a time of deep political divisions and partisan antipathy, voters are far more likely to express confidence in Biden than Trump to unify the country. Half of voters (50%) say they are confident in Biden to “bring the country closer together,” compared with just 30% who express confidence in Trump.

The new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 5 among 11,929 U.S. adults, including 10,543 registered voters, finds that Biden maintains an overall lead in voter preferences: 52% of registered voters say if the election were held today, they would vote for Biden or lean toward voting for him, while 42% support or lean toward voting for Trump. Another 4% of voters back Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, while 1% support Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins in the 2020 election. (See detailed tables for full demographic breaks on voter preferences.)

The survey was in the field when Trump announced on Twitter, early on the morning of Oct. 2, that he and first lady Melania Trump had contracted COVID-19. There are no significant differences in voter preferences, or in confidence in the two candidates to handle the impact of the coronavirus, before and after his announcement.

Trump’s handling of the nation’s economy remains a relative strong point. About half of voters (52%) express confidence in Trump to make good decisions about economic policy, one the highest shares expressing confidence in the president on any of the six issues on the survey. However, about as many voters (51%) have confidence in Biden on the economy.

Since summer, there has been some improvement in views of the nation’s economy. Among all voters, 35% say economic conditions are excellent or good, up from 28% in June. However, this change has come almost entirely among Trump supporters. And the gap in economic perceptions, already wide, has grown much wider. Two-thirds (67%) of Trump supporters now say that economic conditions are excellent or good, compared with 51% who said this in June. Just 11% of Biden supporters view economic conditions positively, which is little changed from four months ago (9%).

The survey finds that voters view Biden much more positively than Trump for compassion, honesty and being a good role model. Nearly twice as many voters say “compassionate” describes Biden very or fairly well than say it applies to Trump (67% vs. 34%). More than half of voters (53%) say Biden is honest, compared with 35% who describe Trump as honest. And far more voters say Biden is a good role model (54% vs. 28%).

The ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday was the latest poll to indicate Biden’s strength. Biden led Trump by a 55% to 43% margin among likely voters. The poll was the third high quality national poll published this week that had Biden up by at least 10 points and above 50%. The other two being from CNN/SSRS and Fox News.

Indeed, the average of polls has Biden at around 52% or 53% and up by somewhere between 10 and 11 points. This is an unprecedented position for a challenger with a mere 23 days to go until Election Day. Even if every undecided or current third party voter went to Trump now, he’d still be down about 5 to 6 points nationally. That’s never been the case with an incumbent since 1936 at this point.

Of course, it’s the Electoral College that matters. There are very few universes in which Trump could win the Electoral College, if he were to lose nationally by 5 to 6 points.  New polls out on Sunday from CBS News/YouGov demonstrate that Biden’s above 50% in some key battlegrounds. He leads 52% to 46% in Michigan and Nevada. In Iowa, a state that Trump took by 9 points in 2016 and is not anywhere close to must win for Biden, the race is tied at 49%.

A look under the hood reveals why Biden is in such a strong position. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Covid-19 has either been, or been within the margin of error of being the nation’s most important problem in Gallup polling.

The three challengers in the polling era (Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Bill Clinton in 1992) who defeated incumbents have all been trusted more than the incumbent to deal with what Americans thought was the nation’s most important problem. None, however, were trusted by more than 50% of the voters.

Today, Biden has a huge advantage over Trump when it comes to the pandemic. The clear majority (59%) of likely voters in the last CNN poll said Biden would better be able to handle the outbreak. Just 38% said Trump would do a better job than Biden.

Why Is Supreme Court Nomination of Amy Coney Barrett Very Controversial?

The death of a sitting justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrust the court into the center of a bruising political campaign for the White House. Republican President Donald Trump has nominated federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by Ginsburg, even as Trump’s opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, calls for confirmation proceedings to be postponed until after voters have cast their ballots for president. Republicans control the U.S. Senate and have vowed to move forward with Barrett’s confirmation over the objections of Biden and other Democrats.

The battle to get Donald Trump’s nominee to the US Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed by the Senate began on Monday with Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings. The shifting ideological balance of the court will have an impact in all areas of American life and across the US – perhaps in no place more than Texas.

A 6-3 conservative majority in the court could directly attack Democratic Party priorities like government-managed healthcare and access to abortion services. While the political battle over Trump’s appointment of Barrett is taking place between the White House and Democratic senators in the US Capitol, some of the biggest legal fights that have made it to the Supreme Court in recent years have come out of Texas.

For instance, the current challenge to the Affordable Care Act – Barack Obama’s signature law when in office, aiming to expand access to healthcare – was brought by the state of Texas. It will come before the Supreme Court just days after the election, possibly with Barrett on the bench.

A major 2016 court decision on regulating abortion clinics also originated in the state, as did recent disputes over federal voting rights laws, the consideration of race in university admissions, the constitutionality of Obama-era immigration reforms. Texas was also a key player in several challenges to capital punishment, anti-sodomy laws and, going back to 1973, the landmark Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion across the US.

Part of this, explains University of Texas law professor HW Perry, is a result of Texas being a large state, both in population and size, with interests touching on most aspects of American life. More recently, however, Texas’s prominence in high-profile court battles is the result of a concerted effort by the state’s top Republican politicians to become a major player in the conservative legal world.

“Texas has become quite a leader in pushing cases to the Supreme Court to get accepted for review, and then often they are the ones who wind up arguing it,” Perry says. “It’s developed this highly professionalised office which is also the one leading many of the other conservative states in getting cases before the Supreme Court.”

From 2013 to 2020, the state’s then-solicitor general, Scott Keller, argued 11 cases before the Supreme Court. The next closest state lawyer had four. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, when he served as the state’s attorney general, would frequently say of his job: “I go to the office, I sue the federal government, and then I go home.”

The state, which made a habit of pushing the boundaries of conservative law and causes, didn’t always win those high-profile cases. On anti-sodomy law, voting rights, the death penalty and, most recently, abortion, it was often on the short end of the judicial stick, many times by narrow, 5-to-4 decisions. With Ginsburg gone and Barrett poised to take a seat on the court, however, conservatives in Texas are optimistic that the legal tide may be turning.

“It’s a historic opportunity,” says Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based political consultant and chair of the Travis County Republican Party. “Conservatives in Texas and across the country are really, really satisfied with the past two Supreme Court nominations the president made and are encouraged and, I think, really hopeful about the next one, as well.”

Anti-abortion groups like Texas Right to Life celebrated Barrett’s announcement, noting that she would replace Ginsburg, who was a consistent vote for abortion rights. Replacing her, they said “could yield new hope for the protection of preborn children”.

Another abortion-related case, challenging a Texas law that bans a common second-term “dilation and extraction” abortion procedure and requires burial or cremation for embryonic or foetal tissue, is currently in being considered by a federal appellate court.

The Right to Life group expressed optimism that Barrett will join Trump’s other appointments, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, in upholding the Texas law and setting the stage for more stringent regulation of abortions in other states. “Texas is a pro-life state, and certainly among conservatives we’d like to see Roe vs Wade overturned,” says Mackowiak. “Of course, that doesn’t make abortion illegal, it makes it a state issue again.”

As much as conservatives in Texas are relishing the ways the Republican leadership in their state can benefit from a rightward move in the Supreme Court’s ideology, those on the left who have fought them in the courts are hunkering down for what they see as long, frustrating and frequently futile battles.

“It’s horribly depressing,” says Susan Hays, an Austin-based lawyer who has spent decades litigating abortion rights cases. “Texas has been the source of a disproportionate number of reproductive rights cases, voting rights case, other sorts of civil rights cases that the Supreme Court has had to decide in order to protect basic human rights in the state.”

The conservative refrain to these kind of complaints is that elections have consequences. Donald Trump won in 2016, and Republicans took control of the US Senate, which confirms judicial nominees, in 2015. Texas itself hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

There are signs of life for Texas liberals, however. Polls show Joe Biden and Trump in a close fight for the state’s presidential electoral votes. Cornyn is in a closer-than-expected re-election race, and the Democrats may even be the favourites at this point to take back the state legislature, which it last controlled in 2002.

According to law professor Perry, if Texas does go blue, the Democrats could inherit a legal apparatus they can use for their own causes. “Hope may spring eternal that because of the changing demographics and other things, Texas is moving towards purple and there will be a future where the institution that is built for Texas for the conservative point of view may someday become one that is a powerful place for liberals to be,” he says. “I don’t think it’s quite there yet, however.”

The average tenure of a Supreme Court justice is nearly 17 years, according to a February 2017 Pew Research Center analysis of biographical data for 104 former high court justices. (The analysis excluded the members of the court who were serving at the time.) Not surprisingly, younger appointees tend to stay on the court longer. Those who were younger than 45 when they were sworn in served for an average of 21.6 years. That’s about two years longer than those who were ages 45 to 49 when they took the oath of office; three years longer than those who were 50 to 54; seven years longer than those who were 55 to 59; and nearly a decade longer than those who were ages 60 and older. Barrett, Trump’s pending nominee for the high court, is 48. If confirmed, she would be the youngest member of the court.

At Least 8 Million Americans Have Already Voted, Could Smash Records For Voter Turnout

Americans are rushing to cast ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 election at an unprecedented pace, early voting numbers show, indicating a possible record turnout for the showdown between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

With three weeks to go before Election Day, more than 8 million Americans already have voted, according to the United States Elections Project, which compiles early voting data. The shift has been driven by an expansion of early and mail-in voting in many states as a safe way to cast a ballot during the coronavirus pandemic and an eagerness to weigh in on the political future of Trump, said Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, who administers the project.

“We’ve never seen this many people voting so far ahead of an election,” said project lead Michael McDonald of the University of Florida to Reuters.

McDonald predicts a record turnout of about 150 million voters this year, which would amount to 65% of eligible voters—the highest potential turnout in more than a century. According to states that are reporting such data, U.S. voters have requested a total of 72,524,278 mail ballots already.

“People cast their ballots when they make up their minds, and we know that many people made up their minds long ago and already have a judgment about Trump,” McDonald said, describing early voting totals in some battleground states as “just nuts.” He added: “Every piece of data suggests very high turnout for this election. I think that’s just a given.

Biden leads Trump in national opinion polls, although surveys in crucial battleground states indicate a tighter race. The numbers reported so far come from 31 states, McDonald said, and will grow rapidly as more states begin early in-person voting and report absentee mail-in totals in the next few weeks. All but about a half-dozen states allow some level of early in-person voting.

The percentage of voters who cast their ballot at a voting machine on Election Day already had been in steady decline before this year, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency. The total number of early or mail-in votes more than doubled from nearly 25 million in 2004 to 57 million in 2016, it said, representing an increase from one in five of all ballots cast to two in five of all ballots cast.

Trump has railed against mail-in voting, making unfounded accusations that it leads to fraud. Experts have said such fraud is rare. Those attacks by the president have shown signs of depressing Republican interest in voting by mail. Democrats have more than doubled the number of returned mail-in ballots by Republicans in seven states that report voter registration data by party, according to the Elections Project.

In the crucial battleground state of Florida, Democrats have requested more than 2.4 million mail-in ballots and returned 282,000, while Republicans have asked for nearly 1.7 million and returned more than 145,000.

A national Reuters/Ipsos poll taken last week found 5% of Democrats nationwide said they had already voted compared to 2% of Republicans. About 58% of Democrats planned to vote early compared to 40% of Republicans.  McDonald said early voting typically starts strong, then drops before surging just ahead of the election. But in some states, rates of participation already have skyrocketed a month out.

In South Dakota, early voting this year already represents nearly 23% of the total turnout in 2016. It is nearly 17% of total 2016 turnout in Virginia and nearly 15% of total 2016 turnout in the battleground state of Wisconsin.

“That’s just nuts,” McDonald said. “Every piece of data suggests very high turnout for this election. I think that’s just a given.”

New England Journal of Medicine Says No To Reelecting Trump

Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate. Until now.

In an editorial signed by 34 editors who are United States citizens (one editor is not) and published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that they “have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The editor in chief, Dr. Eric Rubin, said the scathing editorial was one of only four in the journal’s history that were signed by all of the editors. The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential publication, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden, the former vice president.

The political leadership has failed Americans in many ways that contrast vividly with responses from leaders in other countries, the N.E.J.M. said.

In the United States, the journal said, there was too little testing for the virus, especially early on. There was too little protective equipment, and a lack of national leadership on important measures like mask wearing, social distancing, quarantine and isolation.

There were attempts to politicize and undermine the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the journal noted.

As a result, the United States has had tens of thousands of “excess” deaths — those caused both directly and indirectly by the pandemic — as well as immense economic pain and an increase in social inequality as the virus hit disadvantaged communities hardest.

The editorial castigated the Trump administration’s rejection of science, writing, “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.”

President Trump mocked Mr. Biden’s mask wearing during the presidential debate on Sept. 29.Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

The uncharacteristically pungent editorial called for change: “When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

Scientific American, too, had never before endorsed a political candidate. “The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic,” the journal’s editors said.

The N.E.J.M., like all medical journals these days, is deluged with papers on the coronavirus and the illness it causes, Covid-19. Editors have struggled to reconcile efforts to insist on quality with a constant barrage of misinformation and misleading statements from the administration, said Dr. Clifford Rosen, associate editor of the journal and an endocrinologist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. “Our mission is to promote the best science and also to educate,” Dr. Rosen said. “We were seeing anti-science and poor leadership.”

Mounting public health failures and misinformation had eventually taken a toll, said Dr. Rubin, the editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“It should be clear that we are not a political organization,” he said. “But pretty much every week in our editorial meeting there would be some new outrage.”

India Donates 1.8 Million N95 Masks to Philadelphia for Frontline Workers

India has donated 1.8 million N95 masks to Philadelphia, the largest city in the US state of Pennsylvania, to help in its fight against COVID-19, setting another example of a robust Indo-US partnership in the health sector.

The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has received a donation of 1.8 million N95 masks from India to help in its fight against COVID-19, according to a PTI report, adding it is another example of a robust Indo-U.S. partnership in the health sector. The donation came after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made a request to India for supply of masks to be used by the city’s frontline healthcare workers.

The move comes after the Mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, made a request to India for supply of masks to be used by the city’s frontline workers.  “Philadelphia receives 1.8 million N95 masks from India to aid their fight against COVID-19,” India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu tweeted Oct. 9. “Another example of the robust India-US reliable partnership in the health sector!” he added.

Philadelphia is the sixth-most populous US city. The move is also an indication of India’s capabilities in manufacturing Personal protective equipment (PPE) not only for domestic use, but also exports, officials said.  India had also supplied hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug which is seen as a possible cure for COVID-19, to the US at the request of President Donald Trump.

During GOPIO-CT Event, Rep. Jim Himes Says, “Joe Biden Administration Will Continue To Offer Mediation Between India And China”

Describing the current situation on Indo-China border as very serious, US Congressman Jim Himes, a Democrat from the state of Connecticut, said, if elected to power the Joe Biden Administration will continue to offer mediation between India and China. Rep. Himes was addressing an interactive session via Zoom, organized by the GOPIO-CT Chapter on Thursday, October 8th, 2020. He called for serious and significant dialogue between two Asian giants, Rep. Himes referred to the efforts by the Trump administration to mediate between India and China, and he hoped that both the nations “accept the offer to mediate by the US Administration.”  Every year, GOPIO-CT has had an interactive session with Rep. Jim Himes. This year, because of the Pandemic, it had to be done on a Zoom session. The program started with a welcome by GOPIO-CT President Ashok Nichani who said that Rep. Himes is a great supporter of GOPIO and the Indian community.

In his opening remarks, GOPIO International Chairman Dr. Thomas Abraham, sought clarification from the Democratic Party Congressman on “US-India Relations in a Democrat Administration especially policy on India-China Border Clashes.”

 Calling on both the counties to be “careful with each other” in their approach and not to escalate the situation between the Two Nuclear Nations, referring to the US efforts to engage both the nations, Rep. Himes said, “This is an important opportunity for both the nations to address” and resolve the border tensions. Referring to Joe Biden as someone, whose strength is in Foreign Policy, the Congressman said, “The Joe Biden Administration will continue to offer mediation” between India and China. 

Dr. Thomas Abraham initiated the discussion by raising the “H1 and H4 visa issues and what you expect in Biden Administration, if he wins the election, especially for the need to clear the backlogs of pending Immigration numbers for our community.” Responding to these concerns that were shared in a series of questions by GOPIO leaders on the Immigration issues, Dr. Abraham described the immigration policy of the Trump administration and the current situation as “messy”, Rep. Himes referred to the numerous Presidential orders being challenged in Courts. He hoped that there will be a change, which will be a reversal in status and get back to a comprehensive immigration reform. Referring to the Trump policy on denying work visas to spouses of H1B visa holders, Rep. Himes asked, “What good is it that if the spouses of the H1B visa holders cannot work under H4 visas?’

On the Green Card back log, Rep. Himes said, attracting skilled laborers is “central to our economy.” On a question, regarding the discussions about the Country-based quota not being used and unused visas could be used to allow Green Cards to other qualified individuals who are caught in the backlog for Green Card approval, Rep. Himes was unsure if the Biden Administration will embrace the policy.

 Rep. Himes called for new dialogue between the two major parties to create a comprehensive new immigration policy that addresses the needs of the nation and millions who are awaiting a solution to the challenges. Rep. Himes wanted the nation to reflect and clarify the values behind creating a comprehensive immigration policy. While criticizing the Trump regime’s policy of favoring the people of higher income groups while offering visas, Rep. Himes said, “The  Biden Administration will be more open to immigration” which is more compassionate and understanding of the needs of the nation and those of the immigrants.

 On another question regarding voter suppression, Rep. Himes said, “If you want to vote in the state of Connecticut, there is no requirement for Voter ID.” He urged all sections of the society to work to ensuring “peaceful elections.”  Pointing to a state law, that does not allow political activity within 75 feet of any polling place, he said, “Any propaganda will be a violation and will be prosecuted.” Describing the residents of CT as law abiding citizens, Rep. Himes said, “I do not anticipate any significant problems in CT. However, the situation is different in other states like Wisconsin.”

Rep. Himes serves on the US Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, a forum in which Members of Congress can address the issues central to our relationship with this important South Asian nation. By promoting dialogue on issues of interest to the Indian-American community, the Caucus strives to strengthen bilateral relations between the United States and India, promote trade with India, enhance economic development in India and the United States, increase anti-terrorism cooperation.

On the ongoing Covid-19 emergency, Rep. Himes said, “the impact of Covid has been contained in my constituency by good behavior of all of my constituents. The numbers in the state of CT are good, because we did not get into politics. Hope the situation continues to improve.” Referring to the Congressional Bill passed that had offered substantial relief for small businesses, Congressman Himes pointed to the challenges in passing a new Covid Bill that the Congress Bill offers $2.2 Trillion, Rep. Himes criticized the Republican-led Senate and President Trump. “Once again, President Trump has called off negotiations, which is not good for the President and for the nation.

Rep. Himes also sought suggestions from GOPIO-CT participants on Kashmir issue. On that, Dr. Abraham categorically said that people in India whole heartedly supported the steps taken by Modi administration to make Kashmir people full participants like other citizens of India and complimented Prime Minister Modi for the new initiatives in education and development of Kashmir.

GOPIO-CT Trustee Joseph Simon concluded the meeting by thanking the organizers and Congressman Jim Himes for being gracious with his time and addressing the many issues of interest to the Indian community so directly and openly.

Over the last 14 years, GOPIO-CT, a chapter of GOPIO International has become an active and dynamic organization hosting interactive sessions with policy makers and academicians, community events, youth mentoring and networking workshops, and working with other area organizations to help create a better future. GOPIO-CT – Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – serves as a non-partisan, secular, civic and community service organization – promoting awareness of Indian culture, customs and contributions of PIOs through community programs, forums, events and youth activities. It seeks to strengthen partnerships and create an ongoing dialogue with local communities. 

US Election 2020 Polls: Who Is Ahead – Trump Or Biden?

In less than 4 weeks, voters in America will decide whether Donald Trump remains in the White House for another four years. The Republican president is being challenged by Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden, who is best known as Barack Obama’s vice-president but has been in US politics since the 1970s.

As election day approaches, polling companies will be trying to gauge the mood of the nation by asking voters which candidate they prefer.  We’ll be keeping track of those polls here and trying to work out what they can and can’t tell us about who will win the election.

Biden leading national presidential polls

National polls are a good guide as to how popular a candidate is across the country as a whole, but they’re not necessarily a good way to predict the result of the election.

In 2016, for example, Hillary Clinton led in the polls and won nearly three million more votes than Donald Trump, but she still lost – that’s because the US uses an electoral college system, so winning the most votes doesn’t always win you the election.

With that caveat aside, Joe Biden has been ahead of Donald Trump in most national polls since the start of the year. He has hovered around 50% in recent months and has had a 10-point lead on occasions.

By contrast, in 2016 the polls were far less clear and just a couple of percentage points separated Mr Trump and his then-rival Hillary Clinton at several points as election day neared.

Which states will decide this election?

As Mrs Clinton discovered in 2016, the number of votes you win is less important than where you win them.

Most states nearly always vote the same way, meaning that in reality there are just a handful of states where both candidates stand a chance of winning. These are the places where the election will be won and lost and are known as battleground states.

The electoral college system the US uses to elect its president, each state is given a number of votes based on how many members it sends to Congress – House and Senate. A total of 538 electoral college votes are up for grabs, so a candidate needs to hit 270 to win.

As the map above shows, some battleground states have a lot more electoral college votes on offer than others so candidates often spend a lot more time campaigning in them.

Who’s leading in the battleground states?

At the moment, polls in the battleground states look good for Joe Biden, but there’s a long way to go and things can change very quickly, especially when Donald Trump’s involved.

The polls suggest Mr Biden is ahead in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – three industrial states his Republican rival won by margins of less than 1% to clinch victory in 2016.

But it’s the battleground states where Mr Trump won big in 2016 that his campaign team will be most worried about. His winning margin in Iowa, Ohio and Texas was between 8-10% back then but it’s looking much closer in all three at the moment.

That’s one of the reasons why some political analysts rate his chances of re-election as low as things stand. FiveThirtyEight, a political analysis website, says Mr Biden is “favoured” to win the election, while The Economist says he is “very likely” to beat Mr Trump.

Do polls show who won the first debate?

Many pundits called the debate for Mr Biden and the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher agreed, describing it as “the political equivalent of a food fight” with the former vice-president emerging as the man “least covered in slop”.

But what do the polls tell us? Well the ones we have all put the Democrat ahead, but by varying margins.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll conducted after the debate found Mr Biden on 53% and his rival on 39% – a gap six points wider than in their previous poll two weeks earlier.

But more worrying for the president are two battleground state polls conducted by the New York Times and Siena College that found Mr Biden ahead by seven points in Pennsylvania and five points in Florida.

Overall, it doesn’t appear that the president’s debate performance helped him close the gap on his rival.

Has coronavirus affected Trump’s numbers?

The coronavirus pandemic has dominated headlines in the US since the start of the year and the response to President Trump’s actions has been split predictably along party lines.

Support for his approach peaked in mid-March after he declared a national emergency and made $50 billion available to states to stop the spread of the virus. But it dropped after that point, even among Republicans.

The virus is likely to be at the forefront of voters’ minds and one leading model produced by experts at the University of Washington predicts the death toll will have risen to about 240,000 people by election day.

Mr Trump may be hoping Operation Warp Speed, his administration’s vaccine initiative, can produce an “October surprise” – a last-minute event that turns the election upside down.

The chief scientific adviser to the initiative has said it’s “extremely unlikely but not impossible” that a vaccine could be ready to distribute before 3 November.

Can we trust the polls?

It’s easy to dismiss the polls by saying they got it wrong in 2016 and President Trump frequently does exactly that. But it’s not entirely true.

Most national polls did have Hillary Clinton ahead by a few percentage points, but that doesn’t mean they were wrong, since she won three million more votes than her rival.

Pollsters did have some problems in 2016 – notably a failure to properly represent voters without a college degree – meaning Mr Trump’s advantage in some key battleground states wasn’t spotted until late in the race, if at all. Most polling companies have corrected this now.

But this year there’s even more uncertainty than normal due to the coronavirus pandemic and the effect it’s having on both the economy and how people will vote in November, so all polls should be read with some scepticism, especially this far out from election day.

What questions do you have about the US election?

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Puneet Ahluwalia In Virginia State Lieutenant Governor’s Race “I Wasn’t Born An American, My Wife And I Are Americans By Choice”

Indian American Puneet Ahluwalia is the type of candidate the multi-cultural state, Virginia needs to be part of the leadership on the Beltway State, Virginia. “I wasn’t born an American, my wife and I are Americans by choice,” says, Ahluwalia, who is part of the crowded 11-way race to become Virginia’s next lieutenant governor in 2021.

With five Democrats and four Republicans launching campaigns for their party’s nomination and several more potential candidates exploring bids, the race has become highly competitive.

Ahluwalia, a McLean businessman who emigrated from India, said he is running as a jobs creator who’d push to extend Northern Virginia’s economic success to the state’s struggling rural and urban areas, such as parts of Richmond and Hampton Roads. Ahluwalia, 53, said he’s opposed to some of the pandemic restrictions Northam imposed on businesses.

A Sikh whose wife is Muslim, Ahluwalia said he strongly supports gun rights, citing a 1984 massacre in Delhi when Sikhs were singled out and killed in revenge for the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two Sikh bodyguards. “Armed minorities are harder to repress,” he said.

Virginia’s part-time lieutenant governorship comes with just two duties: presiding over the state Senate and taking over for the governor if he can no longer carry out his duties. But the post is considered a steppingstone to higher office, particularly governor. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former governor, all occupied the lieutenant governor’s seat before advancing in their political careers.

Several of the new Democratic candidates said they want to bring new focus to the lieutenant governor’s job, arguing that there should be more advocacy for core Democratic goals, including workers’ rights, racial equity and environmental justice from the office that is second in line to lead the state should the governor suddenly leave office or become unable to serve.

The Republican candidates said they want to reimpose pragmatic governance in the Democratic-controlled state, arguing that Virginia has veered too far to the left on policies related to law enforcement and the economy.

In his message to the electorate, the Indian American candidate, Ahluwalia says, “We want all Americans-including our own children and your’s – to enjoy the freedom and opportunity that have so blessed Nadia and me. We have operated and managed small businesses for many years. We have succeeded, we’ve failed, and we’ve succeeded again. We have also seen our businesses destroyed by rioters and looters.”

On the current political turmoil facing the nation, Ahluwalia says, “When the law breaks down though, the people hurt most are people of color. Where’s Ralph Northam? Where’s Justin Fairfax? All they do is blame Trump, then fade into the background. That’s not leadership. It’s finger-pointing. No more excuses.”

Taking a dig at the current leadership in his home-state, the India-born candidate, says, he runs to bring about a positive change in values: “The policies of progressive Democrats have trapped too many Virginians in poverty, a failed education system, and hopelessness. Virginia can enjoy a brilliant future, but it means holding the line on taxes, reducing unfair regulations, and standing up to those who attack our free enterprise system. Progressives think we Virginians work for them. It’s not true. And it’s time we take back our state and the values we share: hard work, personal responsibility, and love for neighbor. That’s why I’m running for Lieutenant Governor. I hope you’ll join me.”

AAPI Urges US Senate To Pass South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2020

(Washington, DC: October5th, 2020) “We want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciatio9n to US Congress for unanimously passing the legislation, South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2020 on September 29th, 2020,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) said here today. “We urge the US Senate to take up the Bill without further delay, helping South Asians living in the United States to become aware of the risks they face daily due cardiac issues.”

Initiated by Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, H.R.3131 – South Asian Heart Health Awareness and Research Act of 2020 was voted overwhelmingly by the full House of Representatives. The Act stipulates raising awareness on the alarming rate of heart disease in South Asian communities in the United States while investing in strategies to reverse the deadly trend. The Bill was received in the US Senate on September 30th and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.  

“As the first South Asian-American woman ever elected to the House of Representatives, I am fully committed to not only raising awareness and educating the South Asian community about the risk factors for heart disease but also ensuring that those living with heart disease receive the care, treatment, resources and support they need,” Congresswoman Jayapal, who represents Washington’s 7th Congressional district.  “I am proud that this urgently necessary legislation passed (the) committee today and I won’t stop fighting until it becomes law,” she added.

The legislation directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to create grants, such as South Asian Heart Health Promotion Grants at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide funding for community groups involved in South Asian heart health promotion and to develop culturally appropriate materials to promote heart health in the South Asian community.

The Bill also asks the HHS Secretary to fund grants through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research on cardiovascular disease and other heart ailments among communities disproportionately affected by heart disease, such as South Asian populations living in the United States, and develop a clearinghouse and web portal of information on heart health research, such as South Asian heart health.

Dr. Brahma Sharma, a prominent cardiologist affiliated with VA University of Pittsburgh, and serving as the Chair of AAPI-AHA Liaison committee on South Asian Heart Disease, said, “This is a historic day for south Asian community and we all appreciate the bipartisan efforts by Rep. Pramila Jaypal and Rep Joe Wilson (R- SC). It is gratifying to see this hidden threat for South Asians community finally being recognized. We have to continue this advocacy, so it passes through US Senate as well and provides the necessary support for education, research for early detection , prevention and even reversal of this epidemic of cardio-metabolic disease among South Asians who are at the highest risk.”

Indeed, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the U.S. spends over $500 billion on cardiovascular disease each year. Studies have shown that immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal are experiencing a dramatic rise in heart disease. South Asians make up 25 per cent of the world”s population but they contribute 50 per cent to global cardiovascular deaths.

Prevalence of Diabetes for the South Asian subgroup in the United States has been found to be an alarming 23.3%, an important research relevant to South Asian cardiometabolic disease, by Cheng YJ, Kanaya AM et al entitled, “Prevalence of Diabetes by Race and Ethnicity in the United States, 2011-2016,” published in JAMA in December, 2019 stated. These valuable data demonstrate the incredibly high, vastly under-appreciated burden of diabetes among South Asians. Particularly distressing is how many South Asians have diabetes without even knowing it. This phenomenon is surely fueling the cardiovascular epidemic among South Asians.

Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “The vital findings of the JAMA paper and the need for creating awareness about the prevalence of Diabetes, the symptoms, efforts to prevent and effective treatment are very critical today. The passing of the crucial Bill by the US Congress recognizes the need for additional resources to be made available for creating awareness, offering preventive measures and treatment to our community, and continuing with the research on this vital healthcare area.” 

 

 

 

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda offered total commitment to these efforts. “I am very impressed with the energy and strength of the leaders who have taken upon themselves this noble task on creating awareness and educating the physicians and the public on this very serious disease among South Asians in the US. We have the talents, skills, strength and the commitment. Let’s put them to work and help our brethren.” For more information on AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

 

 

 

AAPI Sends Well-Wishes to the President and First Lady

Washington, DC — October 4th, 2020: “The members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) join the nation in praying for the speedy recovery of President Donald J. Trump and the First Lady, Melania Trump, who have been diagnosed with the deadly pandemic Covod-19, and are being treated for the symptoms,” said Dr. Sudhakar Jonalagadda, President of AAPI here today. Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda issued the following statement after he conveyed well-wishes to the President of the United States and the First Lady on behalf of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI). “The presidency is not about a person, it is about the office and what it represents not just to the American people, but to people around the world.  COVID-19 is a serious illness and we are hopeful that the President and First Lady make a full and speedy recovery.  Many AAPI members have witnessed firsthand the devastating impact that the coronavirus has had on families across America.  We have been on the frontlines in the war against this pandemic, and we will not stop fighting.  As physicians, we have joined forces with researchers, scientists, and academics, to develop appropriate therapeutics and we hope, effective vaccines, to stop the spread of this disease, not just in the United States, but in India and around the world. It is our sincerest wish that during these trying and very difficult times, that the American people will set aside their differences and work together so we can defeat COVID-19,” added Dr. Jonnalagadda. Indian-Americans constitute less than one percent of the country’s population, but they account for nine percent of the American doctors and physicians. One out of every seven doctors serving in the US is of Indian heritage, providing medical care to over 40 million of US population.

Dr. Sajani Shah, Chairwoman of AAPI’s Board of Trustees pointed to the fact that “The deadly Corona Covid-19 virus has claimed nearly 180.000 deaths around the world with the US leading the chart with nearly 45,000 deaths. The pandemic has placed the entire healthcare sector, and in particular the Indian American medical fraternity at the frontlines of the fight against the pandemic.” There are about 80,000 practicing Indian American physicians who are at the forefront of fighting COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Dr. Jonnalagadda said,  “APPI, the largest ethnic medical organization in the country has taken several proactive steps in educating their members and the general public about the disease, the preventive steps that needs to be taken at this time and most importantly, they are using all their contacts and resources at the hospital administrative and government level to facilitate treatment protocols to be in place at the various hospitals around the country.” For more information about AAPI, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Biden Adds Pressure on Trump By Releasing Tax Returns

Democratic nominee Joe Biden released his most recent tax returns just hours before Tuesday night’s debate with Donald Trump, signaling he wants new revelations about the president’s taxes at center stage for their first face-to-face encounter.

The difference between the two candidates’ tax history is fodder for Biden’s argument that Trump has conned working-class voters into supporting him. The debate begins at 9 p.m. New York time.

Biden’s taxes showed that he and his wife Jill paid more than $346,000 in federal taxes and other payments for 2019 on an income of nearly $985,000 before seeking a refund of nearly $47,000 they said they had overpaid the government.

“This is a historic level of transparency meant to give the American people faith once again that their leaders will look out for them and not their own bottom lines,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said on a call with reporters. “Mr. President, release your tax returns or shut up,” Bedingfield added.

Billionaire Trump, meanwhile, paid $750 in 2016 and 2017, and nothing in ten of the last 15 years, according to the New York Times.

With more than a million Americans already casting early ballots and time running out to change minds or influence the small sliver of undecided voters, the stakes are enormous as the two White House candidates take the stage five weeks before the Nov. 3 election.

The 90-minute debate, with a limited and socially distanced in-person audience because of the coronavirus pandemic, will begin at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT on Wednesday) at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, with Chris Wallace of Fox News serving as the moderator. It is the first of three scheduled debates.

The Biden tax returns gambit ahead of the debate shows that the former vice president is seeking political advantage on an issue that could resonate with voters – a wealthy real estate developer-turned-politician who has, according to the New York Times report, often avoided paying federal income taxes.

Democrats have sought to portray Trump as a tax dodger. Trump’s persistent refusal to release his taxes has been a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh issued a statement responding to Biden’s disclosure, accusing him of being dishonest in public statements about his own past earnings, but did not address whether Trump would release his returns.

The Times also reported that Trump was currently embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses. If the IRS rules against him, he could have to pay over $100 million, according to the newspaper.

BIDEN INCOME

Biden’s 2019 return showed most of his income came from a company he has said handles payments from his speaking and writing engagements and from a University of Pennsylvania teaching post from which he took an unpaid leave of absence after launching his candidacy.

The 2019 tax returns for Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, also were released. Harris and her husband, lawyer Doug Emhoff, reported paying about $1.2 million in total federal taxes on $3.3 million of income for the year, according to the tax returns released on Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence released a decade of returns before the 2016 election but no tax information since then.

The combustible Trump and more low-key Biden will debate an array of urgent political challenges, including a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States and thrown millions out of work, a brewing battle over Trump’s nomination of conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, and continued protests for racial justice.

Biden, 77, has held a consistent lead over Trump, 74, in national opinion polls, although surveys in the battleground states that will decide the election show a closer contest.

The debate will be divided into six segments: the records of Trump and Biden, the Supreme Court, the pandemic, the economy, election integrity and “race and violence” in U.S. cities. A senior Trump campaign official told reporters aboard Air Force One that the president “knows exactly what he wants to communicate” and hopes to get into his differences with Biden on trade, “endless wars,” the issue of America’s “haves and the have nots” and Biden’s long career in elected office.

Biden is certain to press his criticism of Trump’s response to the pandemic, and highlight Trump’s efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, the law known as Obamacare that has helped millions of Americans obtain health insurance.

While Trump Refuses TO Commit TO Peaceful Transfer, Mcconnell Promises An ‘Orderly’ Transition Of Power

President Trump cast doubt on the transition last week, questioning the probity of the vote with so many ballots likely to be cast by mail. But Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said there would be a peaceful handover in January as there had been every four years since 1792. Democratic senators label Trump a grave threat to American democracy. The president currently trails his challenger, Democrat Joe Biden, in national opinion polls with 40 days to go until the election.  Many more Americans than usual will be casting their votes by post this year, due to the pandemic, and Trump has been questioning the security of this mail-in ballot system. If Trump were to refuse to accept the result of the election, it would take the country into uncharted territory. Biden has suggested that should this happen, the military could remove Trump from the White House. However, Trump’s spokeswoman said the president would abide by the results of a free and fair election. 

What have Republicans said?

“The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th,” Mr McConnell tweeted on Thursday. “There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.” Other Republican lawmakers, including vocal Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, have similarly promised a safe and fair election. “I can assure you it will be peaceful,” Mr Graham told Fox News, but suggested a decision could go to the nation’s top court. “If Republicans lose we will accept the result. If the Supreme Court rules in favour of Joe Biden, I will accept that result.” Senator Mitt Romney offered a more critical response on Wednesday, saying “any suggestion that a president might not respect this Constitutional guarantee is both unthinkable and unacceptable”.

What did Trump say?

On Thursday, Mr Trump again cast doubt on the integrity of the election, saying he was not sure it could be “honest” because, he claimed, postal ballots are “a whole big scam”. The president sparked the controversy on Wednesday evening when he was asked by a reporter if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power “win, lose or draw” to Mr Biden. “I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots,” Mr Trump said. “And the ballots are a disaster.” When the journalist countered that “people are rioting”, Mr Trump interjected: “Get rid of the ballots, and you’ll have a very – you’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly, there’ll be a continuation.” Back in 2016, Trump also refused to commit to accepting the election results in his contest against the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, which she characterised as an attack on democracy. He took the White House after winning the all-important electoral college count, although he lost the popular vote by three million ballots, an outcome he still questions. 

What have Democrats said?

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the third most powerful politician in Washington, told reporters on Thursday that she was not surprised at Mr Trump’s earlier remarks. Mrs Pelosi added that the president “admires people who are perpetuating their role in government”, citing Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “But I remind him: you are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr President… so why don’t you just try for a moment to honour your oath of office.” Speaking to reporters in Delaware, Mr Biden said Mr Trump’s comments on the transition of power were “irrational”. The Democrat’s team also said “the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House”. A Biden spokesman told Politico the former vice-president “obviously, has participated in a peaceful transition of power before” and will do so after the 2020 election as well. Biden has himself been accused by conservatives of stoking unrest over the election by saying in August: “Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is re-elected?” Last month, Mrs Clinton urged Mr Biden to not concede defeat early on election night. “I think this is going to drag out, and eventually I do believe he will win if we don’t give an inch.” She raised the scenario that Republicans would try “messing up absentee balloting” and mobilise an army of lawyers to contest the result. Doubts about the fairness of November’s vote come as another high-stakes political battle is fought – on whether or not to appoint a new Supreme Court justice before the election

Mcconnell’s Fabricated History To Justify A 2020 Supreme Court Vote

Senate Republicans’ decision to vote on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor reflects individual and collective cost-benefit calculations of seating a rock-ribbed conservative in what may be the Trump administration’s waning days. As a fig leaf to obscure the hypocrisy of voting on President Trump’s election-year nominee after refusing to vote on President Obama’s in early 2016, Republicans have claimed an historical norm that doesn’t exist.

The GOP Senate’s initial claim

In March 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to justify denying a vote on Obama’s nomination of DC Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia: “All we are doing is following the long-standing tradition of not fulfilling a nomination in the middle of a presidential year.”

There is no such tradition. The table shows the nine Supreme Court vacancies in place during election years in the Court’s post-Civil War era—once Congress stabilized the Court’s membership at nine and the justices largely stopped serving as trial judges in the old circuit courts. Those nine election-year vacancies (out of over 70 in the period) were all filled in the election year—one by a 1956 uncontested recess appointment and eight by Senate confirmation.

Last year, given the lack of any “long-standing tradition” but anticipating the possibility of an election-year vacancy, McConnell fabricated a different history to justify treating a Trump nominee differently from Obama’s. He argued that “[y]ou have to go back to … 1880s to find the last time … a Senate of a different party from the president filled a Supreme Court vacancy created in the middle of a presidential election. That was entirely the precedent.” When that anticipation became reality with the death of Justice Ginsburg, he offered a slightly different excuse: “Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year”. A National Review article claimed a norm: “when their party controls the Senate, presidents get to fill Supreme Court vacancies . . . [but] when the opposite party controls the Senate, the Senate gets to block Supreme Court nominees . . .”.

Other Republican senators have fallen in line. Mitt Romney (Utah) cited the party-control distinction in claiming that he “came down on the side of the Constitution and precedent as I’ve studied it.”

Pre-2016 modern-era confirmations offer a different story: First, it’s not as if there were a string of election-year vacancies, some during unified government, which got filled, and others during divided government, which didn’t. Rather all five election-year vacancies from the 1890s until the 1950s were during unified government, offering no test of whether divided government would have confirmed them. However, the three voice votes suggest the minority party, had it been in power, would have confirmed.

Second, even excluding as McConnell does the 1880s’ two divided-government confirmations, the two more recent divided-government vacancies got filled:

  • in 1988, the Democratic-majority Senate voted 97-0 to confirm Justice Kennedy (after the 1987 rejection of the controversial Bork nomination), and
  • Eisenhower made an uncontested October 1956 recess appointment of Justice Brennan. Had the Senate been in session, it would have confirmed a Brennan nomination—as it did early in 1957.

Bottom line: there was no historical justification for denying Garland a vote; thus, voting for Trump’s late-2020 nominee is hypocritical.

But there is more to this fig-leaf history than its lack of a factual basis. First, it provides no reason why a vote is permissible only if the same party controls both the White House and the (constitutionally malapportioned) Senate. McConnell’s September 18 statement said “Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump,” including on judicial appointments. Even so, 2018’s two-seat gain reflects no national consensus that a president elected with large popular vote deficit should be able to reshape the Court in the waning days of his reelection bid.

Second, historical precedents—even accurate ones—are of questionable value given that today’s Supreme Court confirmations happen in a different world than before. Let’s look at the period from 1901 to the end of the Johnson administration (1969) for some context. During that time, there were 10 median days to confirmation, with 62% by voice vote; since then, 65 median days and no voice votes.

Third, this cynical power play will weaken the Court’s legitimacy. I noted here the arguments from many sources that presidential elections put a necessary but indirect popular imprint on the judiciary, assuming that those choosing the judges reflect in some sense popular majorities. With the late 2020 confirmation, the Court will have a six-member conservative majority, five of whose members were appointed by presidents who gained office after initially losing the popular vote.

Finally, the appointment will strengthen what was until recently a fringe restructuring movement. If Democrats control the White House and Congress, there will be great pressure to restructure the Court by adding seats to counterbalance those occupied by Trump appointees. Some say, were roles reversed, Democrats would do what McConnell and company are doing. Maybe so, but that’s not the situation facing the country now. (Source: Russell Wheeler at the Brookings Institute)

AAPI Plans Mini Convention in Chicago From September 26th – 27th

 “It’s very great joy that I want to invite you all to come and be part of the MINI Convention and the Fall Governing Body Meeting of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) to be held from September 26th to 27th, 2020 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel, Chicago, IL,” Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President, AAPI, announced here today.

With Corona Virus impacting every aspect of life around the world, posing several challenges in carrying out with numerous plans and programs for AAPI in 2020, Dr. Suresh Reddy, the 36th President of AAPI, has been right on task and has devoted the past one year leading AAPI to stability and greater heights. The deadly pandemic, COVID-19 that has been instrumental in the lockdown of almost all major programs and activities around the world, could not lockdown the creative minds of AAPI leaders.

“Basically organized as the “Volunteers Recognition Ceremony” to honor all those hundreds of volunteers of AAPI. Who have worked hard during the year 2019-20, especially during the COVID Pandemic. All the volunteers have raised the bar of AAPI and we salute their generosity and admire their sacrifices,” Dr. Suresh Reddy said. A special feature of the Convention will be honoring the hundreds of Volunteers who have dedicated their time, energy and efforts in the past one year for the success the many initiatives under the leadership of the outgoing President of AAPI.

“Taking the lockdown and the social distancing as a challenge, the organizing committee of the AAPI Mini Convention has come up with the plan to have a unique Convention with Physical Distancing; Universal Masking; Bonfire; Total Outdoor Setting and Fireworks,” said Dr. Sajani Shah, Chairwoman of AAPI. “Strict Covid precautions as per CDC, state and federal regulations will be observed throughout the convention, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every participating delegate,” she assured all the participants.  

Chief Guests at the Mini Convention include, Consulate General of India in Chicago, Hon Amit Kumar and Dr. Srinath Reddy, President of Public Health Foundation of India. Under the leadership of Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, Chair of AAPI Webinar CME Committee, during the CMEs, eminent and world renowned experts in their respective areas of expertise will share their knowledge and wisdom, enlightening the delegates with new advances in their field of practice.

Physician Wellness: Stress and Burnout will be the topic addressed by Dr. Lucky Jain, Professor and Chair at Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics& Chief Academic Officer, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; and, Dr. Rohit Kumar Vasa, an Attending Neonatologist at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago, Chair of Pediatrics and Neonatology Site Leader, Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago.

CME on “A Global Health Topic: Learnings for India’s Health System” will feature Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India and will be moderated by Dr. Navin C. Nanda, Distinguished Professor of Medicine & Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL; and, Dr. T.S. Ravi Kumar, President, AIIMS, Mangalagiri, AP, India and a Member of WHO Global Patient Safety Experts Curriculum Committee.

The session on Surgical Management of Intracerebral Hemorrhage will be led by Dr. Joseph C. Serrone, Assistant Professor, Neurosurgery and Radiology at Loyola University Medical Center & Neurosurgeon, Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Illinois; and, Dr. Suresh Reddy, Associate Professor of Radiology at Loyola University Medical Center & Chief of Radiology, Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Administration Hospital in Maywood, Illinois.

“The American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Mini Convention offers an exciting venue to interact with leading physicians, health professionals, academicians, and scientists of Indian origin,” Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, President-Elect of AAPI, said. “The physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year,” she added.

“The Mini Convention is forum to network, share knowledge and thoughts, and thus, enrich one another, and rededicate for the health and wellbeing of all the peoples of the world,” Dr. Ravi Kolli, Vice President of AAPI, said, “The Convention also features and will honor the “Best Mask; Best Obesity; and, Best Monument Picture,” he added. 

A dedicated pool of Physicians led by Dr. Meher Medavaram, Convention, Cahir, has been working hard to make the convention a memorable experience for all.

Dr. Amit Chakrabarty, Secretary of AAPI said. “The Mehfil/AAPI Talent Show will provide a perfect setting for the AAPI delegates to display their talents. The extravaganza mouthwatering ethnic cuisine with every day “Theme Menus” with variety of display of best of the culinary art will be a treat for the young and the old.”

“The convention offers a variety of ways to reach physicians and their families. It provides access to hundreds of health professionals who are leaders and decision-makers regarding new products and services, as wells as to national and international health policy advisors,” Dr. Satish Kathula, Treasurer of AAPI, says.

Given that a physician of Indian origin sees every 7th patient in this country and every 5th patient in rural and inner cities across the nation, the reach and influence of AAPI members goes well beyond the Convention.

Physicians of Indian Origin in the United States are reputed to be leading health care providers, holding crucial positions in various hospitals and health care facilities around the nation and the world. Known to be a leading ethnic medical organization that represents nearly 100,000 physicians and fellows of Indian Origin in the US, and being their voice and providing a forum to its members to collectively work together to meet their diverse needs, AAPI members are proud to contribute to the wellbeing of their motherland India, and their adopted land, the United States.

Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 38 years, AAPI Convention has provided a venue for medical education programs and symposia with world renowned physicians on the cutting edge of medicine.

“Physicians and healthcare professionals from across the country and internationally will convene and participate in the scholarly exchange of medical advances, to develop health policy agendas, and to encourage legislative priorities in the coming year. We look forward to meeting with you all in Chicago!” said Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda.  For more details, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit:  www.aapiconvention.org   and www.aapiusa.org

Joe Biden Leads Trump In Several Key Swing States

In a new batch of swing-state polling released this weekend by the New York Times and CBS News, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to lead President Donald Trump in several key states with just 51 days to go until the November election.

Specifically, a New York Times/Siena College poll taken from September 8 to 11 shows Biden retaining his lead with likely voters in four important states: Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Likewise, a CBS News/YouGov survey conducted from September 9 to 11 gives the former vice president the edge among likely voters in both Minnesota and Arizona.

In 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won Minnesota, Nevada, and New Hampshire; Trump won Arizona and Wisconsin.

This time around, the GOP has indicated they’re playing to win in Minnesota. “In 2016 I almost won Minnesota,” Trump tweeted last year. “In 2020, because of America hating anti-Semite Rep. Omar, & the fact that Minnesota is having its best economic year ever, I will win the State!” His campaign has followed that bluster with a $14 million advertising push in the state, larger than their buys in the swig states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

However, the New York Times and CBS polls would appear to throw some cold water on Trump’s Minnesota ambitions: While Clinton eked out a narrow win by less than 2 percent in 2016, both the New York Times and CBS show Biden leading Trump by 9 percentage points.

The same polls suggest that Trump is in danger of ceding Arizona and Wisconsin to Biden in November. CBS reports that Biden narrowly leads Trump by 3 percentage points in Arizona, and according to the New York Times poll, Biden is up by 5 percentage points in Wisconsin.

In Nevada, where Trump held a rally on Saturday, Biden also has a small lead of 4 percentage points — but Chuck Rocha, a former adviser to the Bernie Sanders campaign, says that Democrats need to take the state more seriously, or that might change:

“What’s underreported right [now] is the problem in Nevada,” Rocha said. “The entire Culinary Union is laid off. The entire [Las Vegas] strip is shut down, for the most part. So there’s astronomical unemployment there.”

Rocha said Democrats have not been sensitive enough to the economic hardship that has affected the area — and that has impacted Latinx voters particularly hard. To win the state, he said, Biden will have to present a clear plan of how his policy vision will help those who need work, and income, right now.

According to NBC News, the Trump campaign does not see Nevada as a sure thing for Biden, either. In fact, Trump campaign officials view Nevada as part of an “alternate route” to winning 270 electoral votes, should the president lose some of the states that handed him victory in 2016.

New Hampshire, a 2016 squeaker that went for Clinton by just three-tenths of a percent, is also part of that “alternative route” strategy. The New York Times/Siena College poll shows Biden with a 3 percentage point lead, but Trump made a point of holding rallies in the state, which has a Republican governor, shortly after wrapping up the Republican National Convention last month.

Overall, these polls contain good news for Biden — but many if his leads, like those in New Hampshire and Arizona, are narrow ones, suggesting there is still room for the president to swing opinion his way.

A mostly stable race

Looking beyond the particulars of any one poll, polling for the 2020 presidential race has been largely stable. Nationally, Biden leads Trump by an average of about 7.3 percentage points, and he has retained a consistent lead in key swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. These latest results fall in line with these standing trends.

And Biden’s national average also squares with a recent Fox News poll of likely voters, which shows Biden with a slightly smaller lead versus Trump — just 5 percentage points — but a solid advantage on most issues, including racial inequality, the pandemic, health care, the courts, immigration, and policing. Only on the economy did likely voters have more faith in Trump, by a margin of 5 percentage points.

One possible reason for the consistency seen in polling is that surveys have suggested there are fewer undecided voters than there were in 2016. According to CNN, just 13 percent of registered voters either haven’t decided or are still open to changing their minds, and a Quinnipiac University poll from earlier this month found that only 3 percent of likely voters were still undecided.

That’s likely not good news for Trump, who did well with late-breaking undecided voters in 2016 but has far more ground to make up this time around with a smaller pool of undecideds. As CNN’s John Harwood points out, Biden is also quite a bit more popular than Clinton was in 2016, while the majority of Americans still dislike Trump.

Of course, polling isn’t prophecy. As my colleague Li Zhou has explained previously, polls only really “capture public sentiment during a moment in time,” and things could still change, especially with three presidential debates yet to come. And given one needs only to win the electoral college rather than the popular vote, a candidate winning over even a portion of a group that may have traditionally voted for his rival could have an outsized effect on results.

If Biden wins by more than 5 points nationally, he’s almost certainly going to win enough electoral votes to get to at least 270 and take the Electoral College. There’s simply little record of a difference between the margin in the key swing states and the national vote being greater than 5 points.

If Biden wins by somewhere between 3 and 5 points nationally, he’ll be the clear favorite in the Electoral College, even if there is some non-negligible chance Trump could emerge victorious.  Biden’s national advantage right now is clearly outside this 5-point window.  In this particular moment in time though, Biden looks to be in a strong spot ahead of the November election.

Over 3/4th of Indian-Americans Support Joe Biden Over President Trump

President Donald Trump has gained some ground in the Indian-American community, but still an overwhelming majority of Indian-Americans would vote for Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket in the US presidential elections, which is scheduled on Nov. 3, 2020.

A national online survey of Indian-Americans, conducted by the IndUS Business Journal and its sister publication, INDIA New England News, showed that if the elections were held today, 76.31 percent Indian-Americans will vote for Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden for president and his running mate Kamala Harris for vice president; and 20.83 percent will vote for Republican Party candidate President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Libertarian Party Candidate Jo Jorgensen received support of only 0.56 percent Indian-Americans, and 2.22 percent did not choose any candidate. The online poll was conducted during Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2020 after the national conventions of both Democratic and Republican parties.

“Despite President Trump’s failure to design a successful strategy to deal with COVID-19 pandemic and growing civil rights and racial tensions, he has gained some ground among Indian-American voters as compared with four years ago,” said Upendra Mishra, Publisher of IndUS Business Journal, INDIA New England News and the Boston Real Estate Times.

In 2016 elections, only 14.89 percent Indian-Americans had said they would vote for Trump in a similar poll. At that time, 79.43 percent Indian-Americans had expressed support for the then Democratic Party Candidate Hillary Clinton.

The survey also revealed that 49.01 percent Indian-Americans are registered as an Independent while 42.72 percent as a Democrat and 3.64 percent as a Republican. Four years ago, 46.43 percent Indian-Americans were registered as independent, 38.57 percent as a Democrat and five percent as a Republican.

“The close relationship between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Trump has electrified some Hindu-leaning Indian-Americans to support President Trump, but an overwhelming majority of secular Indian-Americans support Democratic Biden-Harris ticket,” added Mr. Mishra.

Mr. Mishra added that the minority group of Indian-Americans that support Trump believe that Trump is a better friend of India and that they support Trump because he is good for India. For the vast majority Indian-Americans who support Biden, the main reason is that Biden is good for the United States; India is also a priority for them, but the main focus is on the issues at home in the United States.

Here are some comments from the survey participants:

“President Trump is bad for the idea of Democracy across the world. He has systematically destroyed the stature of the American President.”

“We have to get rid of all the Republican scums and the vile president ASAP.”

“Democrats do not have a strong candidate as good and caliber as Donald Trump. Though President Trump has few weaknesses, he has been targeted from Day 1 of his presidency to destroy his plans by biased media, democrats, investigation after investigation proving nothing of any serious issues with Trump, though President Trump carried out whatever he promised and fulfilled in action most of his election promises. He is really for people’ welfare though as any politicians, he may have some self promotion & self interest agendas, but not to the level his opposition has been blaming. I think, as he promises for next 4 years, he will bring all manufacturing back into the US from China and will soon find a vaccine for the COVID-19. His presidency for next 4 years will be good for the economy than Biden who has no real plan for the economy. I do not like to pay higher tax under Biden’s presidency as he said he will raise tax.”

“As Indian Americans we should not be voting for Donald Trump, point blank period. Just because Donald Trump is friendly with Modi (another fascist and supremacist) does not mean he stands for the interests of Indians in America. As it is, his policies don’t even help most Indians in India, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

Trump or Biden? U.S. At Crossroads

The existential choice facing America was laid bare during the recent Party Conventions, as Donald Trump and Joe Biden set out radically contrasting visions for a nation impacted by the pandemic, economic meltdown, unemployment, and racial injustice. Biden, the former vice-president and the Democratic nominee for president in November, delivered a somber speech, suggesting the US is at one of the most important crossroads in its history, calling Americans to choose light over darkness. For once, President Trump spoke the truth during the recent Republican National Convention. He roared that this election is the most important one deciding which direction the country will take. According to the Washington Post as of July 9, he has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office – a tsunami of untruths. “We can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,” he said, adding that Trump “is part of the problem, and accelerates it,” Joe Biden said. He compared the president to notoriously racist officials from the 1960s, adding: “I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate. I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain.” A vote for Joe Biden is a vote to preserve democracy and the noble principles the U.S. stands for. Reflecting this, a group representing almost 100 former Republican lawmakers and officials have endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in an effort to defeat President Donald Trump in the November 3 election. The group, called Republicans & Independents for Biden, led by former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, stated that its “sole mission is to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden the next President of the US”. “More than 180,000 Americans are dead from a pandemic that, with consistent leadership, could have been contained. Instead, it has been left to spin out of control by a President who ignored it, refused to lead and endangered American lives,” Whitman said in a statement. “In this moment of great national crisis, we need to elect a leader matched to the moment, someone who can restore competence to the Oval Office and unify the country. “Joe Biden is that leader,” Whitman added. The group also includes former Republican Governors Rick Snyder and Bill Weld, a onetime 2020 presidential candidate. As nearly 55 days left for the Polls for this historic election, several polls reveal that former Vice President Joe Biden maintains his grip on the 2020 race for president. Biden’s up 52% to 42% over President Donald Trump among likely voters nationally, and he has a 50% to 44% edge over Trump in the key battleground state of Wisconsin as well. Biden’s 10 point and 6 point advantages are the exact same they were when CBS News/YouGov polled the contests before the party conventions. The polls are reflective of a race that barely budges even after two conventions, protests and unrest in some cities over police brutality and as the nation navigates the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, the stability of this race is record breaking when looking at polling dating back to 1940. A Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday found the two candidates virtually tied in Pennsylvania, one of Trump’s key pickups over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. Most polls suggest Biden is ahead in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – three industrial states his Republican rival won by margins of less than 1% to clinch victory in 2016. But it’s the battleground states where Trump won big in 2016 that his campaign team will be most worried about. His winning margin in Iowa, Ohio and Texas was between 8-10% back then but it’s looking much closer in all three at the moment. Betting markets, however, are certainly not writing Trump off just yet. The latest odds give him just less than a 50% chance of winning on 3 November, which suggests some people expect the outlook to change a lot over the next few weeks. But political analysts are less convinced about his chances of re-election. FiveThirtyEight, a political analysis website, says Biden is “favored” to win the election, while The Economist says Biden is “likely” to beat Trump.

Republican Hindu Coalition Says It Will Back Off Supporting Trump’s Re-Election Bid Unless Founder’s Demands Are Met

The powerful Republican Hindu Coalition, which in 2016 stepped in heavily to engage candidate Donald Trump with the Indian American community, is backing off of the president’s campaign until its demands are met.

In 2016, Chicago-area businessman Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar founded the RHC after he and his wife each donated $449,400 to Trump’s campaign, the maximum allowable amount. The RHC was co-founded by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Kumars served as “bundlers” for Trump’s first run for the White House.

The RHC held a mega-rally for Trump in October 2016 in Edison, New Jersey, attended by about 8,000 Indian Americans. Trump pledged to the crowd that India would always have a friend in the White House if he was elected.

Later that month, the RHC released an ad to curry the favor of the Indian American community. The slogan, “Ab ki Baar Trump Sarkar” — this time, it is Trump’s turn — went viral. Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeated the phrase at the “Howdy Modi” event last October in Houston, Texas, informally endorsing the president.

But in an interview Aug. 31, Kumar told the media the RHC would greatly reduce its level of support for Trump’s re-election bid unless his six demands were met. Trump’s re-election campaign did not respond to an on the record request for comment from India-West, but said in an email on background: “The Republican Hindu Coalition is organized as a 501(c)(4) and cannot legally coordinate any efforts with the Trump Campaign.”

Kumar said he is a huge supporter of a proposal called DALCA — Deferred Action for Legal Childhood Arrivals — H4 children who are aging out of their status and face having to return to the home country, despite having spent most of their lives in the U.S. DALCA children are the dependents of H-1B visa holders, the majority of whom are Indian Americans.

The businessman has said he wants the president to take a firm stand to support DALCA, and a related issue, the green card backlog, which has left more than half a million Indian Americans with approved green card applications waiting in a queue of 53 years or more. Horror stories have emerged of people dying while waiting in the green card queue.

Kumar told India-West he also wants the president to take a stand approving India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, a controversial measure passed last year that grants citizenship to undocumented Indians but excludes Muslims. The businessman noted that the president had backed off from taking a stand on India’s revocation of Article 370, which provided special autonomous status to the Kashmir region. Indian American Republicans interviewed for an earlier story chastised Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris for voicing opposition to the revocation of Article 370.Kumar said he also wanted the president to voice a new campaign slogan in Hindi. If his demands are met, Kumar said the RHC would put their efforts into the critical battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. He noted that Biden is popular in Michigan, which Trump narrowly won in 2016.

“Indian Americans could be the margin of victory in battleground states,” said Kumar, noting that a large number of Indian Americans are Independents, who could be swept up by either party.Kayo Anderson, executive director of the Republican Hindu Coalition, told India-West: “To engage the community as we did in 2016 we need certain elements on the table. We are critical to turning out the Indian American vote for Trump.”

Kumar attended the Republican National Convention Aug. 27 as Trump spoke from the South Lawn of the White House and formally accepted his party’s renomination. In the speech, which exceeded 70 minutes and went off prepared remarks at several junctures, Trump tacitly referred to revamping the H-1B program, recalling the Tennessee Valley Authority, which had laid off several full-time employees, who were forced to train their H-1B replacements. The president said in his speech that he got the American workers’ jobs back: he has since banned federal agencies from employing H-1B workers.

The businessman told India-West he was critical of the arrangements for the president’s speech: almost no one in attendance wore masks as protection against COVID-19. Seating, with chairs stacked against each other, did not allow for social distancing.

“Why can’t Trump mandate mask wearing? COVID would be over in three months,” speculated Kumar, comparing it to the mandatory wearing of seat belts. 

Donald Trump Accepts Republican Party Nomination During RNC

Donald Trump on Thursday, August 27th night accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination for the November election from the White House Lawnin which he sought to defend his record on the pandemic while tearing down Democrat Joe Biden – sometimes inaccurately – as a “weak” instrument of his party’s left-wing. He blasted Democratic rival Joe Biden as a hapless career politician who will destroy “American greatness,” h said and added, “Joe Biden is not a savior of America’s soul,” Trump asserted during roughly 70 minutes of remarks. “He is the destroyer of America’s jobs.” In a speech delivered from a huge stage on the White House front lawn he said he did so with a “heart full of gratitude and boundless optimism,” and described the upcoming election as “the most important in the history of our country.” In direct contrast to what Biden had characterized Trump to be during the Democratic Convention a week earlier, the incumbent who is seeking a second term said, “We understand that America is not a land that’s cloaked in darkness. America is the torch that lights the entire world. This towering America spirit has prevailed over every challenge and lifted us to the summit of human endeavors.” Among the most noted lines of Biden’s own acceptance speech came when he promised to deliver the nation out of division, arguing that Trump “has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst,” Biden said. “I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness.” As the president strode to the podium at the end of day four, he had two additional options. The first was to shift the focus from his performance during his first term by laying out a compelling vision for the next four years. After nearly an hour at the podium Trump did lay out a vision for the future, but it was a rushed, almost perfunctory recitation of bullet-points. The real energy of the speech lay in the alternative strategy—turning the election into a choice rather than a referendum on President Trump’s first term or a competition over plans for the next four years. Trump would have the voters believe that Joe Biden is a “Trojan horse for socialism” too weak to stand up to Bernie Sanders and the radical socialist left, a candidate who if elected president would “demolish the suburbs.” Republicans largely abandoned talk of the health crisis as if it had abated, in favor of reminding voters of the robust economy that existed beforehand. During the Democratic convention the previous week, Biden put the focus on holding Trump accountable for his actions during the outbreak.“These two conventions have offered very different pictures of reality, in terms of where our country is now and what our future may hold,” said Christopher Devine, an expert in U.S. elections at the University of Dayton in Ohio. 

Although most of the speakers ignored it, the administration’s headliners, First Lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, did their best to defend the president’s record. The first lady opened with a heavy dose of empathy for Americans who have suffered during the pandemic, assuring people “you are not alone… my husband’s administration will not stop fighting until there is an effective vaccine.” And Vice President Pence claimed that “we’re slowing the spread… we’re opening up America again… and we’re opening up America’s schools,” ignoring the reality that the premature opening up of states, especially in the south, brought the virus back with a vengeance and that most of our schools are not able to conduct business as usual.

During the Republican convention, President Trump’s strategy for closing the gap became clear: intensify his support among white working-class voters while diminishing opposition among white suburbanites (especially women) and peeling off enough African American men to prevail in the Blue Wall states—Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania—whose electoral college votes put him over the top in 2016. The alternative—tacking to the center and softening his tone to broaden his appeal—seems not to have been considered.

While Trump gave the speech on the South Lawn of the White House, protesters gathered just outside the cordoned-off area to call for the end of the Trump administration, blowing horns and sirens in an attempt to drown out his televised speech (though they were at a distance).

 Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has ripped into President Donald Trump to rebuke the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC), saying it was “designed to soothe his ego”. “The Republican convention is designed for one purpose — to soothe Donald Trump’s ego. To make him feel good. But here’s the thing, he’s the President of the Us. And it’s not supposed to be about him,” Harris said in a speech in Washington, D.C on Thursday. “It’s supposed to be about the health, and the safety, and the well-being of the American people,” she said. “And on that measure, Donald Trump has failed.” Harris railed on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected 5,863,363 million people and killed 180,595, the highest tallies in the world. “It’s relentless. You can’t stop it with a tweet. You can’t create a distraction and hope it’ll go away. It doesn’t go away. By its nature, a pandemic is unforgiving. “If you get it wrong at the beginning, the consequences are catastrophic. It’s very hard to catch up… President Trump got it wrong in the beginning,” she added. Biden responded Thursday to the Trump campaign’s recent attacks on him with a lengthy statement directly refuting Vice President Mike Pence’s speech on Wednesday night. “Vice President Mike Pence stood before America and with a straight face said, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ His proof? The violence you’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America,” Biden said. “Did Mike Pence forget Donald Trump is president? Is Donald Trump even aware he’s president? “These are not images from some imagined ‘Joe Biden’s America’ in the future. These are images from Donald Trump’s America today. The violence we’re witnessing is happening under Donald Trump. Not me,” Biden said. “How safe do you feel in Donald Trump’s America?” The Biden campaign wants the presidential election to focus on Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and on the economic fallout.Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele — a critic of President Trump — warned that the presidential race is a dead heat and that Democratic nominee Joe Biden needs to offer a more compelling argument for why he should be elected. “This is a 50-50 race. It’s a 50-50 race right now,” Steele, one of the many high-profile Republicans who are supporting Biden, said in an interview Thursday on “The Long Game,” a Yahoo News podcast. Biden held a robust lead over Trump over the late spring and into the summer, but that lead has been shrinking. The RealClearPolitics polling average showed Biden up by 10 points in June, but the lead is now around 7 points. 

One thing is clear: the suburbs will be the central battleground in 2020, and both parties face challenges. If Republicans persuade suburban voters that Democrats will not stand up to violence and looting, President Trump could win a come-from-behind victory. If Democrats persuade these voters that Republicans are trying to win the election with racist dog-whistles, the result could be a Biden landslide.

Endorsements Come As Indian American Community’s Political Engagement Scales Rapidly

In a virtual town hall on August 26, 2020, IMPACT, the leading Indian American advocacy organization, announced its slate of endorsed candidates for the 2020 general election. “With so much at stake, the Indian American community will be actively leveraging our growth and galvanizing the community across the country to elect candidates that reflect the values we hold dear – justice, equality, and opportunity – up and down the ticket,” said IMPACT Executive Director Neil Makhija, who was be joined on the call by endorsed candidate for North Carolina State Treasurer, Ronnie Chatterji. “With nearly 200,000 citizens in battleground states like Pennsylvania and 125,000 in Michigan, Indian Americans can make all the difference in the course of the country,” said Makhija. Indian Americans have made the American Dream their own – a dream that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris understand because they’ve lived it, and a dream that is under existential threat if Donald Trump is re-elected.” In addition to the Biden-Harris ticket, the endorsements in 23 general election races include: 

President and Vice President

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris 

Congress

Ami Bera (US CA-07)
Sara Gideon (Maine Senate)
Pramila Jayapal (US WA-07)
Ro Khanna (US CA-17)
Raja Krishnamoorthi (US IL-08)
Sri Kulkarni (US TX-22)
Hiral Tipirneni (US AZ-06) 

Statewide and local offices

Nina Ahmad (PA Auditor General)
Ronnie Chatterji (NC Treasurer)
Jay Chaudhuri (NC SD-15)
Jeremy Cooney (NY SD-56)
Nima Kulkarni (KY HD-40)
Padma Kuppa (MI HD-41)
Rupande Mehta (NJ SD-25)
Pavan Parikh (OH Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas)
Jennifer Rajkumar (NY HD-38)
Kesha Ram (VT SD-Chittendon)
Ravi Sandill (TX DJ 127)
Nikil Saval (PA SD-01)
Amish Shah (AZ HD-24)
Vandana Slatter (WA HD-48,1)
Kevin Thomas (NY SD-06) IMPACT will provide direct contributions to endorsed candidates where permissible, help connect campaigns to interested supporters, and provide technical support to candidates. Earlier IMPACT announced that it would be raising $10 million to support candidates that shared its values.IMPACT’s endorsements come at a time of rising Indian American political engagement. Asian Americans are the fastest growing voting bloc in the country, and made the difference in key suburban house seats in 2018. An estimated 1.3 million Indian Americans are expected to vote in this year’s election, including nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania and 125,000 in Michigan.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy Says, Joe Biden Will Help Heal The Nation

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday asked India to end its reliance on polluting, financially volatile and costly fossil fuels and invest in clean, economically resilient solar power. Addressing TERI’s Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture virtually from New York due to Covid-19 restrictions, the UN chief asked all G20 countries, including India, to invest in a clean, green transition. “Today, as we endure the twin crises of Covid-19 and climate change, this effort has never been more important. “Worldwide, the pandemic has exposed systemic fragilities and inequalities that threaten the basis of sustainable development. A rapidly heating world threatens even more disruption and exposes even further our world’s deep and damaging imbalances. “Today’s young climate activists understand this. They understand climate justice. They know that the countries most affected by climate change have done the least to contribute to it,” he said in his lecture titled ‘The rise of renewables: Shining a light on a sustainable future’. “As we look to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, we must commit to doing better. That means transforming our economic, energy and health systems — to save lives, create stable, inclusive economies and stave off the existential threat of climate change. I want to talk to you today about how to bring that vision to life — and about India’s role in that vital effort,” said the UN Secretary-General.He said that India has all the ingredients for exerting the leadership at home and abroad envisioned by Darbari Seth, who co-founded TERI. “The drivers are poverty alleviation and universal energy access — two of India’s top priorities. Scaling up clean energy, particularly solar, is the recipe for solving both, he said.Investments in renewable energy, clean transport and energy efficiency during the recovery from the pandemic could extend electricity access to 270 million people worldwide — fully a third of the people that currently lack it. These same investments could help create nine million jobs annually over the next three years. Investments in renewable energy generate three times more jobs than investments in polluting fossil fuels. With the Covid-19 pandemic threatening to push many people back into poverty, such job creation is an opportunity that can’t be missed. Praising India, he said it is already pushing ahead in this direction.Since 2015, the number of people working in renewable energy in India has increased five-fold.Last year, the country’s spending on solar energy surpassed spending on coal-fired power generation for the first time. India has also made significant progress towards universal access to electricity. Yet despite an access rate of 95 per cent, 64 million Indians are still without access today. There is still work to do, and opportunities to be grasped. Clean energy and closing the energy access gap are good business. They are the ticket to growth and prosperity, he said. Yet, in India, subsidies for fossil fuels are still some seven times more than subsidies for clean energy. Continued support for fossil fuels in so many places around the world is deeply troubling. “I have asked all G20 countries, including India, to invest in a clean, green transition as they recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. This means ending fossil fuel subsidies, placing a price on carbon pollution and committing to no new coal after 2020,” said Guterres. “In their domestic stimulus and investment plans in response to Covid-19, countries such as the South Korea, the UK, and Germany, as well as the European Union, are speeding up the decarbonisation of their economies. “They are shifting from unsustainable fossil fuels to clean and efficient renewables, and investing in energy storage solutions, such as green hydrogen. And it is not just developed economies stepping up,” the UN Secretary-General said. “Many in the developing world are leading by example — countries such as Nigeria, which has recently reformed its fossil fuel subsidy framework. While I am encouraged by these positive signals, I am also increasingly concerned about several negative trends,” he said. Recent research on G20 recovery packages shows that twice as much recovery money has been spent on fossil fuels as clean energy. “In some cases, we are seeing countries doubling down on domestic coal and opening up coal auctions. This strategy will only lead to further economic contraction and damaging health consequences,” Guterres warned. “We have never had more evidence that pollution from fossil fuels and coal emissions severely damages human health and leads to much higher healthcare system costs. Outdoor air pollution, largely driven by high-emitting energy and transport sources, leads to damaging pulmonary diseases — asthma, pneumonia and lung cancer,” he said. Quoting scientific studies, he said this year researchers in the US concluded that people living in regions with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die from Covid-19. If fossil fuel emissions were eliminated, overall life expectancy could rise by more than 20 months, avoiding 5.5 million deaths per year worldwide. Investing in fossil fuels means more deaths and illness and rising healthcare costs. It is, simply put, a human disaster and bad economics, he said. “Not least, because the cost of renewables has fallen so much that it is already cheaper to build new renewable energy capacity than to continue operating 39 per cent of the world’s existing coal capacity. This share of uncompetitive coal plants will rapidly increase to 60 per cent in 2022. In India, 50 per cent of coal will be uncompetitive in 2022, reaching 85 per cent by 2025,” Guterres said. This is why the world’s largest investors are increasingly abandoning coal, he added. Urging all countries, especially the G20 countries, to commit to carbon neutrality before 2050 and to submit — well before COP26 — more ambitious nationally determined contributions, Guterres asked India to be at the helm of the ambitious leadership. Applauding India’s decision to take forward the International Solar Alliance in the form of One Sun, One World, One Grid, he said he was inspired by the Indian government’s decision to raise its target of renewable energy capacity from the initial 2015 goal of 175 gigawatts to 500 gigawatts by 2030.

It is Time for a Democratic Global Revolution

The people of the world need to seize the moment and bring about a democratic global revolution. It is time for a global parliament and real representation.

More than 21 million people got infected with the novel coronavirus and over 770,000 have died. Never before did the world witness similar collective lockdowns of social and economic activity that had to be enforced to contain the pandemic.

For many, the corona-related global crisis exacerbates a situation that was already critical before the outbreak of the virus.

The climate crisis is unfolding with record temperatures in Siberia, Greenland, the Antarctic and other places like the Middle East. The new climate apartheid is characterized by whether you can afford to shield yourself from such heat or not. Most cannot.

135 million people are facing crisis levels of hunger. There are currently more than 70 million displaced people who have fled war, persecution and conflict. It’s the worst humanitarian and refugee crisis in seventy years.

There is a global inequality crisis. Productivity gains and globalization disproportionately benefit the affluent. Financial assets in the trillions are hidden in offshore accounts from tax authorities. The world’s 26 richest billionaires own as much as the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet.

While global surveys confirm that people across all world regions strongly believe in democracy, there is in fact a democratic retreat. Confidence in the actual performance of democratic governments is waning. Populist nationalism and authoritarianism has been advancing, aided and abetted by social media platforms and the internet. Major arms control treaties are crumbling, geopolitical tensions are rising and multilateralism is under attack.

Civil society and citizens across the world are fighting back, though. Pro-democracy movements are at an all-time high as widespread protests in dozens of countries now and in recent times demonstrate. Freedom and justice have lost no appeal. At the same time, millions of citizens joined climate protests around the world and called for quick and effective action in this critical field.

The present issues are symptoms of a crisis of global governance. There is a scale mismatch between a political world order that is based on 200 states and territories and issues that demand decisive global action.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, the organization continues to lose significance and impact. The UN is only as strong and effective as its member states allow it to be. The same applies to all intergovernmental organizations and forums, including the World Health Organization that had to launch an investigation into its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UN’s Security Council, in particular, is suffering from a dysfunctional decision-making method that grants the five victors of the Second World War and official nuclear powers not only a permanent seat but also a veto right.

If long-lasting solutions are to be achieved, this scale mismatch must be tackled. It is not enough to call on individual governments to change their policies. The way how the world is governed must be changed. What is needed is a new vision of a democratic world order that is based on shared sovereignty on global issues, a clear commitment to human rights, the principle of subsidiarity and complete disarmament.

When the UN was founded it was recognized that this should only be a beginning and that changes would be required. Article 109 of the Charter provides that a conference to review the Charter should be held by 1955. The UN’s member states did not deliver on that promise. Now is the time to hold them to account. 

The world’s people need an actual say in global affairs that is not intermediated by national governments and their diplomats. The key ingredient of a new UN should be a democratically elected world parliament that complements intergovernmental bodies such as the UN General Assembly.

The creation of a new democratic world organization that has actual powers seems to be a gigantic project that raises numerous questions. How is a global democracy to be created while major states themselves are not democratically organised? Can decisions of a world parliament be enforced against the will of individual states? How is it possible that states will agree to the creation of a superior political unit?

These questions show the way forward: The people of the world themselves need to embrace and call for global democracy. Eventually, they are the sovereigns not only in their individual states but on the planet as a whole, too.

A global democratic revolution needs to push for a legitimate, inclusive and representative global body that will deal with these questions in a serious way. The creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly could be an important stepping stone to launch a global constitutional process and a transformation of global governance.

This global democratic revolution will be peaceful because it is not about destroying structures or conquering territories, but about opening up a political level that is lying idle. Supranational integration cannot be imposed by force. It will happen because the people want it. If existing movements in the fields of climate, environment, peace, disarmament, democracy, social justice and others join forces, the global democratic revolution will become very real.This may sound visionary. But the big issues troubling this planet and its people will remain, and worsen, unless the root cause is addressed. A democratic global government is not a mind game in some ivory tower. It is the most important question on the agenda of humanity today. (Daniel Jositsch is a Member of the Swiss Senate and President, Democracy Without Borders-Switzerland, and Andreas Bummel is Executive Director, Democracy Without Borders. Twitter: @democracywb)

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of AAPI, Proposes US-Israel-India Health Dialogue

The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact the world as never before with millions around the world being affected. India and the United States lead the world chart with some of the highest number of cases being impacted and several hundreds losing their lives.

Collaboration and sharing of knowledge and expertise among the nations of the world is key to combating the virus and finding solutions to contain the spread and heal those who are affected. In this context, a Virtual Panel Discussion on “Can 30 Seconds Save the World? Israeli-Indian Cooperation to develop a rapid test for COVID-19” was held on August 26th.

 Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Chairman, Parikh Media Worldwide moderated a panel discussion, which was cosponsored by the Indian and Israeli Consulates in New York, American Jewish Committee, American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, Parikh Media Worldwide, ITV Gold and the Hindu-Jewish Coalition. New York based Consul Generals Israel Nitzan (Israel) and Randhir Jaiswal (India) gave opening remarks as the cohosts of the program along with Rabbi David Levy of AJC New Jersey. Dr. Parikh gave the audience of over 150 guests which included Panama’s Health Minister.

In his remarks, Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda, President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) called for a joint US-Israel-India Health dialogue with Israeli physicians from reputed hospitals to study and identify as to how with significantly limited resources, Israel is able to provide quality healthcare to all of its citizens. Dr. Jonnalagadda provided a brief on AAPI’s role and several initiatives it has undertaken in fighting COVID-19 in the US and India. “AAPI members are putting their best efforts to help our patients, especially those impacted by COVID,” he said. “Several of our physicians have been affected in this pandemic. We are continuing our efforts to make AAPI a more dynamic and  vibrant organization playing a meaningful and relevant part in advocating health policies and practices that best serve the interests of all patients  and  promoting the  physician’s role   as  the  leaders of the  team based health care delivery.”

He recalled of the AAPI’s mission to Israel and Jordan in 2019, and hoped “to work with our close friend Nissim B Reuben to ensure that we take such a mission annually to Israel in cooperation with AJC where we will call on the Israeli PM, Foreign Minister as well as Indian & US Ambassadors in Israel, enabling series of dialogue and discussions between India, Israel and the United States.

Dr. Jagdish Gupta, AAPI Mid-Atlantic Director and a member of AAPI’s BOT, in his remarks highlighted that his alma mater the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) which hosted the large mission of Israeli COVID-19 experts on its premises earlier this month led by Ambassador Ron Malka, who has been playing a significant role in fighting COVID-19 in India. Dr. Gupta hopes to see Israel-India Medical Cooperation between healthcare institutions such as AIIMS as well as other leading private sector hospitals such as Apollo, Medanta, Zydus etc. He Dr. Gupta, in his capacity as the President of the AIIMS Alumni in the US, oferred whole hearted support from the Alumni Group in future Israel-India medical cooperation initiatives.Dr. Jonnalagadda and Dr. Gupta were referring to an Israeli team, led by a “high ranking” research and development (R&D) defense officials, were in Delhi recently with a multi-pronged mission, codenamed “Operation Breathing Space” to work with Indian authorities on the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.

Amongst the plans for the team, which were coordinated by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and Indian Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the Ministry of Health, were four different kinds of rapid tests, which are jointly developed after trials on Indian COVID-19 patients, as well as high-tech equipment to minimize exposure of medical staff to the virus, advanced respirators and special sanitizers developed in Israel.“What they all have in common is the ability to detect the presence of the virus in the body quickly — usually within minutes. Developing diagnostic capabilities is a goal for the State of Israel and of many additional countries around the world. It is the most effective way to cut off ‘chains of infection’, prevent prolonged quarantine and enable the reopening of the global economy,” a media report on the Israeli mission to India said.

“If even one of the tests proves to be effective in testing for coronavirus in 30-40 seconds, this could be a game changer for the whole world and how we behave, at least until we have a vaccine,” Israeli Ambassador Ron Malka, who flew to Delhi by the special flight from Tel Aviv with the team and medical equipment aid, had said. “Imagine how much easier it will be to operate flights, schedule conferences and meetings, if we can test so easily and quickly,” he explained.

In his remarks, Ambassador Dr. Ron Malka gave an impressive overview of India-Israel relations. Besides the recent mega COVID-19 mission, he mentioned that Israel recently signed a mega water management agreement with Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state.

Dr. Sudhir Parikh provided an overview of the growth of Indo-Israeli relationship going back to 1950 when India recognized Israel. With tireless efforts from Indian American community, including Dr. Sudhir Parikh, Dr. Bharat Barai and several other Indian-American leaders nationwide, India formally established diplomatic relationship in 1991.

Dr. Parikh thanked his close friend Nissim B Reuben for inviting him and his colleagues Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda and Dr. Jagdish Gupta to be part of the panel. Both the Parikh and Reuben families are personally known to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who fondly calls Nissim India’s Rashtradoot – Goodwill Ambassador to the Jewish World. Since 2002, Nissim has had a significant role to play through his work at AJC building robust Jewish & Indian diaspora relations jointly advocating for close ties between the US, India & Israel in the strategic, economic, tech & cultural areas including organizing Hanukkah receptions in his Indian-Jewish tradition at the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC and Consulates in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Houston.

Dr. Parikh offered Ambassador Ron Malka assistance in the process of enabling a similar regular exchange of experts in the health sector between India & Israel. He commended both PMs Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu, their scientific advisors & Ambassadors Ron Malka and Sanjeev Singla for their role in spearheading the robust India-Israel ties mentioning that the large Israeli delegation setting up a two weeks COVID testing camp in Delhi under Ambassador Malka’s leadership as an example.

As Secretary of the Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO) both Dr. Sudhir Parikh and American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) President Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalagadda enthusiastically offered to advocate with the US administration and congress the importance of forging closer cooperation in the health and disaster management sector between the US, India and Israel.

Israel has set up 29 Centers of Excellence across India to help Indian farmers learn the best Israeli expertise in Agriculture to benefit Indian farmers. This is a huge help as 60% of the Indian economy is still dependent on Agriculture. Dr. Parikh suggested to Ambassador Ron Malka, that “with assistance from the Indian & Jewish diaspora communities, we would like Israel to be able to set up similar Centers of Health Cooperation across India.” He offered whole hearted support from GAPIO & AAPI for this endeavor bringing in our own USAID into the loop from the US.

Andrew Gross, Director, New-Jersey—Israel Commission from the New Jersey Governor’s office gave closing remarks offering Governor Phil Murphy’s robust support to partnership initiatives between New Jersey, Israel and India in all areas especially in the health, biomedical and biotech sectors.Nissim B. Reuben, Assistant Director, Asia Pacific Institute (API) and American Jewish Committee (AJC)  said, “I am honored to represent AJC every year and address on the US-India-Israel partnership at the AAPI Legislative Day on Capitol Hill. “We are looking forward to working with Nissim & AJC on taking an AAPI Leadership Mission to Israel and helping in the process of establishing Israeli Medical Centers of Excellence in India,” Dr. Jonnalagadda added. For more details on AAPI and its many programs and events, please visit: www.aapiusa.org 

Greater Sacramento Indian Americans Celebrate India Day

Over five thousand people, who used to come every year from the Greater Sacramento area and further away in the California-USA, to witness the India Day celebrations organized by Indian Association of Sacramento (IAS) for the past15 years. This year, India Day Celebrations event which was scheduled to be held August 15th, 2020 but canceled by “IAS”, in the interest of public safety due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the United States, Indian-American organizations celebrate their motherland’s Independence annually at numerous venues, with parades, and other functions. This year, all in-person events are obviously out of question due to Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing measures in place. Many celebrated them online, thanks to new online meeting technologies.  On Aug 15th, 2020 at 5PM, IAS unfurled the Indian tricolor flag in the lawn area in front of California State Capitol. On the same day at 4PM, IAS conducted a car parade at State Capitol, Sacramento with approximately 50 cars. Satheesh Nagaraja, Co-lead of parade decorated his car with colorful Indian flags and led the car parade. Other Indian-American participants decorated their respective cars with tricolor flags and rallied around the State Capitol for about 30 mins. According to IAS President Shivesh Sinha, “It will be the first time ever that India’s tricolor will be unfurled at the iconic CA State Capital venue in all its glory. On this very special day when our mother country is celebrating her 74th birthday, I wish you a very happy Indian Independence Day”.  “This year’s Independence Day will mark a new chapter in IAS’s history, organizing India Day car parade, and an online India Day event to celebrate India’s Independence Day,” organizers said. IAS Board of Trustee Dr Bhavin Parikh said with the unfurling of the tricolour at CA State Capitol Building, history has been created. A large number of people, dressed in traditional Indian clothes and wearing masks, joined the celebration at the Lawn in front of CA State Capitol building. Waving the Indian and American flags, the people shouted slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jai Hind’.  The Indian national anthem was sung by the crowd. The crowd erupted in huge cheers and applause as the Indian tricolour flag was raised in front of CA State Capital, alongside the American flag, commenting that it was indeed a proud and historic moment for all.  IAS vice president Bhaskar Vempati said it was a historic moment for the Indian community that the tricolour was unfurled for the first time in front of CA State Capitol. “It is indeed a proud moment for all of us,” he said.   Several participants in the car parade commented, “The India Day Parade is very much in line with the CA-American Story”, “There’s other parades and events like Memorial Day, Martin Luther King Day, Cesar Chavez Day… The India Day Car Parade is one more colorful piece that makes up the mosaic of CA-Indian American life”, “It is a grand car parade, good for our people, culture and community. It is not feasible in this age of coronavirus to have a large crowd, Thanks to IAS for conducting this parade peacefully”. Paresh Sinha, Lead of India Day parade thanked everyone who participated in the car parade beating the heavy day time temperatures in Sacramento.  Later that day on 15th, at 6PM hundreds of members of the Indian-American community-based in Greater Sacramento & across the world participated in the IAS Virtual India Day Celebrations live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.  They all were mesmerized by watching colorful rich Indian cultural performances for about 3 hrs non-stop and congratulated the cultural show participants. Deputy Consul General of India at San Francisco’s Indian Consulate, Mr Rajesh Naik attended IAS India Day virtually and wished Sacramento Indian Community on the occasion of 74th Independence Day. Naik spoke about the services provided by the consulate and how they are trying to help people to make it easier for them to get what they need. Mr Rajesh Naik, who took charge at the consulate in late August, is a career diplomat from the 2010 batch of the Indian Foreign Service.  IAS thanked everyone for supporting IAS’s new way of celebrating India Day during COVID-19 pandemic.  For those who missed the IAS India Day event, IAS encourages them to enjoy the event records using these links. Facebook link:  https://www.facebook.com/IndiaDaySacramento/live/ Youtube link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw1IrJrZJKE  Established in 2005, Indian Association of Sacramento is one of the largest umbrella organizations in the Indian community. Since 2006, the IAS has been organizing India Day annually, which showcases India’s cultural heritage and history. Since its inception, IAS raised over $160,000 funds for helping out several non-profits in and out of the USA. This year IAS raised $12,000 funds and assisted needy people living in Greater Sacramento with face masks, meals, groceries, medical and school supplies. IAS marketing representative Venkat Nagam suggested the readers visit the IAS website: http://www.iassac.org/ for more information about IAS and it’s events/activities spread throughout the year.   

TPS Beneficiaries Retain Same Immigration Status after Traveling Abroad

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today announced a Policy Memorandum adopting the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) decision on Matter of Z‑R‑Z‑C.

The decision holds that Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiaries who travel abroad using a Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-issued travel document under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 244(f)(3) generally will retain the same immigration status on their return that they had at the time of departure. Exceptions apply to aliens inadmissible under certain criminal or national security grounds or with immigrant or nonimmigrant visas they present for admission to the United States.

This travel does not satisfy the “inspected and admitted or paroled” eligibility requirement for obtaining adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. This is consistent with the agency’s previous clarification that a TPS beneficiary’s authorized travel does not execute a final order of removal.

Furthermore, this decision is in line with the Miscellaneous and Technical Immigration and Naturalization Amendments Act of 1991 (MTINA), which specifies that TPS beneficiaries who travel using a valid DHS-issued travel document retain the same immigration status upon return.

“Temporary Protected Status is by its very nature temporary,” said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. “It should not provide a path to lawful permanent resident status or citizenship. Misinterpretation and inconsistent application of this law has previously allowed those pathways for alien TPS beneficiaries. This was a mistaken distortion of what Congress intended when creating this temporary program.”
Recognizing TPS beneficiaries’ potential reliance on USCIS’ past practice and treatment of their temporary travel abroad, USCIS will limit how it applies Matter of Z-R-Z-C to minimize adverse impacts to this group. This decision does not affect TPS beneficiaries who adjusted status to lawful permanent residence under past practice and/or prior guidance or who have pending applications for adjustment of status.

In addition, USCIS will only apply Matter of Z-R-Z-C prospectively to TPS beneficiaries who departed and returned to the United States under section 244(f)(3) of the INA after Aug. 20, 2020, the date of the AAO’s adopted decision.

Meanwhile, Office for Immigrant Advancement Director Yusufi Vali has said that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is making significant changes to the naturalization application. Starting October 2, it is raising the cost of application from $725 to $1,200 and eliminating the fee waiver for most low-income residents.

USCIS is also increasing the permanent residence (green card) application fee and implementing an asylum application fee, making the United States one of four countries to do so.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).

Emoroy Museum Presents Transcendent Deities of India

What does it mean to see and be seen by the divine? What does it mean to see the divine in new ways? These are the questions underlying Transcendent Deities of India: The Everyday Occurrence of the Divine, an exhibition of more than 70 works of art by Raja Ravi Varma, Manjari Sharma, and Abhishek Singh. 

For Hindus in India, images of gods and goddesses are an integral part of religious practice. These images inspire worshippers and artists alike, populating the art of the region for thousands of years and demonstrating their power through hundreds of millions of daily encounters as part of rituals at temples, shrines, and other settings within India and the broader diaspora. 

Transcendent Deities of India explores the visual communion between human and divine. Through prints, photographs, graphic art, paintings, and illustrations, Varma, Sharma, and Singh offer modern and contemporary interpretations of traditional imagery that position Hindu gods and goddesses within viewers’ frame of reference, ensuring their seamless applicability in new eras. 

Vishnu, the preserver, comes to earth in times of distress in order to maintain the cosmic order. Dr. Harshita Kamath, Koppaka Assistant Professor in Telugu Culture, Literature, and History, will discuss the conception of Vishnu in the Hindu pantheon and his role illustrated by the works in the exhibition Transcendent Deities: The Everyday Occurrence of the Divine and the Carlos’s permanent collection

Proof Bakeshop, whose sour cherry scones are a beloved feature of AntiquiTEA programs at the Carlos, has provided a recipe from pastry chef Mike Carmody, so you can make them at home, and have them warm from the oven when the program begins.

Of the hundreds of Hindu deities, the elephant-headed god Ganesha  is among the most beloved. Known as the “Lord of New Beginnings” and the “Remover of Obstacles,” his familiar image can be found near the entrance of Hindu homes, temples, shops, restaurants, and even on the dashboard of cars both in India and here in the United States.

This is a part of the South Asian collections of Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum which represent living religious traditions that originated in India thousands of years ago and spread throughout Asia and around the globe. As the third- and fourth-largest religions in the world, Buddhism and Hinduism have millions of followers, not only in Asia, but here in the United States, and even in Atlanta.

“The Everyday Occurrence of the Divine,” a collection of artwork from India on Hindu Dieties is on display at the famous Emoroy Museum from January 18 – October 18, 2020. To learn more about the Carlos Museum’s collection of Hindu art and how it is used in religious practice, visit Odyssey Online South Asia, an interactive resource.   Click here to watch Manjari Sharma’s artist talk about her Darshan series. 

Galactic Bar Paradox Resolved in Cosmic Dance

New light has been shed on a mysterious and long-standing conundrum at the very heart of our galaxy. The new work offers a potential solution to the so-called ‘Galactic bar paradox’, whereby different observations produce contradictory estimates of the motion of the central regions of the Milky Way. The results are published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The majority of spiral galaxies, like our home the Milky Way, host a large bar-like structure of stars in their centre. Knowledge of the true bar size and rotational speed is crucial for understanding how galaxies form and evolve, as well as how they form similar bars throughout the Universe.

However our galaxy’s bar size and rotational speed have been strongly contested in the last 5 years; while studies of the motions of stars near the Sun find a bar that is both fast and small, direct observations of the Galactic central region agree on one that is significantly slower and larger.

The new study, by an international team of scientists led by Tariq Hilmi of the University of Surrey and Ivan Minchev of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), suggests an insightful solution to this discrepancy. Analysing state-of-the-art galaxy formation simulations of the Milky Way, they show that both the bar’s size and its rotational speed fluctuate rapidly in time, causing the bar to appear up to twice as long and rotate 20 percent faster at certain times.

The bar pulsations result from its regular encounters with the Galactic spiral arms, in what can be described as a “cosmic dance”. As the bar and spiral arm approach each other, their mutual attraction due to gravity makes the bar slow down and the spiral speed up. Once connected, the two structures move as one and the bar appears much longer and slower than it actually is. As the dancers split apart, the bar speeds up while the spiral slows back down.

“The controversy about the Galactic bar can then be simply resolved if we happen to be living at a time when the bar and spiral are connected, giving the illusion of a large and slow bar,” comments Dr Minchev. “However the motion of the stars near the Sun remains governed by the bar’s true, much smaller nature, and so those observations appear contradictory.” Recent observations have confirmed that the inner Milky Way spiral arm is currently connected to the bar, which happens about once every 80 million years according to the simulations. Data from the forthcoming 3rd data release of the Gaia mission will be able to test this model further, and future missions will discover if the dance goes on in other galaxies across the Universe.

Dev Patel In and As David Copperfield

With cinemas across most of North America now reopened with social distancing protocols in place, moviegoing gets restarted with Dev Patel’s acclaimed new comedy THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD which opened only in theaters this Friday, August 28. Earning a fantastic 93% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film also stars Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, and a diverse cast of talented actors. Even if it seems that the novels of Charles Dickens have been adapted for film and television too many times over the years, the opposite is probably true. Every generation should have plenty of Dickens to splash around in. His characters offer a kaleidoscopic range of emotions for actors to explore, and his plots have such sturdy bones that they invite all manner of creative interpretations: think of Alfonso Cuarón’s verdant and deeply romantic Great Expectations, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke, which brought Dickens to late-20th-century New York, or Richard Donner’s wondrous Scrooged, the perfect holiday elixir for crabby adults, starring Bill Murray as the world’s most finest and most famous Christmastime miser. The important question to ask about a Dickens adaptation isn’t “Is it faithful?” but “Is it alive?” Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield may not be perfect, but it is alive, at least partly because of its perceptive, jaunty casting and fine performances. Dev Patel plays the title character, born to a single mother (she was widowed after his conception) and fated to weather a number of hardships en route to adulthood, though nothing can kill his spirit. As a boy (at this point played by Jairaj Varsani), he adores his tender-hearted mother, Clara (Morfydd Clark), and the family housekeeper, Peggotty (Daisy May Cooper), a woman of generous spirit and good humor: both women delight in his curiosity about people and language. Then, in a characteristically Dickensian twist, the cruel Mr. Murdstone (Darren Boyd) marries Clara and takes over the household, ultimately sending David off to work in a bottle factory. That’s no fun at all, but still, young David finds his way, making observations about the people he meets and writing down their funny or strange turns of phrase; before long he’s collected a compendium of human behavior, much of it amusing, though some displaying thoughtlessness or cruelty. The full title of Dickens’ novel was The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery (Which He Never Meant to Publish on Any Account), a wink at the many lives one life can encompass, and it was itself somewhat autobiographical: for one thing, Dickens spent time working in a shoe factory as a child. But as its title suggests, it’s also a celebration of observational powers, and Iannucci’s focus here is what makes a person a writer. Young David’s skills as a perceptive fly-on-the-wall are encouraged by his mother and by Peggotty, and later, he uses them to unlock the deeply human eccentricities of those around him. But he doesn’t live his life as a means of gathering material; rather, he’s a magnet for all that’s funny, odd or interesting about the world. He goes in search of nothing; everything comes to him. Even through times of hardship, when weaker souls might close down, his eyes are wide open every minute, his figurative butterfly net held perpetually aloft. Iannucci—whose last movie was the 2017 satire The Death of Stalin—hasn’t changed the era or the setting of Dickens’ novel, but he’s not going for stately authenticity: This David Copperfield has a slapstick heart, and a rather whimsical toy-theater vibe. When young David is whisked off to Yarmouth by Peggotty, as part of Murdstone’s early efforts to get him out of the way, the tiny upside-down-boat where Peggotty’s family lives is a ramshackle riot of color, almost like a relic from Robert Altman’s 1980 hallucinatory gem Popeye. (When David later returns as an adult, it’s grayer, more weatherbeaten—we then observe it as he sees it, through adult eyes.) The action moves at a clip, although in the process of condensing a gloriously sprawling book into a rather compact two-hour movie, Iannucci does take certain liberties with the plot—the story whirls to an end rather hastily, as if he found himself stuck with bunches of loose ends that he wasn’t quite sure how to tie up. But it all breezes by pleasurably enough, and Iannucci’s casting is key here: Tilda Swinton is wonderful as Betsey Trotwood, David’s aunt and eventual caretaker, bustling and buttoned-up at once. Peter Capaldi is an endearing Mr. Micawber, the scatterbrained patriarch who’s always in need of a loan, and Hugh Laurie makes a delightful, dithery Mr. Dick, trying his best to get on with a piece of writing but endlessly distracted by visions of King Charles’ severed head. Rosalind Eleazar is charming as Agnes Whitfield, David’s longtime friend and confidante and the woman whom he realizes, at long last, he truly loves. Dickens wrote in an England that was mostly white, but his stories are capacious enough, and generous enough, to embrace everyone. It’s remarkable that in 2020 we still use phrases like nontraditional casting; it’s time to simply call it casting, as a way of shoving aside calcified notions about who can play what. Patel plays David Copperfield as a young man eager to face the world, no matter what it offers him; he’s motivated by kindness, even as he refuses to suffer fools. Nimble, appealing and attuned to the nuances of Dickens’ spirit, Patel is a good Copperfield for today, a bright young man who’s able to overcome adversity and go far. Everyone needs a story like that. Dickens knew it in 1850; we can’t retell it enough.

The Intersection of Science and Religion

Over the centuries, the relationship between science and religion has ranged from conflict and hostility to harmony and collaboration, while various thinkers have argued that the two concepts are inherently at odds and entirely separate.

But much recent research and discussion on these issues has taken place in a Western context, primarily through a Christian lens. To better understand the ways in which science relates to religion around the world, Pew Research Center engaged a small group of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists to talk about their perspectives. These one-on-one, in-depth interviews took place in Malaysia and Singapore – two Southeast Asian nations that have made sizable investments in scientific research and development in recent years and that are home to religiously diverse populations.

The discussions reinforced the conclusion that there is no single, universally held view of the relationship between science and religion, but they also identified some common patterns and themes within each of the three religious groups. For example, many Muslims expressed the view that Islam and science are basically compatible, while, at the same time, acknowledging some areas of friction – such as the theory of evolution conflicting with religious beliefs about the origins and development of human life on Earth. Evolution also has been a point of discord between religion and science in the West.

Hindu interviewees generally took a different tack, describing science and religion as overlapping spheres. As was the case with Muslim interviewees, many Hindus maintained that their religion contains elements of science, and that Hinduism long ago identified concepts that were later illuminated by science – mentioning, for example, the antimicrobial properties of copper or the health benefits of turmeric. In contrast with Muslims, many Hindus said the theory of evolution is encompassed in their religious teachings.

Buddhist interviewees generally described religion and science as two separate and unrelated spheres. Several of the Buddhists talked about their religion as offering guidance on how to live a moral life, while describing science as observable phenomena. Often, they could not name any areas of scientific research that concerned them for religious reasons. Nor did Buddhist interviewees see the theory of evolution as a point of conflict with their religion. Some said they didn’t think their religion addressed the origins of life on Earth.

Some members of all three religious groups, however, did express religious concerns when asked to consider specific kinds of biotechnology research, such as gene editing to change a baby’s genetic characteristics and efforts to clone animals. For example, Muslim interviewees said cloning would tamper with the power of God, and God should be the only one to create living things. When Hindus and Buddhists discussed gene editing and cloning, some, though not all, voiced concern that these scientific developments might interfere with karma or reincarnation.

But religion was not always the foremost topic that came to mind when people thought about science. In response to questions about government investment in scientific research, interviewees generally spoke of the role of scientific achievements in national prestige and economic development; religious differences faded into the background.

These are some of the key findings from a qualitative analysis of 72 individual interviews with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists conducted in Malaysia and Singapore between June 17 and Aug. 8, 2019.The study included 24 people in each of three religious groups (Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists), with an equal number in each country. All interviewees said their religion was “very” or “somewhat” important to their lives, but they otherwise varied in terms of age, gender, profession and education level.

A majority of Malaysians are Muslim, and the country has experienced natural migration patterns over the years. As a result, Buddhist interviewees in Malaysia were typically of Chinese descent, Hindus were of Indian descent and Muslim interviewees were Malay. Singapore is known for its religious diversity; a 2014 Pew Research Center analysis found the city-state to have the highest level of religious diversity in the world.

Insights from these qualitative interviews are inherently limited in that they are based on small convenience samples of individuals and are not representative of religious groups either in their country or globally. Instead, in-depth interviews provide insight into how individuals describe their beliefs, in their own words, and the connections they see (or don’t see) with science. To help guard against putting too much weight on any single individual’s comments, all interviews were coded into themes, following a systematic procedure. Where possible throughout the rest of this report, these findings are shown in comparison with quantitative surveys conducted with representative samples of adults in global publics to help address questions about the extent to which certain viewpoints are widely held among members of each religious group. This also shows how Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists as well as Christians around the world compare with each other.

One of the most striking takeaways from interviews conducted with Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists stems from the different ways that people in each group described their perspectives on the relationship between science and religion. The Muslims interviewed tended to speak of an overlap between their religion and science, and some raised areas of tension between the two. Hindu interviewees, by and large, described science and religion as overlapping but compatible spheres. By contrast, Buddhist interviewees described science and religion as parallel concepts, with no particular touchpoints between the two.A similar pattern emerged when interviewees were asked about possible topics that should be off limits to scientific research for religious reasons. Many Muslim interviewees readily named research areas that concerned them, such as studies using non-halal substances or some applications of assisted reproductive technology (for example, in vitro fertilization using genetic material from someone other than a married couple). By contrast, the Hindus and Buddhists in the study did not regularly name any research topics that they felt should be off limits to scientists.

The predominant view among Hindus interviewed in Malaysia and Singapore is that science and Hinduism are related and compatible. Many of the Hindu interviewees offered – without prompting– the assertion that their religion contains many ancient insights that have been upheld by modern science. For instance, multiple interviewees described the use of turmeric in cleansing solutions, or the use of copper in drinking mugs. They said Hindus have known for thousands of years that these materials provide health benefits, but that scientists have only confirmed relatively recently that it’s because turmeric and copper have antimicrobial properties. “When you question certain rituals or rites in Hinduism, there’s also a relatively scientific explanation to it,” said a Hindu woman (age 29, Singapore).

While many of the Hindu interviewees said science and religion overlap, others described the two as separate realms. “Religion doesn’t really govern science, and it shouldn’t. Science should just be science. … Today, the researchers, even if they are religious, the research is your duty. The duty and religion are different,” said one Hindu man (age 42, Singapore).

Asked to think about areas of scientific research that might raise concerns or that should not be pursued for religious reasons, Hindu interviewees generally came up blank, saying they couldn’t think of any such areas. A few mentioned areas of research that concerned them, but no topic area came up consistently.

Buddhist interviewees described science and religion in distinctly different ways than either Muslims or Hindus. For the most part, Buddhists said that science and religion are two unrelated domains. Some have long held that Buddhism and its practice are aligned with the empirically driven observations in the scientific method; connections between Buddhism and science have been bolstered by neuroscience research into the effects of Buddhist meditation at the core of the mindfulness movement.

Pew Research Center survey of Muslims worldwide conducted in 2011 and 2012 found a 22-public median of 53% said they believed humans and other living things evolved over time. However, levels of acceptance of evolution varied by region and country, with Muslims in South and Southeast Asian countries reporting lower levels of belief in evolution by this measure than Muslims in other regions.In discussing scientific research using gene editing, cloning and reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist interviewees raised the idea that such practices may go against the natural order or interfere with nature. As one Buddhist man simply put it: “If you have anything that interferes with the law of nature, you will have conflict. If you leave nature alone, you will have no conflict” (age 64, Singapore). Similarly, a Muslim woman said “anything that disrupts or changes the natural state” goes against religious beliefs (age 20, Singapore). In a U.S.-based Pew Research Center survey, a majority of Christians (55%) said that science and religion are “often in conflict” when thinking in general terms about religion. When thinking about their own religious beliefs, however, fewer Christians (35%) said their personal religious beliefs sometimes conflict with science; a majority of U.S. Christians (63%) said the two do not conflict.

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.

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.

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.

At An “Unconventional” Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama Launches Blistering Attack On Trump

“You simply cannot fake your way through this job,” Michelle Obama, the former First Lady said in her keynote address that closed the first night of the convention, as Democrats kicked off the four-day nominating process in a historic Virtual “Unconventional” Party Convention on Monday, August 17th. “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” said the former US first lady in a message to the Democratic convention.

The first virtual convention opened with a gathering (of sorts) featuring a diverse roster of Democratic Party loyalists, members of the old guard, ascending stars, former 2020 contenders and some prominent Republicans, calling upon the nation to vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. In speeches and testimonies by leaders, ordinary Americans and children from all walks of life urged the nation to end the “tragic” reign of Donald Trump, the incumbent, by ousting Trump and restoring “the soul of the country.”Over four days, Democrats are set to deliver an overriding message of unity — one that they hope will carry through to November and bring voters of all stripes into the big tent party. Dominating the night, which is framed around the three major crises that continue to grip the nation ahead of the 2020 election — the coronavirus pandemic, the ongoing economic downturn the virus has sparked and the national reckoning over racial injustice — is the party’s push to contrast President Donald Trump and presumptive nominee Joe Biden.

Democrats sought to highlight Americans affected by Trump’s presidency as part of their effort to leverage the convention to recruit swing voters ahead of the general election. Between speeches from political mainstays throughout the Democratic party, everyday workers were given an opportunity to speak on their experiences throughout the last three-and-a-half years of the Trump presidency — including the last few months of the coronavirus pandemic — and underscore why they are now getting behind Biden.

Biden, the speakers consistently argued, is the only one who can lead the country out of chaos and divisiveness. The convention’s climax comes on Thursday, when Biden officially accepts the party’s nomination at his 12th convention, marking the start of the general election season. On Wednesday, the party is set to make history, as Biden’s vice-presidential pick, Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrant parents from India and Jamaica, will accept her nomination as the first woman of color to be a running mate on a major party presidential ticket.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., whose endorsement in late February helped propel Biden to the nomination, called Biden “an adopted son of South Carolina,” arguing that the differences between Biden and Trump could not be more clear.  “We will need a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job, a president who understands the true meaning of community and how to build it through trust and humility,” Clyburn said. “We need a president who understands both profound loss, and what it takes to bounce back.That’s why I stand with Joe.”

Another longtime friend of Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, delivered both a personal appeal for Biden’s candidacy and an implicit, blistering critique of Trump. “We need a leader as good as our people. A leader who appeals to the best within us, not the worst. A leader who can unify, not divide,” Cuomo said. “I know that man, I’ve worked with that man. I’ve seen his talent. I’ve seen his strength. I’ve seen his pain and I’ve seen his heart… Joe Biden can restore the soul of America, and that’s exactly what our country needs today.”

Beyond the virtual format, the convention balanced an ideological labyrinth, embracing the progressive wing of the party and Republicans disillusioned by the president. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., the progressive stalwart and last of the 2020 candidates to exit the race, cited the progress his insurgent movement has made, suggesting that the priorities that once seemed radical only years ago, are now considered “mainstream.” He also turned to all the reasons why his loyal backers must line up behind Biden, telling his base that while he and Biden are very different, he knows the former vice president “will move us forward.”

“Joe supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Sanders said. “Joe will also make it easier for workers to join unions, create 12 weeks of paid family leave, fund universal pre-K for 3 and 4-year-olds and make child care affordable for millions of families… While Joe and I disagree on the best path to get universal coverage, he has a plan that will greatly expand health care and cut the costs of prescription drugs.”

Sanders also underscored the stakes of the election.  “Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs,” he said, a sharp jab at the president. “We must come together, defeat Donald Trump, and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who crossed party lines to appear at the Democratic convention, was not alone in his stance, but he was the most high-profile Republican speakers, and reflected the breadth of Biden’s efforts in courting voters.  “I’m sure there are Republicans and independents who couldn’t imagine crossing over to support a Democrat,” Kasich said. “They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that because I know the measure of the man. It’s reasonable, faithful, respectful, and, you know, no one pushes Joe around.”

The former First Lady’s focus in the lead up to the election centered around voter engagement and registration– while quietly denouncing and subtly the president and his time in the Oval Office. Monday night she chose a more direct path, highlighting what she sees as failures by the president: an economy in shambles, the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died from the coronavirus pandemic and racial inequity which has plagued the nation for years.

In speaking to Americans and potential voters, Ms. Obama said she understands the distaste many across the country have for politics, but that a “moral foundation” is missing from the White House. “I am here tonight because I love this country with all my heart, and it pains me to see so many people hurting,” she said. “Barack and I have tried our best to instill in our girls a strong moral foundation to carry forward the values that our parents and grandparents poured into us. But right now, kids in this country are seeing what happens when we stop requiring empathy of one another. They’re looking around wondering if we’ve been lying to them this whole time about who we are and what we truly value.”

“Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy,” she said. “So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

She wrapped up her speech with a key phrase spoken by those who endorsed Biden: “I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man, guided by faith. He was a terrific vice president. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic, and lead our country — and he listens. He will tell the truth and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team and he will govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize.”

She said the last four years had been difficult to explain to America’s children. “They see our leaders labelling fellow citizens enemies of the state, while emboldening torch-bearing white supremacists.  “Our economy is in shambles because of a virus that this president downplayed for too long. Because whenever we look to this White House for some leadership, or consolation or any semblance of steadiness, what we get instead is chaos, division and a total and utter lack of empathy. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” Ms. Obama’s goal was to drive home the gravity of the moment and to give them a call to action. She described Mr. Biden as a “profoundly decent man”, touting the Democratic White House candidate’s experience as vice-president under her husband, President Barack Obama. “We have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.”

‘Indians for Biden National Council’ Launched After Historic Biden-Harris Ticket Announced

Celebrating Kamala Harris” selection as the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, Indian-Americans in the US have launched ”Indians for Biden National Council” to campaign for the Indian-origin candidate in the November 3 presidential elections.

In recognition of the historic nature of Senator Harris’s announcement, and the opportunity it presents to further cement the Indian American community’s support for the Democratic Party, the Council will promote and highlight the close ties between the 2020 Democratic Ticket and the Indian American community.  The Council will debut on Saturday at the Indian Independence Day event hosted by the Biden campaign and South Asians for Biden.

Under the South Asians for Biden umbrella organization, the Council will mobilize Indian Americans of all faiths and backgrounds to work to get the Biden-Harris ticket and other Democrats elected across the country.

Neha Dewan, National Director of South Asians for Biden, noted that it was critical for Indian Americans and other South Asians to understand what’s at stake with the election, especially with early voting beginning in just a few weeks.

“South Asians for Biden is excited to launch the Indians for Biden National Council to promote a ticket that is reflective of America,” Dewan said. “Joe Biden’s experience and know-how, along with Kamala Harris’s unrelenting grit and passion for fighting for justice, is exactly what is needed for these unprecedented times. That Senator Kamala Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, adds another dimension to this moment.”

South Asians for Biden has selected Sanjeev Joshipura to serve as the Director for the Indians for Biden National Council. “We are on the cusp of a historic moment with the election of a ticket that features a Black and Indian American woman,” said Joshipura. “It’s up to us to educate and mobilize the community because the Indian American community’s future hinges upon this election.”

Joshipura added that the Council intends to seize on this historic moment by “working to educate community members about Biden’s long history of supporting India and the Indian American community, as well as educating voters of Senator Harris’s illustrious career in public service, and highlighting Harris’s Indian heritage.”

The Indians for Biden National Council will announce key team members in the coming weeks as the group ramps up its efforts to help Joe Biden and Kamala Harris defeat Donald Trump. To register for the Indian Independence Day event featuring remarks from Biden, please visit: http://joe.link/Aug15

South Asians for Biden is a national, grassroots organization that is dedicated to engaging, educating, and mobilizing the South Asian community to help to elect Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.

The council intends to seize on this historic moment by “working to educate community members about Biden”s long history of supporting India and the Indian American community, as well as educating voters of Senator Harris” illustrious career in public service,” Joshipura said.

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) congratulated Harris on being the first woman of colour as a vice presidential pick on a major party”s ticket.

The senator from California”s Asian American and Black heritage makes her nomination a milestone for both Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the African-American communities, it said.

“Senator Harris” achievement highlights the very mission of APAICS in promoting representation of AAPIs in all levels of government,” said Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, president and CEO of APAICS.

“As a national non-partisan, non-profit, we believe in community-wide participation of AAPIs in the electoral process as voters and as candidates. Senator Harris” historic achievement has already inspired and excited the AAPI community,” she said.

South Asian Bar Association, North America, in a statement, congratulated Harris on her historic nomination. Harris had delivered the keynote address at SABA”s annual conference in 2007 and 2013.

Meanwhile, Sampat Shivangi, national president of Indian American Forum for Political Education, said Harris is a great choice for the Democratic Party under the circumstances.  He said the Democrats needed an African-American or minority group member, or at least a woman candidate for the vice president nomination.  Shinvangi said Harris ticks all the boxes and she also has tremendous fund raising capabilities and a strong administrative background.

“In reality she is not an Indian-American, neither she claims to be one. She claims to be African-American or black American as her father is Jamaican and that counts legally,” said Shivangi, who has been elected as a delegate to the Republican National Convention for the fifth consecutive time. “She always said that she is black American or origin from the Caribbean as you have 15 to 18 percent vote bank in the USA, compared to 2.5 million Indians or nearly 1.1 per cent of the American vote. She has always said she is Baptist and African to, possibly, garner those votes,” Shivangi said.

According to Shivangi, Harris as vice presidential nominee will split votes of the Indian Americans. “Some Indian Americans will have a tough decision to make as their loyalty may be towards a so-called candidate of Indian heritage or a candidate of pro-Indian stance such as President Donald Trump,” he said. “Definitely many Indians are wary about the fact that both Biden and Harris have questioned the legitimacy of India passing Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests. Both do not have affinity towards India unlike President Trump. Indians are right in saying that Biden is not tougher on China as well,” Shivangi said.

Joe Biden’s Agenda for the Indian American Community

As Senator, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and as Vice President, Joe Biden has supported Indian Americans and a strong friendship between India and the United States. Diverse and vibrant communities of Indian Americans enrich the fabric of our nation in every state of the union. As President, Biden will work in partnership with these communities; celebrate their extraordinary contributions to America’s success, prosperity, and safety; listen to Indian Americans’ needs; and put in place policies that address their priorities. Indian Americans, like all Americans, are deeply invested in the core elements of our future — education, access to high-quality, affordable health care, addressing the climate crisis, and reforming and modernizing our immigration system in a way that aligns with our values.

 

Biden will ensure that South Asian Americans are represented in his administration, starting with his Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, whose mother emigrated from India to study and build a life in the United States. Our government will reflect the diversity of the United States, and Indian American voices will be included in shaping the policies that impact their communities.
 
From fighting COVID-19 to building our economy back better to reforming our system of immigration, a Biden-Harris Administration will be one that Indian Americans can count on. 
 
Stem the Rising Tide of Hate and Bigotry
 
Since Donald Trump took office, the number of hate crimes that take place across our country has greatly increased, according to the FBI’s hate crime statistics. We have a President who, in clear language and in code, encourages and emboldens prejudice and hatred — and that’s dangerous. 
 
Indian Americans of all backgrounds — Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Jain, and others — have been subjected to bullying and xenophobic attacks and need now, more than ever, a reassurance that our leaders in Washington will have their backs.
 
During the Obama-Biden Administration, the FBI expanded its hate crime statistics program to include Sikhs, Hindus, and Buddhists. As President, Biden will directly address the rise in hateful attacks and enact legislation prohibiting someone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing or possessing a firearm. Biden will appoint leaders at the Department of Justice who will prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes, and he will order his Justice Department to focus additional resources to combat hate crimes — including religion-based hate crimes — and to confront white nationalist terrorism. He will also seek legislation that increases the potential sentence for certain hate crimes that occur in houses of worship and other religious community sites, such as gurudwaras, mandirs, temples, and mosques. And, he will use his executive power to ensure that the Department of Justice pursues such heinous acts of violence against houses of worship to the fullest extent of the law.
 
Address the Security Needs of Houses of Worship
 
In 2012, the Sikh community suffered a terrible tragedy when a white supremacist opened fire in an Oak Creek, Wisconsin, gurdwara, ultimately killing seven and wounding four. In January 2019, a Hindu mandir was the victim of a horrific act of vandalism and destruction, with windows shattered and xenophobic messages spray-painted across the walls. A murti (sacred image) was defaced and a knife was stabbed into a chair. Biden understands that mandirs, mosques, gurudwaras, and temples are sacred spaces and that acts of vandalism and destruction gnaw at a community’s sense of belonging and undermine its ability to freely and safely worship. America was built on a foundation of religious freedom and, as President, Biden will redouble our efforts to end hate-filled acts of violence and intimidation and help us to reach our highest values. He will also ensure that places of worship have access to robust and direct security support from the federal government. We cannot leave our faith-based organizations to rely on donations and internal fundraising efforts to guard against deadly attacks. Biden will work with Congress to attain an immediate and substantial increase in direct security grant funding to faith-based organizations through the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
 
Restore the American Dream for all Americans
 
Biden is running for President to rebuild the backbone of America — the middle class — and make sure that this time everyone comes along. He knows that the middle class isn’t a number — it’s a set of values: owning your home, sending your kids to college, being able to save and get ahead. He will ensure all workers are treated with dignity, and receive the pay, benefits, and workplace protections they deserve. Biden is committed to a stronger, more inclusive middle class. Many Indian Americans are small business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Biden will spur public-private investment through a small business opportunity plan that will fund successful state and local investment initiatives and make permanent the highly effective New Markets Tax Credit, expand access to low-interest business loans, and eliminate barriers to technical assistance and advisory services by investing in a national network of cost-free business incubators and innovation hubs.   

Secure our Values as a Nation of Immigrants
 
As a largely immigrant community, but in some cases with American roots reaching back generations, Indian Americans know firsthand the strength and resilience that immigrants bring to the United States of America. But President Trump has waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants. It’s wrong, and it stops when Biden is president. Biden will rescind Trump’s “Muslim ban” on day one and reverse the detrimental asylum policies that are causing chaos and a humanitarian crisis at our border. He will immediately begin working with Congress to pass legislative immigration reform that modernizes our system, with a priority on keeping families together by providing a roadmap to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants — including more than 500,000 from India.
 
Biden will support family-based immigration and preserve family unification as a core principle of our immigration system, which includes reducing the family visa backlog. He will increase the number of visas offered for permanent, work-based immigration based on macroeconomic conditions and exempt from any cap recent graduates of PhD programs in STEM fields. And, he will support first reforming the temporary visa system for high-skill, specialty jobs to protect wages and workers, then expanding the number of visas offered and eliminating the limits on employment-based green cards by country, which have kept so many Indian families in waiting for too long.

Biden will restore and defend the naturalization process for green card holders. And, he will increase the number of refugees we welcome into this country by setting the annual global refugee admissions target to 125,000 and seek to raise it over time commensurate with our responsibility, our values, and the unprecedented global need. He will also work with Congress to establish a minimum admissions number of 95,000 refugees annually. Biden will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program and explore all legal options to protect their families from inhumane separation. And, he will end workplace raids and protect other sensitive locations from immigration enforcement actions. No one should be afraid to seek medical attention, or go to school, their job, or their place of worship for fear of an immigration enforcement action.

Streamline Processing for Religious Worker Visas
 
Many Indian Americans belong to faith communities that rely on the counsel, support, and wisdom of scholars and religious specialists, who may be foreign nationals travelling to the United States on a temporary religious worker (R-1) visa. For many Indian American organizations, the submission and review process for religious worker visas requires substantial administrative and financial resources. Moreover, processing times can result in travel delays, which adversely impact these communities across the country. Biden will direct the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to identify methods and programs for streamlining the review of religious worker visas submitted by any faith-based organizations with a reliable track record of faithfully utilizing the religious worker visa program.
 
Eliminate Language Barriers for the Indian American Community
 
Language barriers to vital services and resources can prevent limited English proficient Indian Americans from realizing their potential and the American Dream. Biden will work to ensure that individuals who are limited English proficient have access to health care and other government services and identify ways to increase access to federal programs for Indian American individuals and families. He will also create neighborhood resource centers or welcome centers to help new immigrants find jobs; access services and English-language learning opportunities; and navigate the school system, health care system, and other important facets of daily life. And, he will work to ensure that all public schools have sufficient English-language learning support to help all children reach their potential.
 
Honor the Diversity and Contributions of Indian Americans
 
The Obama-Biden Administration respected and celebrated America’s diversity as an essential strength, including hosting the first White House event to honor the military service of Indian Americans and celebrations of Diwali at the White House, the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory, and at the Pentagon. A Biden Administration will once more recognize and honor important cultural celebrations of American faith and heritage communities. The Obama-Biden Administration also made history by changing U.S. Army policy to allow observant Sikhs, as well as Muslim women, to wear religious head coverings while in uniform, so that our brave soldiers could both honor their faith and serve their country. Biden will seek to ensure reasonable religious accommodations across all our armed services. And, he will nominate and appoint federal officials and judges who look like America, including from the Indian American community. Biden will bring key stakeholders to the table to ensure that the communities of those impacted by policies are an essential part of the decision-making process. 
 
Create a Safe Environment in School for All Children
 
Every child should receive a good education, no matter their zip code, their gender, their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, their religion, whether they have a disability, or their parents’ income. Biden will ensure that educators are equipped with the support, dignity, and pay that they need and deserve so that students can grow into physically and emotionally healthy adults. He will support passage of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, which requires school districts to develop bullying and harassment policies, and he will double the number of psychologists, counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in our schools so that all of our kids get the mental health care they need.
 
The Biden Administration will also allocate additional funding for the Department of Justice and Department of Education for anti-bullying initiatives, including programs specifically opposing the bullying of religious youth. He will also re-establish the Obama-Biden White House AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force with community organizations.
 
Biden will also invest in educator mentoring, leadership, and additional education, so that educators can focus their energy on shaping the next generation of Americans. He will triple Title I funding to eliminate the funding gap between high- and low-income school districts, make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000, as well as ensure that everyone has access to two years of community college or other high-quality training without debt to improve student success and grow a more prosperous middle class.
 
Support the U.S.-India Partnership
 
Biden played a lead role, both as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as Vice President, in systematically deepening our strategic engagement, people-to-people ties, and collaboration with India on global challenges. In 2006, Biden announced his vision for the future of U.S.-India relations: “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.” He has also worked to make that vision a reality, including leading the charge in Congress, working with Democrats and Republicans, to approve the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008.   
 
The Obama-Biden Administration continued to deepen collaboration between India and the United States on strategic, defense, economic, regional, and global challenges. Biden was a major champion of growing and expanding the U.S.-India partnership. Recognizing India’s growing role on the world stage, the Obama-Biden Administration formally declared U.S. support for India’s membership in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council. The Obama-Biden Administration also named India a “Major Defense Partner” – a status approved by the Congress – to ensure that when it comes to the advanced and sensitive technology that India needs to strengthen its military, India is treated on par with our closest partners. 
 
President Obama and Vice President Biden also strengthened our cooperation with India to fight terrorism in each of our countries and across the region. Biden believes there can be no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia – cross-border or otherwise. A Biden Administration will also work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbors with impunity. 
 
The Obama-Biden Administration worked closely with India to secure the successful signing of the Paris Climate Agreement to address the global climate crisis that threatens all our peoples. A Biden Administration would bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement, giving us the ability to again work closely with India to fight climate change and once more work hand in hand to reduce our carbon emissions and secure our clean energy future, without which we cannot build the green economy we need. 
 
Biden will deliver on his long-standing belief that India and the United States are natural partners, and a Biden Administration will place a high priority on continuing to strengthen the U.S.-India relationship. No common global challenge can be solved without India and the United States working as responsible partners. Together, we will continue strengthening India’s defense and capabilities as a counter-terrorism partner, improving health systems and pandemic response, and deepening cooperation in areas such as higher education, space exploration, and humanitarian relief. 
 
As the world’s oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India are bound together by our shared democratic values: fair and free elections, equality under the law, and the freedom of expression and religion. These core principles have endured throughout each of our nations’ histories and will continue to be the source of our strength in the future.

 

Kamala Harris Is Joe Biden’s Running Mate In 2020 US Election

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has named Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate – the first black woman and Asian American in the role. After months of speculation and a seemingly endless cast of candidates through the revolving door, rhe former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden, has announced that his running mate will be the US senator from California.

Harris, 55, becomes the first Black woman on a major presidential ticket in U.S. history and providing him with a partner well suited to go on the attack against Republican President Donald Trump. Harris, a former prosecutor and state attorney general in California, is well known for her sometimes aggressive questioning style in the Senate, most notably of Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate,” Biden said on Twitter.

With social unrest over racial injustice and police brutality against Black Americans rocking the country for months, Biden had been under increasing pressure to select a woman of color as his running mate. Harris is also the first Asian-American on a major presidential ticket.

In Harris, a senator from California who made her own run for the White House before ending it and endorsing Biden, he gains a deeply experienced politician already battle-tested by the rigors of the 2020 presidential campaign as they head into the final stretch of the Nov. 3 election.

Harris, who became only the Senate’s second Black woman in its history when she was elected in 2016, will be relied on to help drive the African-American vote – the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency. Four years ago, the first dip in Black voter turnout in 20 years contributed to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s upset loss to Trump. Biden served as vice president for eight years under President Barack Obama, the first Black U.S. president.

As a presidential candidate, she also took Biden to task in a nationally televised debate over his past stances on mandatory busing for students as a means to desegregate schools. Some Biden advisers have told Reuters the attacks made them question whether she would be a trusted working partner because of her political ambitions.

While that exchange failed to boost her White House hopes, the Biden campaign will now look for her to train her prosecutorial fire on Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Harris is scheduled to debate Pence on Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The choice of a running mate has added significance for Biden, who will turn 78 in November and be the oldest person to become president if he is elected. Biden’s age also has led to broad speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024. Some of his allies were concerned that would make her a bad fit for the No.2 job and questioned her loyalty.

Biden publicly committed to choosing a woman as his No. 2 in a March debate after discussing the matter with his wife Jill and had considered other former presidential rivals such as Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

Harris has become a key ally for Biden at a time when race has been thrust to the forefront of the campaign. Her defenders say she has always been reform-minded – and point to her record in the Senate, where she has championed a police-reform bill and an anti-lynching bill, among other measures. Harris herself has said she became a prosecutor in order to bring a more progressive approach to the office.

The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris has knocked down barriers throughout her career. She was the first woman to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney, elected to that office in 2003, and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general, elected to that office in 2010.

Biden considered several Black women in addition to Harris, including former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and U.S. Representative Val Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Florida. Biden also considered Asian-American Senator Tammy Duckworth and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina.

Historically, the vice presidential nominee has been the one to take the lead in criticizing the opposing ticket, although Trump has largely shredded that tradition. Brian Brokaw, a California political consultant who managed Harris’ campaigns for attorney general and Senate, said Harris fits that role well. “She is someone who can really make Republicans quake in their boots,” Brokaw said.

A woman of color has never been appointed to a presidential ticket by either of the two main American political parties. No woman has won the US presidency either. Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates – Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither made it to the White House.

Former US President Barack Obama – whom Mr Biden served as vice-president for eight years – tweeted: “She is more than prepared for the job. She’s spent her career defending our Constitution and fighting for folks who need a fair shake.  “This is a good day for our country. Now let’s go win this thing.”

Harris will debate Trump’s running mate, Vice-President Mike Pence, on  October 7th in Salt Lake City, Utah. Harris will be confirmed as Biden’s running mate at the Democratic convention that begins on Monday, August 17th, where Biden will also be formally nominated to challenge Trump.

Indian Americans have a stake in the Biden VP pick

It’s Harris’s potential ability to get moderates, independents and even some in the center-right, to cross over and vote for Biden. On some important issues to moderates, she’s resisted the urge to move to the far left. While she initially stumbled toward the right answer, she eventually got there on abolishing private health insurance, saying her health plan wouldn’t go that far.

She’s also said she wants to reorder Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), but not abolish it entirely, another issue that matters to some moderates.

She’s stopped short of saying we should defund the police, instead saying we should reimagine the way we allocate our funds to communities.  On guns, another polarizing issue, Harris would ban imports of so-called assault weapons, but has not said the ban would extend to existing ones.

Harris came out aggressively against Trump’s tariffs and trade war with China, policies that a wide swath of voters, including independents, disapprove of.  To be sure, there’s plenty in Harris’s record for staunch conservatives to be squeamish about — she voted against a bill that would limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, to name just one thing.

The California Democrat was born in Oakland, California, to two immigrant parents: an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father.  After her parent’s divorce, Harris was raised primarily by her Hindu single mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist.

She grew up engaged with her Indian heritage, joining her mother on visits to India, but Harris has said that her mother adopted Oakland’s black culture, immersing her two daughters – Kamala and her younger sister Maya – within it.  “My mother understood very well that she was raising two black daughters,” she wrote in her autobiography The Truths We Hold. “She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as black girls and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident, proud black women.”

Senator Harris’ early years also included a brief period in Canada. When Ms Gopalan Harris took a job teaching at McGill University, Ms Harris and her younger sister Maya went with her, attending school in Montreal for five years.

She attended college in the US, spending four years at Howard University, one of the nation’s preeminent historically black colleges and universities, which she has described as among the most formative experiences of her life.  Harris says she’s always been comfortable with her identity and simply describes herself as “an American”.

In 2019, she told the Washington Post that politicians should not have to fit into compartments because of their color or background. “My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it,” she said. After four years at Howard, Harris went on to earn her law degree at the University of California, Hastings, and began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

She became the district attorney – the top prosecutor – for San Francisco in 2003, before being elected the first woman and the first black person to serve as California’s attorney general, the top lawyer and law enforcement official in America’s most populous state.

In her nearly two terms in office as attorney general, Ms Harris gained a reputation as one of the Democratic party’s rising stars, using this momentum to propel her election as California’s junior US senator in 2017.

Since her election to the US Senate, the former prosecutor gained favour among progressives for her acerbic questioning of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General William Barr in key Senate hearings.

When she launched her candidacy for president to a crowd of more than 20,000 in Oakland, California, at the beginning of last year, her 2020 bid was met with initial enthusiasm. But the senator failed to articulate a clear rationale for her campaign, and gave muddled answers to questions in key policy areas like healthcare.

Harris has often said that her identity makes her uniquely suited to represent those on the margins. Now that Biden has named her as his running mate, she might get a chance to do just that from inside the White House.

As Tax Collector, TK Mathew Wants To Serve The People In Hillsborough County With Honesty & Integrity

Imbibed with the strong commitment “to serve the people in Hillsborough County as the Tax Collector with honesty & integrity,” TK Mathew, a 20-year veteran businessman who has lived in Hillsborough County since 1991, is seeking office for Hillsborough County Tax Collector.

Having worked in the office and having witnessed “inefficiency, unnecessary waste of tax payers time & money” at the County level, Mathew believes that those who live in Hillsborough County pay for top-quality service and they deserve to get it. “I would like to increase the efficiency and transparency in government/especially Tax Collector’s office operations,” says the young Indian American candidate who is running on a Republican Ticket.

Mathew’s message “to my fellow citizens is very simple: I’ll make our Tax Collector’s office the best in the country. I’ll save your money, time and I’ll protect your personal information from the cyber threats.”

Mathew has worked under Tax Collector Doug Belden and is familiar with the ins and outs of the Tax Collector’s office operations. He knows the issues and he knows how to fix it for the constituents of Hillsborough County. He understands the issues from a customer’s perspective, business owners’ perspectives and a bureaucrat’s perspective. These unique qualifications have prepared him to take on the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s services to the next level, with high efficiency and high quality in every aspect of the office’s operations making the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office the most modern, fast and efficient agency in America.

Mathew has the experience, the vision and the passion to realize his goal. “My experiences and exposure to private sector business is a valuable asset and I learned the issues of Tax Collector’s office while I had worked under the current Tax Collector and I know how the office functions and the ways to address the many challenges we face in providing the best services to the people of this great County.”

In addition, as the Tax Collector, Mathew plans to hire and train best qualified individuals to minimize wait times and provide quality customer service. He wants to implement better employee training techniques including quarterly training sessions to all employees on customer relations and interaction. “I would like to offer a better salary & benefits package which is equal to or better than the private sector employers for similar work because our employees deserve better and our citizens need quality customer service too,” he says.

A visionary, Mathew hopes to work with other agencies within the Hillsborough county government to open satellite offices in different parts of the County. He also intends to provide Hillsborough county’s almost 100,000 veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers with expedited service as a thank you for their service to our fellow citizens and to our County.

Recognizing the difficult phase in history the US is going through, Mathew says, “It’s very unfortunate, that a few people are taking advantage of the situation. We should look in to the facts behind it and expose the truth to stop spreading the hatred.” 

Mathew has been very active in the local community and has supported several charity related activities. Mathew dedicated two years of his life at the service of the needy working abroad on charitable missions.

It’s been a long journey for Mathew in being nominated to be the GOP candidate in Hillsborough County. Says, “Florida is a very important state for the Republican Party, especially the Hillsborough County. It’s a very competitive landscape. The GOP leadership “recognized my leadership, energy and capacity to bring people together to vote and support the Party as we enter into the final days of the most important election in our life time. The party recognizes my unique experiences as an advantage and I’m well qualified to bring in unique leadership which is necessary to bring everybody together and achieve my goal of serving our citizens.”

Mathew has the support of the entire Party. Senator Joe Gruters, from the state of Florida has endorsed Mathew and has congratulated him, offering the help & support from the Republican party of Florida. Chairman of the Florida Republican Party, and a member of the Florida Senate, Gruters co-chaired the campaign for President Trump in Florida and has served as the co-chairman of the 2016 Republican National Committee.

Mathew is the only Republican Party nominee for the Tax Collector. With no opponent from the Party, Mathew will not need to fight in the Primary. Mathew will be facing the winner from the Democratic Party Primary, who are on the ballot: April Griffin (D) and Nancy C. Millan (D).

A person with deep faith in God and with strong values and traditions, Mathew has been married for 15 years and the couple are blessed with two sons.

Mathew is of the opinion that the “elected officials are called to utilizing the technology, opportunities and all available resources as per the needs of the community we are called to serve.”  Mathew believes, he is “the best qualified person ever to run for this office because of his experience with both government sector and private sector experiences along with domestic and international exposure with people from different background and cultures.”

Indian Americans More Active in 2020 Election Cycle

Indian Americans are a sliver of the nation’s population and a growing political force. Indian Americans represent just over 1% of the U.S. population. In recent years, they have grown increasingly politically active, donating more to candidates and running for office. Reflecting the community’s leftward tilt, two-thirds of the more than $3 million donated throughout the 2020 election cycle has gone to Democrats, according to a Times analysis of fundraising reports released July 15.

Indian Americans have also donated more than $1 million to committees supporting President Trump. The incumbent has the benefit of being able to accept six-figure checks into a joint fundraising committee with the national and state Republican parties. The Democratic candidates are limited to donations of up to $2,800 for the primary and $2,800 for the general election.

On the Democratic side, they are largely split among three candidates who have ties to their community: Sen. Kamala Harris of California, whose mother was born in India; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a practicing Hindu; and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who counts a large Indian American population among his constituents. They are only a few of the many candidates who seek and find support amon the wealthy Indian American groups supporting bothe the major parties in the 2020 election cycle.

An Indian-American political group has planned to spend $10 million for the 2020 elections aimed at helping more members of the community win political office from Congress down to school boards, a media report said.

“This is a pivotal moment for our community and our country,” The American Bazaar reported on Wednesday citing advocacy group Impact’s new executive director, Neil Makhija, a public interest lawyer son of Indian immigrants, as saying.

The group’s efforts would be focused on recruiting, training and supporting candidates, and though it is not explicitly aligned with Democrats the group’s “values certainly lean that way”, he told the media.

“After significant gains in previous election cycles, Indian-Americans are poised to assert our emerging power by electing more Indian-American candidates at every level of government, and by supporting excellent candidates of all backgrounds who share our ideals of inclusivity, equity, and civil rights,” Makhija added.

According to the research firm CRW Strategy, over three-quarters of Indian-American voters supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Makhija said they were also likely to support presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this November. In a nod to the community’s growing political clout, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running an ad in Hindi, the main Indian language.

The lone Indian American Senator Kamala Harris, who has emerged as a leading contender to be Biden’s running mate welcomed the Impact announcement. “I’m excited about the Indian-American community’s growing engagement in the political process — not just as an Indian-American, but as someone who believes the more Americans of all ethnicities and backgrounds feel ownership in our democracy, the stronger our democracy will be,” Harris was quoted as saying in the American Bazaar report.

“As Impact moves to its next phase of leadership, I look forward to being joined in the Capitol by even more Indian Americans to move our country forward for everyone,” she said

A leading Indian-American political organization has hired a new executive director as it heads into the Nov. 3, 2020 elections with the goal of further boosting the community’s presence in public offices up and down the ballot. IMPACT announced the hiring of Neil Makhija, a public interest lawyer, law school professor and former candidate for Pennsylvania state legislature in 2016, as its head July 28, 2020. The organization also announced a $10 million commitment to support Indian American candidates nationwide, as well as plans to create a new program to identify, elevate, and support Indian American elected officials running for higher office.

Indian-Americans traditionally tend to vote Democratic, as do most other minority, newly immigrant communities, including the Jewish community. They feel more comfortable in the politics of inclusion and diversity advocated by the Democrats, in contrast with the majoritarian Republican approach. However, many Indian-Americans, once they have flourished economically, become Republican supporters, attracted by its espousal of lower taxes. Eventually, according to post poll data, around 80% of Indian-American votes went to the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

If Sen. Kamala Harris is presidential candidate Joe Biden’s choice for vice president, or even just for Biden’s candidacy, Makhija said he was looking to hold a national event “to galvanize the community and show we are there.” The Indian-American community has seen what can happen when they have representation.

“We’ve seen what our leaders can do and the huge inspiration they are. People like (Congressmen) Raja Krishnamoorthi in the Intelligence and Oversight committees; Ro Khanna as Senator Sander’s campaign manager… People have more role models to look up to,” he said.

In 2020, more opportunities are before Indian-Americans, such as those running for statewide offices, Srinivas Preston Kulkarni running for the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas District 22; Sara Gideon, speaker of the Maine lower house, who is challenging long time Republican incumbent Susan Collins; Nina Ahmad vying for Auditor General of Pennsylvania; and Ronnie Chatterjee in the running for Treasurer of North Carolina. “These are tough races and we want to get behind these candidates and get the people behind them,” Makhija said.

All of these developments have come less than 75 years since South Asians began emigrating to the U.S., and 55 years after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended discriminatory quotas and opened the doors to Asian immigrants, IMPACT noted.

“I’m excited about the Indian-American community’s growing engagement in the political process — not just as an Indian American, but as someone who believes the more Americans of all ethnicities and backgrounds feel ownership in our democracy, the stronger our democracy will be,” Sen. Harris is quoted saying in the IMPACT press release.  “As IMPACT moves to its next phase of leadership, I look forward to being joined in the Capitol by even more Indian Americans to move our country forward for everyone,” Harris added.

“This is a pivotal moment for our community and our country,” said Makhija. “After significant gains in previous election cycles, Indian Americans are poised to assert our emerging power by electing more Indian American candidates at every level of government, and by supporting excellent candidates of all backgrounds who share our ideals of inclusivity, equity, and civil rights.”

 “We’ve seen Indian American engagement grow from a community on the margins of American politics to a burgeoning force,” said investor Deepak Raj and Raj Goyle, co-founders of IMPACT. “We’re thrilled to have Neil lead IMPACT into the next chapter of growth and scaling Indian American political power.”

A veteran community leader, Dr. Sampat Shivangi has been recently appointed to Donald J Trump for President Inc Coalition Advisory Board. “I am honored that President Donald Trump
appointed  me as a member to his top board “ Donald J Trump for President,Inc Coalition Advisory Board,” said Dr. Shivangi. “It has been added honor as I am already elected as a National delegate for the upcoming Republican Party Convention which will be virtual this time due to pandemic. I am proud to serve as a National delegate for the fifth time consecutively a unique distinction for an INDIAN American to be delegate at President George W Bush convention in New York in 2004, Senator John McCain in Minneapolis in 2008, Governor Romney in 2012 in Tampa Fl, and 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio to nominate President Donald J Trump. President Trump has been great friend of India a first President to attend Prime Minister Modiji HowdyModi rally in Houston, Tx and his visit to India to show his solidarity with INDIA and people of India.”“By organizing to win elected office, Indian-Americans are infusing politics with new experiences, ideas, and global connections,” said Nikil Saval, State Senator-elect in Philadelphia and the first Indian American elected to the Pennsylvania legislature. “Though our history in the United States dates to the early 20th century, and the first Indian-American elected to Congress (Dalip Singh Saund) served in the 1950s, the last decade has seen our ranks grow up and down the ballot,” Saval noted, adding, “I’m thrilled to see IMPACT expand its efforts to improve Indian-American representation, as part of a broader fight to bring more people of color to bear on the American politics.”

Seeing Defeat in 2020, Trump Calls to Postpone Presidential Election

With all major opinion polls showing that Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump in the upcoming Presidential election, US President Donald Trump has sought that the presidential polls in November be postponed till people can “properly, securely and safely” cast their votes. Trump, who will be seeking re-election against Democrat rival Joe Biden, alleged increased postal voting, due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, could lead to fraud and inaccurate results.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” he said in a series of tweets.

He also claimed that mail-in voting, as it is known in the US, would be susceptible to foreign interference. “The Dems talk of foreign influence in voting, but they know that Mail-In Voting is an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race,” he said.

Trump also claimed that postal voting was “already proving to be a catastrophic disaster” in areas where it was being tried out. Several US states want to make postal voting easier due to public health concerns.

Trump has refused to back down from his suggestion that the November general election be postponed, repeating unsubstantiated predictions of widespread voter fraud amid the coronavirus pandemic and saying that large numbers of mail-in ballots might mean “you never even know who won the election.”

“I don’t want to see an election — you know, so many years I’ve been watching elections,” Trump added. “And they say the projected winner or the winner of the election. I don’t want to see that take place in a week after Nov. 3 or a month or, frankly, with litigation and everything else that could happen, in years, years, or you never even know who won the election.”

Universal mail-in voting refers to a practice where states automatically mail a ballot to all registered voters within the state — a ballot that can then be cast by mail or returned in-person to various polling sites. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, seven states — California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, and Washington — are vote-by-mail states.

Vote-by-mail is not a new practice. Oregon became the first state to adopt this practice in 2000. Since then, the state has provided over 100 million mail-in ballots to voters since 2000. It has only documented 12 cases of fraud.

Trump does not have the power to reschedule voting. Election dates are set by statute dating to 1845, and no U.S. presidential election has ever been postponed. Trump’s call for a delay is an outrageous break with American faith in democracy.

This year won’t be the first time Americans have voted amid disruption and crisis. U.S. democracy has functioned through wars and previous public health emergencies, as history shows. A trio of federal laws set Election Day for presidential electorssenators, and US representatives as “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November.” If Republicans want to change this law, they would need to go through the Democratic House.

The 20th Amendment, moreover, provides that “the terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.” Thus, even if the election were somehow canceled, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s terms would still expire as scheduled — although, as explained below, the question of who would succeed them is devilishly complicated.

Congress has set the date of House and Senate elections for “the Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November.” Neither Trump nor any state official has the power to alter this date. Only a subsequent act of Congress could do so.

The picture for presidential elections is slightly more complicated. A federal statute does provide that “the electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November,” so states must choose members of the Electoral College on the same day as a congressional election takes place.

The thing that could threaten Biden’s potential presidency — and the ability of the country to move on from what will be one of the nastiest elections in modern history — is if Trump simply refuses to admit he lost, never conceding that Biden is the fair-and-square president.
And that, judging by Trump’s long history of refusing to ever acknowledge defeat, and instead claiming he was cheated out of victory by nefarious forces, is not only a possible outcome but a likely one if the incumbent comes up short this fall.

Joe Biden said that he believes if President Donald Trump loses the election and refuses to leave the White House, many of the former generals who used to work for him “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”
The president’s extraordinary proposal, which he is not constitutionally empowered to enforce, represented another attempt by Trump at floating a suspension of the election less than 100 days away.

Indian Billionaires Take Lead In Coronavirus Vaccine Investments

The world’s largest vaccine producer, the Serum Institute, announced a plan to make hundreds of millions of doses of an unproven inoculation. It’s a gamble with a huge upside. And huge risks.In early May, an extremely well-sealed steel box arrived at the cold room of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker.

Inside, packed in dry ice, sat a tiny 1-milliliter vial from Oxford, England, containing the cellular material for one of the world’s most promising coronavirus vaccines. Scientists in white lab coats brought the vial to Building 14, carefully poured the contents into a flask, added a medium of vitamins and sugar and began growing billions of cells. Thus began one of the biggest gambles yet in the quest to find the vaccine that will bring the world’s Covid-19 nightmare to an end.

The Serum Institute, which is exclusively controlled by a small and fabulously rich Indian family and started out years ago as a horse farm, is doing what a few other companies in the race for a vaccine are doing: mass-producing hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine candidate that is still in trials and might not even work.

But if it does, Adar Poonawalla, Serum’s chief executive and the only child of the company’s founder, will become one of the most tugged-at men in the world. He will have on hand what everyone wants, possibly in greater quantities before anyone else.

His company, which has teamed up with the Oxford scientists developing the vaccine, was one of the first to boldly announce, in April, that it was going to mass-produce a vaccine before clinical trials even ended. Now, Mr. Poonawalla’s fastest vaccine assembly lines are being readied to crank out 500 doses each minute, and his phone rings endlessly.

National health ministers, prime ministers and other heads of state (he wouldn’t say who) and friends he hasn’t heard from in years have been calling him, he said, begging for the first batches. “I’ve had to explain to them that, ‘Look I can’t just give it to you like this,’” he said.

Adar Poonawalla, Serum’s chief executive, says that he will split the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses he produces 50-50 between India and the rest of the world.Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

With the coronavirus pandemic turning the world upside down and all hopes pinned on a vaccine, the Serum Institute finds itself in the middle of an extremely competitive and murky endeavor. To get the vaccine out as soon as possible, vaccine developers say they need Serum’s mammoth assembly lines — each year, it churns out 1.5 billion doses of other vaccines, mostly for poor countries, more than any other company. Half of the world’s children have been vaccinated with Serum’s products. Scale is its specialty. Just the other day, Mr. Poonawalla received a shipment of 600 million glass vials.

But right now it’s not entirely clear how much of the coronavirus vaccine that Serum will mass-produce will be kept by India or who will fund its production, leaving the Poonawallas to navigate a torrent of cross-pressures, political, financial, external and domestic.

India has been walloped by the coronavirus, and with 1.3 billion people, it needs vaccine doses as much as anywhere. It’s also led by a highly nationalistic prime minister, Narendra Modi, whose government has already blocked exports of drugs that were believed to help treat Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Adar Poonawalla, 39, says that he will split the hundreds of millions of vaccine doses he produces 50-50 between India and the rest of the world, with a focus on poorer countries, and that Mr. Modi’s government has not objected to this. But he added, “Look, they may still invoke some kind of emergency if they deem fit or if they want to.”

The Oxford-designed vaccine is just one of several promising contenders that will soon be mass-produced, in different factories around the world, before they are proven to work. Vaccines take time not just to perfect but to manufacture. Live cultures need weeks to grow inside bioreactors, for instance, and each vial needs to be carefully cleaned, filled, stoppered, sealed and packaged.

The idea is to conduct these two processes simultaneously and start production now, while the vaccines are still in trials, so that as soon as the trials are finished — at best within the next six months, though no one really knows — vaccine doses will be on hand, ready for a world desperate to protect itself.

American and European governments have committed billions of dollars to this effort, cutting deals with pharmaceutical giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Sanofi and AstraZeneca to speed up the development and production of select vaccine candidates in exchange for hundreds of millions of doses.

AstraZeneca is the lead partner with the Oxford scientists, and it has signed government contracts worth more than $1 billion to manufacture the vaccine for Europe, the United States and other markets. But it has allowed the Serum Institute to produce it as well. The difference, Mr. Poonawalla said, is that his company is shouldering the cost of production on its own.

But Serum is distinct from all other major vaccine producers in an important way. Like many highly successful Indian businesses, it is family-run. It can make decisions quickly and take big risks, like the one it’s about to, which could cost the family hundreds of millions of dollars.
Adar Poonawalla turned a vintage plane that no longer flies into an office suite on Serum’s campus in Pune. Mr. Poonawalla said he was “70 to 80 percent” sure the Oxford vaccine would work. But, he added, “I hope we don’t go in too deep.”

Unbeholden to shareholders, the Serum Institute is steered by only two men: Mr. Poonawalla and his father, Cyrus, a horse breeder turned billionaire. More than 50 years ago, the Serum Institute began as a shed on the family’s thoroughbred horse farm. The elder Poonawalla realized that instead of donating horses to a vaccine laboratory that needed horse serum — one way of producing vaccines is to inject horses with small amounts of toxins and then extract their antibody-rich blood serum — he could process the serum and make the vaccines himself.

He started with tetanus in 1967. Then snake bite antidotes. Then shots for tuberculosis, hepatitis, polio and the flu. From his stud farm in the fertile and pleasantly humid town of Pune, Mr. Poonawalla built a vaccine empire, and a staggering fortune.

Capitalizing on India’s combination of cheap labor and advanced technology, the Serum Institute won contracts from Unicef, the Pan American Health Organization and scores of countries, many of them poor, to supply low-cost vaccines. The Poonawallas have now entered the pantheon of India’s richest families, worth more than $5 billion.

Horses are still everywhere. Live ones trot around emerald paddocks, topiary ones guard the front gates, and fancy glass ornaments frozen in mid-strut stand on the tabletop of Serum’s baronial boardroom overlooking its industrial park, where 5,000 people work.

Inside the facility producing the coronavirus vaccine candidate, white-hooded scientists monitor the vital signs of the bioreactors, huge stainless steel vats where the vaccine’s cellular material is reproduced. Visitors are not allowed inside but can peer through double-paned glass.
“These cells are very delicate,” said Santosh Narwade, a Serum scientist. “We have to take care with oxygen levels and mixing speed or the cells get ruptured.”

Do some people have protection against the coronavirus? By Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Andrea Kane, CNN

We’re now more than seven months into the coronavirus pandemic that has upended the lives of most of Earth’s inhabitants. And while it is true that the scientific community has learned many things about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, there are also many gaps in our understanding.

One big mystery: Why do some people get very sick and even die from their illness, while other similar people show no symptoms and may not realize they’ve been infected at all?

We know some of the big factors that put people at higher risk of having a severe, even fatal, course of disease: being over 60; being overweight or obese; having one or more chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney or lung disease, and cancer; and being a person of color — Black African American, Latino Latinx or Native American.

But might the opposite also be true: Could certain people actually have some type of protection? Looking to purchase your first bed-in-a-box mattress? Here’s exactly what to know before buying and a list of our top five mattress online delivery brands to try out now.

A recently published summary article in the journal Nature Reviews Immunology put forth a tantalizing possibility: A large percentage of the population appears to have immune cells that are able to recognize parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and that may possibly be giving them a head start in fighting off an infection. In other words, some people may have some unknown degree of protection.

“What we found is that people that had never been exposed to SARS Cov2 … about half of the people had some T-cell reactivity,” co-author of the paper Alessandro Sette from the Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccine Research at La Jolla Institute for Immunology, told CNN.

Immunology 101

To understand why that’s important, here’s a little crash course in immunology. The human immune system, which is tasked with keeping you healthy in the face of bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic and other invaders, has two main components: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.

The innate immune system is the very first line of defense. Parts of it include physical barriers like your skin and mucosal membranes, which physically stop invaders from getting in. It also includes certain cells, proteins and chemicals that do things like create inflammation and destroy invading cells.

Where the innate immune system is immediate and nonspecific (it tries to stop anything from entering the body), the adaptive immune system is targeted against a specific and previously recognized invader. This takes a bit longer to kick into gear.

The adaptive immune system includes a type of white blood cell, called a B cell, which patrols the body looking for bad guys. B cells each have a unique antibody that sits on its surface and can bind to a unique antigen (the technical name for the foreign invader) and stop it from entering a host cell. When it finds and binds to a bad guy, the B cell gets activated: it copies itself and churns out antibodies, eventually creating a mega-army of neutralizers for that particular invader.

That’s where antibodies created by the immune systems of people who’ve had Covid-19 come from. Unfortunately, a few recent studies have found that antibodies to this particular coronavirus can fade away pretty quickly especially in people who have had mild cases of Covid-19. This has worried many researchers: because the antibody response appears to fade quickly, the scientific community is not sure how long a person who has been infected with this virus will stay protected from a new infection. This is also worrisome since we are relying on vaccines to trigger an antibody response to help protect us, and we want that protection to last a long time.

Fortunately, antibodies aren’t the only weapon our adaptive immune system uses to stave off an infection. Enter the T cell. T cells, which come in three varieties, are created by the body after an infection to help with future infections from the same invader. One of those T cells helps the body remember that invader in case it comes knocking again, another hunts down and destroys infected host cells and a third helps out in other ways.

Accidental discovery

It’s T cells like those, which reacted to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, that Sette and his co-author Shane Crotty discovered — quite by accident — in the blood of people collected several years before this pandemic began.

They were running an experiment with Covid-19 convalescent blood. Because they needed a “negative control” to compare against the convalescent blood, they picked blood samples from healthy people collected in San Diego between 2015 and 2018.

Why some people who haven’t had Covid-19 might already have some immunity

“There was no way these people had been exposed to SARS-CoV2. And when we ran those … it turns out the negative control was not so negative: about half of the people had reactivity,” Sette explained.

“Shane and I pored over the data; we were looking at it from the right, from the left, from the top, from the bottom — and it was really ‘real’; this reactivity was real. So, this showed that people that have never seen this virus have some T-cell reactivity against the virus.”

“That has been now confirmed in different continents, different labs, with different techniques, which is one of the hallmarks of when you start to actually really believe that something is scientifically well-established because it’s found independently by different studies and different labs,” said Sette.

They speculate that this T cell recognition of parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus may come in part from past exposure to one of the four known circulating coronaviruses that cause the common cold in millions of people every year.

“The assumption is that’s actually coming from common cold coronaviruses that people have seen before, and Alex’s side was working really hard to actually figure that out, because that’s still scientifically a major debate,” said Crotty.

Friend or foe?

But many questions remain — including whether this recognition to parts of SARS-CoV-2 by T cells helps or hurts.

“Would these memory T cells be helpful for protecting you against Covid-19 disease, that’s the huge question,” said Crotty. “We don’t know if [the T cells] are helpful or not, but we think it’s reasonable to speculate that they may be helpful. It’s not that we think they would completely protect against any infection at all, but if you already have some cells around, they can fight the virus faster and so it’s plausible that instead of ending up in the ICU, you don’t. And instead of ending up in the hospital, you just end up with a bad cold.”

Other researchers are also intrigued by the possibilities put forth by this discovery. Dr. Arturo Casadevall told CNN his first thought was “Not surprising, important, good to know.” Casadevall chairs the department of molecular microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

“Because these coronaviruses are all related, given that every year we run into one of them, it’s not surprising that we have T cells that are reactive with them,” he said. But, like Sette and Crotty, he questions whether this reactivity is a good thing or a bad thing.

A few months ago, Casadevall explored the idea of why some people get sick and some don’t in an opinion piece he co-wrote for Bloomberg.com. “One of the variables is what we call the immunological history. All the things that you have run into in your life, all the vaccines, the colds, all the GI upsets, have created a background knowledge that can help you or hurt you,” explained Casadevall.

“One of the things we know about this disease is that what kills you is an over exuberant immune response, in the lung… So, when you say, ‘They have T-cell reactivity,’ well that could help in some people, it could hurt in others,” he said.

Casadevall speculates that some of the asymptomatic people may be able to rapidly clear the virus thanks to this T-cell reactivity. “At the same time, some of the very sick people have that immunological history that instead of helping them, makes the immune system throw everything at it, and the net result is that you get this over-exuberant response,” he said, referring to the cytokine storm that some of the sickest of the sick with Covid-19 experience.
Sette and Crotty are looking into that possibility. But they say the overreaction of the innate immune system, not overreacting T cells, appears to set off the cytokine storm. “The data are still somewhat preliminary, but I think it’s in that direction. Certainly, we have not seen an immune response related to T cells in overdrive in the very severe cases,” said Sette.

Big implications for vaccines

So, assuming that a large portion of the population has some kind of T-cell reactivity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, what does that mean for vaccine efforts?

There are several implications.

For Dr. Bruce Walker, an infectious disease physician-scientist who spends most of his time doing research in human immunology, it opens the door to a different type of vaccine, similar to the ones that are being used against certain cancers, like melanoma.

“What we know is that most vaccines that have been generated thus far have been based on generating antibodies. Now, antibodies should theoretically be able to prevent any cells from becoming infected — if you have enough antibodies around and any virus coming in, before it gets a chance to infect a cell, can be theoretically neutralized by the right kind of antibody,” explained Walker, who is the founding director of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard.

“On the other hand, if some viruses sneak through and infect a cell; then the body is dependent upon T cells to eliminate the virus,” he said. “And therein lies the opportunity for us to rethink what we’re doing in terms of vaccination — because those T cells, at least theoretically, could be highly potent and could attenuate the disease. In other words, they wouldn’t protect against infection, but they might make infections so asymptomatic that you would not notice it yourself and, in fact, you would never have enough virus in your body to transmit it to somebody else. That’s the hypothesis.”

Another implication is that the results of a small, Phase 1 vaccine trial could be misinterpreted in one way or another if the T-cell reactivity status of participants isn’t taken into account. “For example, if subjects with pre-existing reactivity were sorted unevenly in different vaccine dose groups, this might lead to erroneous conclusions,” Sette and Crotty wrote in their paper.

Furthermore, Sette said upcoming vaccine trials could help uncover the effect of this T-cell cross-reactivity a lot more cheaply and easily than running other experiments. “It is a conceivable that if you have 10 people that have reactivity and 10 people that don’t have the pre-existing reactivity and you vaccinate them with a SARS CoV-2 vaccine, the ones that have the pre-existing immunity will respond faster or better to a vaccine. The beauty of that is that that is a relatively fast study with a smaller number [of people] … So, we have been suggesting to anybody that is running vaccine trials to also measure T-cell response,” said Sette.

The herd (immunity) grows stronger

There are also implications for when we might achieve “herd immunity” — meaning that enough of the population is immune to SARS-CoV-2, thanks either to infection or vaccination, and the virus can no longer be as easily transmitted.

“For herd immunity, if indeed we have a very large proportion of the population already being immune in one way or another, through these cellular responses, they can count towards the pool that you need to establish herd immunity. If you have 50% already in a way immune, because of these existing immune responses, then you don’t need 60 to 80%, you need 10 to 30% — you have covered the 50% already. The implications of having some pre-existing immunity suggests that maybe you need a small proportion of the population to be impacted before the epidemic wave dies out,” said Dr. John Ioannidis, a professor of medicine and epidemiology and population health at Stanford University.

Killer T-cells can save us

In other words, if there is a level of herd immunity, that changes how fast the virus ripples through different communities and populations.

In fact, Sette and Crotty wrote in their paper, “It should be noted that if some degree of pre-existing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 exists in the general population, this could also influence epidemiological modelling …”

Crotty points to a SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology paper that appeared in the journal Science at the end of May that tried to model transmission of the virus going forward. “We thought it was really striking that a number of the major differences in their models really came down to immunity, one way or another,” he said.

For example, Crotty said when the authors added a hypothetical 30% immunity to their epidemiological model of how many cases there would be in the world over the next couple of years, the virus faded away in the near future before returning in three or four years.

More questions than answers for now

And that brings us to another question raised by Sette and Crotty’s paper: because the common circulating coronaviruses (CCC) appear in different places, at different times, could some countries, cities or localities be disproportionately affected (or spared) because the population had less exposure to those CCCs, thus creating less opportunity to develop cross-reactivity?

“If the pre-existing T-cell immunity is related to CCC exposure, it will become important to better understand the patterns of CCC exposure in space and time. It is well established that the four main CCCs are cyclical in their prevalence, following multiyear cycles, which can differ across geographical locations. This leads to the speculative hypothesis that differences in CCC geo-distribution might correlate with burden of COVID-19 disease severity,” Sette and Crotty wrote..

So, ultimately can it be said that some people have at least partial natural protection from SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, if they have T-cell cross-reactivity?
“The biggest problem is that everybody wants a simple answer,” said Johns Hopkins’ Casadevall. “What nobody wants to hear is that it’s unpredictable, because many variables play together in ways that you can’t put together: your history, your nutrition, how you got infected, how much [virus] you got — even the time of the day you got infected. And all these variables combine in ways that are unpredictable.”

US Immigration Fees Hiked 20%

The Department of Homeland Security announced a final rule that adjusts fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests to ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recovers its costs of services.

Unlike most government agencies, USCIS is fee funded. Fees collected and deposited into the Immigration Examinations Fee Account fund nearly 97% of USCIS’ budget.

As required by federal law, USCIS conducted a comprehensive biennial fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year.

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland and protect Americans.”

The rule accounts for increased costs to adjudicate immigration benefit requests, detect and deter immigration fraud, and thoroughly vet applicants, petitioners and beneficiaries. The rule also supports payroll, technology and operations to accomplish the USCIS mission. The rule removes certain fee exemptions, includes new nominal fees for asylum applicants, and reduces fee waivers to help recover the costs of adjudication.

This final rule also encourages online filing by providing a $10 reduction in the fee for applicants who submit forms online that are electronically available from USCIS. Online filing is the most secure, efficient, cost-effective and convenient way to submit a request with USCIS.

USCIS last updated its fee structure in December 2016 by a weighted average increase of 21%.

For a full list of changes and a complete table of final fees, see the final rule.
This final rule is effective Oct. 2, 2020. Any application, petition, or request postmarked on or after this date must include payment of the new, correct fees established by this final rule.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and LinkedIn (/uscis).

The US States With Travel Restrictions

With the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic in near constant fluctuation, state rules and regulations are having to adapt rapidly. For those planning a family vacation or simply wishing to travel to another state, it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest statewide regulations.

There are some states that do not have restrictions. For those that do, here is a list of what each state is mandating.

Alaska

Beginning on August 11, nonresidents have to arrive with a negative Covid-19 test that was administered 72 hours or less. There is one other testing option. Travelers who opt for testing five days or less before arrival must be retested at the airport and limit their interactions until the test returns negative.

All travelers also must complete a traveler declaration form and receive another Covid-19 test seven to 14 days after arriving in Alaska.

Travelers can opt out from taking Covid-19 tests, but they must self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter.

According to the CDC, “people in quarantine should stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department.” Leaving your home state to enter a state with a mandatory quarantine means you need one place to stay and to stay put.

Connecticut

Any traveler coming from a state that has a positive rate of 10 out of 100,000 people or a 10% or higher positivity rate must self-quarantine for 14 days. The traveler must have spent more than 24 hours in said state for the rule to apply. Everyone also needs to complete a travel health form.

Visitors can opt out of the 14-day quarantine if they can provide proof that they have had a negative Covid-19 test in the past 72 hours.

There are currently 34 states on the 10% or higher positivity list.

Florida

People traveling from Connecticut, New Jersey and New York are required to self-quarantine for 14 days once arriving in Florida. Some exceptions include those involved in commercial activity or for any academic purpose such as internships. Everyone is responsible for their own costs that are involved with quarantining.

Hawaii

Anyone traveling to Hawaii must quarantine for 14 days after their arrival. Beginning September 1, travelers can show proof of a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours to avoid the quarantine.
Hawaii delays quarantine lift until September 1
Upon arrival, passengers are required to sign a form saying that they know about the 14-day quarantine and that it is a criminal offense should they violate it.
For travel between islands, a mandatory form must be submitted online within 24 hours of departure. Passengers cannot fly if their temperature is above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Idaho

In Ada County, which includes Boise, travelers coming from outside Idaho are encouraged to quarantine for 14 days.

Illinois

There are no statewide restrictions, but a 14-day quarantine is required for visitors heading to Chicago from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah and Wisconsin.

Kansas

Travelers need to quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to Florida or been on a cruise. Travelers must also quarantine if they traveled to Arizona between June 17 and July 27 or if they’ve traveled to a country with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice With Restrictions. Some countries include the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and China.

Kentucky

Visitors from states with a coronavirus testing positivity rate of 15% or more must quarantine for 14 days. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Nevada, South Carolina and Texas.

Maine

Travelers must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or sign a form stating they’ve received a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont are exempt from quarantining or having a negative test.

Maryland

Maryland residents who travel out-of-state need to have received a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival or get tested as soon as they return. Nonresidents should be tested within 72 hours of arrival and quarantine until they receive a negative result. If their test is positive, it is recommended that they cancel their trip.

Any resident who travels outside of Maryland to a state with a coronavirus testing positivity rate of more than 10% needs to self-quarantine until a negative test result is received. The District of Columbia and Virginia are exempt from this rule. As of July 31, the states include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Texas.

Massachusetts

Beginning August 1, all visitors and residents must complete a travel form before arriving in Massachusetts (unless they are arriving from a state designated by the Department of Public Health as low risk).

Travelers must “quarantine for 14 days or produce a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to your arrival in Massachusetts.”

Those waiting on test results need to quarantine until they receive their negative results.
Failure to comply with these directives may result in a $500 fine.

New Hampshire

Those traveling from outside New England states (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) that are visiting for an extended period of time are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks.

New Jersey

All travelers to New Jersey from states that have a Covid-19 testing positivity rate of 10% or higher or have 10 people test positive for every 100,000 residents is asked to quarantine for 14 days. This rule does not apply for visitors spending less than 24 hours in the state.

The state government is also asking travelers to fill out a voluntary survey regarding information about where you are traveling and your destination.

As of July 31, there are 36 states and US jurisdictions on the list.

New Mexico

As of July 1, those traveling from out-of-state are required to self-quarantine for 14 days or the length of their stay in New Mexico, whichever is shorter.

New York

All travelers who have recently visited a state with a positive testing rate of 10% or higher over a seven-day rolling period or had a positive test rate of 10 or more per 100,000 residents must quarantine for 14 days.

There are 36 states currently on the list.
Those traveling by airplane must fill out a travel form before exiting the airport or face a fine of $2,000. Those traveling to New York through other methods such as cars and trains must fill out the form online.

Ohio

Travelers visiting Ohio from states reporting positive testing rates of 15% or more must self-quarantine for 14 days. As of July 29, the states currently include Arizona, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas and South Carolina.

Pennsylvania

Visitors traveling from states with a high number of Covid-19 cases are asked to quarantine for 14 days. As of July 24, they are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Rhode Island

Those traveling to Rhode Island from a state that has a positive testing rate of 5% or more must quarantine for 14 days. Travelers can opt out of the quarantine if they can provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of their arrival.

Those waiting on test results must self-quarantine until a negative test result arrives. However, the state still recommends quarantining for 14 days as opposed to relying on a negative test result.

South Carolina

Travelers who have visited an area with ongoing community spread of the coronavirus should quarantine for 14 days from when they left that area.

Vermont

Most travelers visiting Vermont must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

Any traveler traveling in a personal vehicle from a Northeast county that has less than 400 active cases of coronavirus per million people does not need to quarantine upon arrival.

Vermont is allowing visitors to self-quarantine before they travel as long as they use a personal vehicle to travel. They must make minimal stops and follow precautions such as wearing a face mask or covering, washing their hands and staying six feet apart. They must self-quarantine for 14 days or for seven days if they receive a negative test.

If travelers use public transportation such as an airplane or bus, they must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or for seven days followed by a negative Covid-19 test.

Washington, DC

Visitors traveling to or from a high-risk state must self-quarantine for 14 days. The restrictions exclude Virginia and Maryland.
There are currently 27 states on the list.

Wisconsin

There is no statewide quarantine mandate, but all visitors coming from elsewhere to Wisconsin are being asked to stay home as much as possible for 14 days upon arrival while checking for Covid-19 symptoms. Within Wisconsin, it is not recommended that people travel to other private or rental homes within the state.
(Courtesy: CNN.COM)

The Charter of the United Nations After 75 Years: Personal Reflections By Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf

The Charter of the United Nations is not only the constituent instrument of the United Nations as an organization. It is a multilateral legal manifesto encompassing a set of basic principles and norms aimed at ensuring peace, freedom, development, equality and human rights throughout the world. These principles and norms reflect the shared values proclaimed in the preamble on behalf of the “Peoples of the United Nations”. As such, it is the most innovative and trailblazing multilateral treaty ever concluded among States. Today, it is a universal instrument by which all States have solemnly accepted to be bound in their international relations.

In 1945, as nations emerged from a second world war in the span of 30 years, a fundamental choice had to be made by the States participating in the San Francisco Conference convened to adopt the Charter. They chose the rule of law to govern international relations. This was the only way to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. This choice was also a result of the evolution of human civilization. It came out of the realization that the old system that made war permissible to right wrongs was not only barbaric and brutal, but fundamentally unjust.

Consequently, an obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means was consecrated in the Charter, together with a prohibition on the use of force in international relations. The mission of the International Court of Justice, over which I currently have the honour to preside, is to resolve inter-State disputes peacefully in accordance with international law. The Court has so far done this more than 150 times.

The choice of the rule of law involved also a determination, for the first time in the history of multilateral relations, to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small.” We owe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the two covenants, to this determination by the peoples of the United Nations.

Equally important for more than half of humanity, which in 1945 was still suffering from alien subjugation and colonization, was the recognition in the Charter of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples that finally led to their freedom and independence. The universality of the Charter-based system and of international law would not have been realized without the proclamation of the right of all peoples to equality and self-determination. United Nations membership has grown from 50 States at San Francisco to 193 today, mostly as a result of the application of the right of peoples to self-determination. A view of the Peace Palace, seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), The Hague, Netherlands. Credit: UN Photo/ICJ/Capital Photos/Gerald van Daalen

For the past 75 years, the above-mentioned basic norms, together with the others enshrined in the Charter, have fostered peace, progress, human rights protection, the emancipation of peoples and multilateral cooperation throughout the world. They have also furnished the legal framework upon which rests the rules-based multilateral system that enables both States and individuals to engage in cooperative activities across borders in a wide range of fields, ranging from aviation to shipping, from telecommunications to trade, from financial transactions to investment, and from health and environmental protection to education and culture.

It could, therefore, be said that the adoption of the Charter in San Francisco, and its implementation by the organs of the United Nations, have opened up broad and sweeping vistas for humanity to cooperate for the common good, to avoid armed conflicts and to work for progress based on equality and human dignity. Much has already been achieved, but much more remains to be done, as has been demonstrated by the recent challenges to the United Nations system raised by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Few would contest the enduring value and strength of the Charter as a normative instrument, even after 75 years of existence. Its purposes and principles have acquired a universal character unprecedented in human history. At the same time, the relevance and inspirational value of those principles for the progressive development and consolidation of the rule of law at the international level keeps growing. However, the question is whether the institutional mechanisms established by the Charter, as a constituent instrument, are still fit for the world of today with its multifaceted challenges. Some of them certainly are; but others may need to be updated.

The world has radically changed since 1945. Nevertheless, it might still be argued that if the United Nations did not exist today, it would have to be invented. Would it, however, be invented exactly in the same institutional set-up and operational mechanisms as in 1945? That is where a rethink becomes relevant. The 75th anniversary of the Organization may be an opportune moment to start the process. It will require serious engagement by all States. The Charter provisions on organs and institutions of the United Nations system are not carved in stone. They have been adjusted before due to changes in membership. They can be modified again, perhaps more profoundly this time, to allow the Organization to accomplish its noble purposes. It will not be done overnight, but it is worthwhile doing for the common good of humanity. (This article was first published by the UN Chronicle on 10 July 2020.)

“There has never been a better time to invest in India:” PM Modi Tells During Keynote Address at the India Ideas Summit

“There has never been a better time to invest in India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while delivered a keynote address at the India Ideas Summit on July 22nd, 2020, hosted by the US-India Business Council (USIBC). In the virtual summit, which brought together senior officials from the Government of India and the United States to set the post-pandemic economic recovery agenda, PM Modi invited US businesses to invest in various economic sectors of India.

“Global economic resilience can be achieved by stronger domestic economic capacities,”  Modi said, while pointing that “India is contributing towards a prosperous and resilient world through the clarion call of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat.’” Describing India as the emerging land of opportunities, Modi said, India-US partnership can play an important role in helping the world bounce back faster after the pandemic.

The theme for this year’s Summit was ‘Building a Better Future’. Prime Minister congratulated USIBC on its 45th anniversary this year. He thanked the USIBC leadership for their commitment to advancing India-US economic partnership.

Modi talked about the need to place the poor and the vulnerable at the core of growth agenda. He underlined that ‘Ease of Living’ is as important as ‘Ease of Business’. He said that the pandemic has reminded us of the importance of resilience of the global economy against external shocks, which can be achieved by stronger domestic economic capacities.

India offers a perfect combination of openness, opportunities and options Prime Minister said that there is global optimism towards India because it offers a perfect combination of openness, opportunities and options. He noted that in the last six years, efforts have been undertaken to make our economy more open and reform oriented, adding that reforms have ensured competitiveness, enhanced transparency, expanded digitization, greater innovation and more policy stability.

Citing a recent report, Prime Minister said that there are more rural internet users than urban internet users. Hailing India as a land of opportunities, he said there are about half a billion active internet users in the country now, while there are over half a billion more people who are being connected. He also mentioned opportunities in the frontier technologies of 5G, Big Data analytics, Quantum Computing, Block-chain and Internet of Things.

Extensive opportunities to invest across sectors Prime Minister underlined that there are extensive opportunities to invest in a variety of sectors in India. He talked about the historic reforms recently undertaken in the agriculture sector and said that there are opportunities to invest in areas including agriculture inputs and machinery, agriculture supply chain, food processing sector, fisheries and organic produce.

Noting that the healthcare sector in India is growing faster than 22% every year and the progress of Indian companies in production of medical-technology, tele-medicine and diagnostics, he said that now is the best time to expand investment in Indian healthcare sector. Prime Minister listed several other sectors which offer tremendous opportunities to invest, viz. the energy sector; infrastructure creation including building houses, roads, highways and ports; civil aviation, wherein top private Indian airlines plan to include over a thousand new aircrafts over the coming decade, thus opening up opportunity for any investor who chooses to set up manufacturing facilities in India, and also through setting up of Maintenance Repair and Operations facilities.

He mentioned that India is raising the FDI cap for investment in defence sector to 74%, two defence corridors have been established to encourage production of defense equipment and platforms, and added that special incentives are offered for private and foreign investors. He also mentioned pathbreaking reforms being undertaken in the space sector.

Inviting investment in finance and insurance, Prime Minister said that India has raised the FDI cap for investment in insurance to 49% and 100% FDI is permitted for investment in insurance intermediaries. He noted that there are large untapped opportunities for increasing insurance cover in health, agriculture, business and life insurance.

Rising investments in India Prime Minister talked about India’s rise in Ease of Doing Business rankings of the World Bank. He underlined that each year, India is reaching record highs in FDI, adding that FDI inflows in India in 2019-20 were 74 billion dollars, which is an increase of 20% over the previous year.

He highlighted that even during the pandemic, India has attracted foreign investment of more than 20 billion dollars between April and July this year. Best time to invest in India Prime Minister said that India has what is needed to power the global economic recovery. He noted that India’s rise means a rise in trade opportunities with a nation that can be trusted, a rise in global integration with increasing openness, a rise in competitiveness with access to a market which offers scale, and a rise in returns on investment with the availability of skilled human resources.

Stating USA and India as natural partners, he said this partnership can play an important role in helping the world bounce back faster after the pandemic. Reaching out to the American investors, he said that there has never been a better time to invest in India.

“This year’s summit, “Building a Better Future,” featured a series of conversations that explore how U.S.-India partnerships — and the governments, businesses and institutions that sustain them — have been instrumental to combating the health and economic challenges of COVID-19,” said Nisha Biswal, President of USIBC. “We’ve also focused on how the U.S.-India corridor can leverage post-pandemic opportunities to support a more secure and sustainable world. The 2020 conference brings together thought leaders to discuss shared challenges in areas like geopolitics, inclusive economic growth and job creation, supply chain integrity, the digital divide and resilient infrastructure development.”

Will Dr. Manny Sethi Win GOP Primary for US Senate Seat in Tennessee Against Trump’s Endorsement for His Opponent?

A Republican primary win by Dr. Manny Sethi might not be quite as big of a political upset in Tennessee as Bill Lee’s primary win was two years ago, but it might not be far from it.Sethi, a trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who is the son of Indian-American immigrants, is trying to do the same thing Lee: campaign as an outsider and political newcomer, and upset a well-entrenched insider. Lee did it against Randy Boyd in his successful campaign for governor in 2018; Sethi is trying to do it against Bill Hagerty for the U.S. Senate.President Donald Trump’s endorsement clout will get another test in the Aug. 6 open Republican U.S. Senate primary in Tennessee. Bill Hagerty, Trump’s former ambassador to Japan, has the president’s endorsement in a race against Manny Sethi, a Nashville trauma surgeon who doesn’t disagree with Trump on a whole lot, either — other than his preference of candidate. So far, the contest for the GOP nomination has revolved around who would be a more fitting right-hand man for Trump in Washington.The 41-year-old Indian American Republican entered the race in June 2019 after Sen. Alexander’s late 2018 announcement that he will not seek a fourth term. He is a surgeon and associate professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the director of Vanderbilt Orthopedic Center for Health Policy.More than a dozen are running for the seat’s Republican nomination: Sethi, Clifford Adkins, Matisha Brooks, Byron Bush, Roy Dale Cope, Terry Dicus, Jim Elkins, Tom Emerson, Jr., George S. Flinn, Jr., Bill Hagerty, Jon Henry, Klent A. Morrell, Glen L. Neal, Jr., John E. Osborne, Aaron L. Pettigrew, Johnny JJ Presly and David Shuster.An internal poll shared by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi indicated that he is close to Bill Hagerty in the race for outgoing U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s seat. According the internal poll results shared from Sethi’s office, Hagerty leads the race by a 2% lead as the August primary election approaches for the state. Hagerty has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.“We can’t let up now,” Sethi said in a press release. “We have moved over 20 points in the polls this past month. Voters are responding to our conservative message of standing up to the left wing mobs and defending America.”Sethi, a Nashville surgeon, Sethi has run a preventative health nonprofit, Healthy Tennessee, and co-edited a book on health policy with former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, also a former Vanderbilt surgeon from Tennessee.Trump tweeted an endorsement for Hagerty on July 12, 2019. “I have had the benefit of working with President Trump for a long time,” said Hagerty, in a June interview with The Daily Herald. “I appreciate the fact that President Trump takes my input. If I have something I want to discuss with him, whether he agrees with me or not, we sit and talk about it. I do not issue a press release. I do not go on TV and complain about it. I talk with him about it. I have the ability to do that.He was part of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign brain trust and served as his ambassador to Japan. “The grassroots momentum of this campaign is growing,” Sethi said last week when announcing the opening of additional campaign offices across the state. “This campaign is powered by conservatives all across Tennessee. With seven offices across the state, we’re going to continue to connect with activists from Mountain City to Memphis who are hungry for a conservative to represent our values in the United States Senate.”In late June, the Associated Press reported that the Conservative Outsiders PAC, funded with $100,000 from David Ingram, Sethi’s campaign state finance chairman and president of a large distribution company, sent to more than 300,000 Republican activists a video attacking Hagerty.The group also set up an anti-Hagerty website and shared plans for more videos, ads on multiple platforms. In response, Hagerty’s campaign didn’t mention the attack or Sethi, and instead continued to direct focus to Trump’s endorsement. “Now more than ever, we have to support the president,” Sethi said. He added that America “is the greatest country on earth. Don’t let anybody, anywhere, ever tell you different. My family’s story, my personal story, is a testament to that.”But, he added, America does have some pressing issues, chief among them being the rioting that is taking place across the nation in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers that have since been criminally charged and jailed.“We have this mob that is burning, rioting, looting in the streets,” Sethi said. “If anybody says anything, they call you a racist. And these weak-kneed Republicans in Washington, they won’t take them on. If I am your U.S. Senator, we will take them on.” With less than two weeks remaining before the final votes are counted, all the indications are that momentum is shifting to Sethi.

With Less Than 100 Days To 2020 Election, Trump Is Behind In A State No Republican Has Won The Presidency Without In 96 Years

The indisputable fact that the polls in Florida favor Biden ought to be considered one of the greatest warning indicators but for Trump’s fledgling marketing campaign. Yes, we nonetheless have less than 100 days to go, and historical past does counsel that the hole in Florida may shut. Still, Florida is most likely the bellwether state that almost all meets the definition of “must win” for Trump if he desires to be elected to a second time period, and he is dropping there.

A new CNN/SSRS poll finds that former Vice President Joe Biden leads in the state of Florida by a 51% to 46% margin over President Donald Trump among registered voters. The CNN poll follows a Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week, which showed Biden with a 51% to 38% lead.
Trump hasn’t led in a single Florida poll since early March.  The fact that the polls in Florida favor Biden should be one of the biggest warning signs yet for Trump’s fledgling campaign. Yes, we still have 100 days to go, and history does suggest that the gap in Florida could close.

Still, Florida is probably the bellwether state that most meets the definition of “must win” for Trump if he wants to be elected to a second term, and he is losing there. No Republican has won the presidency without Florida since Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

Moreover, it’s a state that leans a little bit to the right of the nation. The last time the state voted more Democratic than the nation as a whole in a presidential election was 1976. The fact that Trump is down here by an average of 8 points in high quality live interview polls since June 1 suggests he is down significantly nationally.

Biden, on the other hand, has a clear path to 270 electoral votes without Florida. Biden has held 6 to 12 point leads in polls released this week from Michigan and Pennsylvania. This includes 6 point and 12 point advantages in Michigan from CBS News/YouGov and CNN/SSRS polls respectively released on Sunday. High quality polls from June gave Biden an average 10-point lead in Wisconsin. If Biden adds all of those states to his column plus the 232 electoral votes from the states Hillary Clinton won in 2016, he gets to 278 electoral votes.

Winning Florida gives Biden a lot of backup options given that it’s worth 29 electoral votes. If Biden adds the 29 electoral votes from Florida to the states Clinton took in 2016, he gets 261 electoral votes. Biden would need just 9 electoral votes more to get an electoral college majority. He could add any other state that Trump won in 2016 by 9.0 points or less.

As I noted a few months ago, Florida is geographically and demographically diverse from the Great Lake battleground states. If Biden stumbles in the mostly White Great Lake swing states, he could conceivably hold onto Florida and add on the diverse swing state of Arizona. Biden has consistently been ahead in Arizona, and he was up 4 and 5 points in the latest CNN/SSRS and NBC News/Marist College polls out Sunday.

Additionally, Biden could just win one of those Great Lake battleground states and Florida to get to 270 electoral votes. Biden could, for example, add Michigan (16 electoral votes) to his column, and it would be enough. Biden has held the advantage in every single nonpartisan poll in Michigan since early March.
Perhaps as importantly for Democrats, the polling in Florida has generally been accurate at the end of the campaign. There hasn’t been an error like there was in the Great Lakes in 2016. The final Florida polls from CNN have been within 3 points of the outcome in every presidential election since 2008. The same holds true for the gubernatorial and Senate elections in 2018.
With Biden’s polling lead being as wide as it is right now in the Sunshine State, the past accuracy of the final polls suggest he really is ahead right now.

The good news for Trump is that history does indicate how difficult it would be for Biden to win the state by a large margin. The last time a Democrat won the state by more than 6 points was 1948. No candidate from either party has won the state by more than 6 points since 1992.
(That’s an even longer streak for close elections than the infamous bellwether of Ohio. Unlike Florida, Ohio really isn’t a bellwether state anymore as indicated by Trump’s 1-point advantage in a CBS News/YouGov poll out on Sunday. Biden was up 10 points in a national CBS News/YouGov poll also released Sunday.)

Overall the point is that we shouldn’t be surprised if the margin in Florida closes down the stretch. That’s exactly what happened in the 2018 midterms, when Republican candidates for governor and Senate squeaked out wins by less than a point.  But for now, Florida is emblematic of larger challenges Trump faces. It’s been a state ravaged by the coronavirus, which has almost certainly contributed to Trump’s problems in the state.

Doug Sosnik, one of the top political analysts in America, framed it in this colorful way: “Watching Donald Trump running for reelection is like watching an old Austin Powers movie. Both Austin and Trump walk around without a shred of self-awareness, without a clue as to how the world has changed around them. Trump is starring in a rerun of his 2016 campaign in a different country than the one that elected him president.”

The polling numbers from WSJ/NBC News, the Pew Research Center and Gallup tell the story of why Trump needs an ideological culture war to win this election. Eighty percent of Americans believe the country is out of control, 65% think the coronavirus is getting worse, only 19% of Republican voters are satisfied with the way things are going in our country, 72% of all voters believe the country is on the wrong track, Trump’s job approval can barely break 40% driven by the public dissatisfaction of his handling of the coronavirus and Joe Biden holds a steady and significant lead in all public polls.

Every quantitative signal and historical precedent points to a surefire loss for the President in November. Now, most people looking at the numbers 97 days out, including me, made the same judgment in 2016 — Trump couldn’t win. He trailed in most public polls for the entire general election and he did lose the national popular vote, yet he was elected with a solid electoral college victory.

Trump likely can’t win if he doesn’t turn around his low approval ratings on the coronavirus. His approval rating in Florida on the issue is just 42% among registered voters in the latest CNN poll. Were that to remain the case through Election Day, Biden’s likely the next President.

Republicans Unveil $1 Trillion COVID Stimulus Proposal

Senate Republicans on Monday formally unveiled their stimulus proposal, which will serve as an opening bid ahead of bipartisan negotiations with Democrats as lawmakers scramble to respond to the ongoing economic and public health crisis sparked by the pandemic.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor, “The American people need more help,” and that the GOP proposal will be called the HEALS Act, an acronym for Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools.” McConnell announced that a series of GOP committee chairmen will roll out the component parts of the legislation shortly.  “Just like in March with the CARES Act, Senate Republicans have authored another bold framework to help our nation. So now we need our Democratic colleagues to reprise their part as well,” McConnell said, calling on them to “put aside partisan stonewalling,” and “rediscover the sense of urgency that got the CARES Act across the finish line.” The Senate Republican proposal will sit around $1 trillion and include $105 billion for schools, a second round of direct payments to individuals and families, $16 billion in new money for testing, a second, more targeted round of forgivable small business loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, a myriad of tax incentives for employers to rehire, retain and retrofit their offices for employees. It will also include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s redline: liability protections for businesses, schools, hospitals and non-profits. The plan includes a $400 cut in enhanced unemployment benefits, and will serve as an opening bid for bipartisan negotiations with Democrats while Congress scrambles to respond to the economic and public health crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic. It will also cut enhanced federal unemployment benefits — set to expire at the end of this week — to $200, from the current level of $600, as states transition to implement a system designed to provide approximately 70% wage replacement for laid off workers, according to two people familiar with the proposal. McConnell has said that he hopes that in the next two to three weeks the Senate will be able to get the next coronavirus relief bill to the House. Democrats are already unified behind their own opening offer — a $3 trillion proposal that passed the House back in May.  The GOP plan had originally been expected to be released last week, but was delayed amid disputes and holdups. Hard-fought negotiations are expected ahead given that Democrats and Republicans are far away from each other in terms of both topline numbers as well as specifics in their proposals.  Republicans have also faced division within their own ranks as they have worked to put together a proposal, and some GOP senators are wary of spending more money on top of the trillions of coronavirus aid that lawmakers have already enacted. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said on Monday that he expects “significant resistance” from Republicans to the GOP stimulus bill. “There is significant resistance to yet another trillion dollars. The answer to these challenges will not simply be shoveling cash out of Washington, the answer to these challenges will be getting people back to work. And as it stands now, I think it’s likely that you’ll see a number of Republicans in opposition to this bill and expressing serious concerns,” he said. Democrats put forward their stimulus plan earlier in the year, with the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passing the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May, but Republicans have struggled to answer it with legislation of their own, failing to share their plan as promised last week. Passing the bill — which will involve striking a deal with Democrats — is a deeply urgent matter for Congress. McConnell, on Monday following the roll out of the GOP stimulus proposal, described the plan as “a starting place,” acknowledging that Democrats will be needed to get anything to the President’s desk and that more negotiations lay ahead.  “Every bill has to start somewhere. Republicans are in the majority in the Senate. This is a starting place. You’ll have plenty of stories to cover along the way as we have these discussions back and forth across party lines and with the administration,” he said.

Top Technologist Simplifies Ventilator By Inventing An Affordable Design

Ravinder Pal Singh, shies away from attention, despite the fact that he’s one of the world’s most sought out experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Innovation and Robotics. Ravinder Pal Singh (Ravi), is an award winning Technologist, Rescue Pilot and Angel Investor with several patents. As an inventor, engineer, investor, highly sought global speaker and storyteller, his body of work focuses on making a difference within acute constraints of culture and cash, mostly via commodity technology. Ravi’s latest invention is arguably the world’s most affordable ventilator and what has fuelled him, in his own words, is – “Fear of human contact is not sustainable for civilization. Everyone has to contribute to overcome this fatigue and fatality of fear”.
 
His latest visionary creation is a blueprint to help humanity in the fight for survival against one of the most challenging health crises in the recent past. The impact of COVID-19 has prompted a reluctant but much needed change. According to Ravi, the cost of life should not come at the price of lifestyle. Intent for compassion has to translate into actual actions by everyone and everywhere and every day.
 
Disparity and imbalance take resources away from most people to live a basic life, so a minority can afford an expensive (lavish) lifestyle, and this is no longer sustainable. Secondly, the world, till now, has been driven by collaboration of conflict (potential of war) and/or economics (fiscal prudence), which should be changed towards collaboration to survive, keeping health as a priority. Healthcare infrastructures across countries needs to be revisited and global uniformity has to be established.
 
Thirdly, how we design our lives – places where we live, places where we work, places where we interact – should all change. The glorification of creating mega cities is no longer sustainable. In fact, the history of the demise of past civilizations has a commonality of 4 factors — A combination of an epidemic plus population movements plus the pressure urbanization put on rural lifestyles as well as climate change. There is still merit in non-political Gandhian theories based on – De-centralization and Micro Markets, Rural development (ideal cluster of villages), Self-sufficiency while living harmoniously with nature and a greater equity or “distributive justice via creating institutions than solely profit driven businesses.
 
The inspiration for Ravi’s latest invention came from his own experience at the frontlines. The world faces a severe and acute public health emergency due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. It is a stark truth that COVID-19 can require patients to be on ventilators for significant periods of time and that hospitals can only accommodate a finite number of patients at once. Ventilator shortages are an unfortunate reality as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to worsen globally.
 
Ventilators are expensive pieces of machinery to maintain, store and operate. They also require ongoing monitoring by health-care professionals. To solve the above situation, Ravi has invented and prototyped an affordable ventilator for all, using a minimalistic design which can be easily operated by anyone. The key design element is the ability to build it quickly for mass production so governments around the world can encourage existing industrial setups and start-ups to manufacture them locally to help save lives.
 
Ravi was baffled with the thought of why one would require an engineering degree to design, produce and manufacture a ventilator.  He has built two different working prototypes on common platform design.
 
The first version is the simplest and is an extremely portable ventilator, one which is intuitive, can be used by anyone and fundamentally takes air from the atmosphere, extracts oxygen, controls pressure and pushes the output to the lungs. The second one is an advanced version of this particular ventilator.
 
It is on a similar design platform which converges artificial intelligence with electrical, mechanical, electronics and instrumentation,  with the capability to supply pure oxygen. It has self calibration capabilities, a machine learning algorithm to adjust the air flow according to the needs and the resistive nature of the lungs of any patient. Both of them are based on common platform design thinking and that’s the real beauty of his patented design and platform thinking. The reason to work and produce outcomes has become purified through the stark reality of death. Driving Ravi’s imagination and the core to all of his inventions is the burning desire to create a meaningful body of work through compassion oriented design and architectural forms.
 
Ravinder Pal Singh (Ravi) is a Harvard Alumni and Award Winning Engineer with over several hundred Global Recognitions and Patents. His body of work, mostly 1st in the world, is making a difference within acute constraints of culture and cash via commodity technology. He has been acknowledged as one of the world’s top 10 Robotics Designers, #1 Artificial Intelligence Leaders in Asia and featured as one of the world’s top 25 CIOs. Ravi is currently employed as the Chief Innovation and Information Officer at Tata Singapore Airlines (Vistara). Ravi is the advisor to a board of nine enterprises where incubation and differentiation is a core necessity and challenge. He sits on the advisory council of three global research firms where he contributes in predicting practical future automation use cases and respective technologies.email: [email protected]: www.ravinps.com
 

Apple Starts Making First Flagship Iphone In Chennai, India

In a major major boost to the Indian government’s Made in India initiative, Apple has started manufacturing one of its flagship devices, the iPhone 11, in Chennai’s Foxconn plant. Notably, this is the first time Apple has manufactured a top-of-the-line model in India, reports ET. Prior to this, the Cupertino-based tech giant had started assembling the iPhone XR in the country’s Foxconn plant. Apple manufacturer Foxconn has started building iPhone 11 units in a facility near Chennai in India, TechCrunch reported, the first time Apple has made one of its top-tier phones in that country.  Apple has manufactured lower-priced iPhone models in India since 2017, and reportedly has been considering moving production of its more premium models there for some time.

India was the second-biggest smartphone market in the world in 2019, ahead of the US and second only to China. According to TechCrunch, Apple plans to scale up production in India, which would in turn reduce how much it depends on China, where most of its iPhones are currently made. And while Apple tops the premium smartphone market in India, it has only about a 1 percent share of the total smartphone market there. The iPhone’s price puts it out of reach for many consumers in India.

By selling locally-made devices in India, Apple would be able to avoid a 20 percent import duty that India imposes on foreign-made electronics. It’s not clear whether the devices are being manufactured for sale within India only, or for the broader worldwide market.

The local assembly of Apple iPhones would be beneficial for buyers in many ways. The Made in India units won’t cost as much as the imported devices as the company will not have to pay a 20 percent tax that is required to import the smartphones from its global manufacturing facilities. The ET report states that the production of the iPhone 11 will be done in phases and one of Apple’s largest suppliers, Foxconn will make an investment of 1 billion dollars to expand its plant in Tamil Nadu over the next couple of years. Apple currently has three major suppliers for its iPhone models Foxconn, Wistron, and Pegatron. And not just Foxconn, Pegatron too has plans to invest big in India.

“We are fully pushing ahead with the next steps there (in India), and maybe in a few months’ time, we can reveal on our website the next steps and report back to everyone. We’ll have a further investment there,” Liu Young-Way, Chairman of Foxconn, has said during the company’s Annual General Meeting held in June 2020. Now coming back to the Apple iPhone 11, it is one of the most popular Apple smartphones in India. Cheapest in the iPhone 11 series, the Apple iPhone 11 sells in India for Rs 68,300 for the 64GB variant, whereas the 128GB variant is priced at Rs 73,600 and iPhone 11 256GB costs Rs 84,100 in India. Earlier this year, Apple had increased the price of its iPhone by over 5 percent due to an increase in customs duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST).

2nd Wave of Covid 19 Witnessed Around the World

While India continues to reel under Covid-19, a number of places that were once seen as the gold standard for pandemic responses are now also seeing surges in cases, as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world unabated.

Australia’s hard-hit Victoria state on Monday posted a new daily record of 532 new Covid cases, and Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews warned that a lockdown in the city of Melbourne will continue if infected people continue to go to work instead of staying home. Melbourne is almost half way through a six-week lockdown aimed at curbing community spread of the coronavirus. Mask wearing in Australia’s second-largest city became compulsory last week.Meanwhile, Hong Kong is locking down yet again amid its third wave. Hong Kong banned gatherings of more than two people, closed down restaurant dining and introduced mandatory face masks in public places, including outdoors.

And Japan, which has not imposed lockdowns, just recorded its highest daily infection rate yet, just before the weekend. Also, Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from Danang after three residents tested positive at the weekend. Until Saturday, the country had reported no community infections since April.

In Europe, parts of Spain, which brought a virulent outbreak to heel this spring with strict measures, are closing down again as infections soar. In fact, a surge in infections in Spain prompted Britain to order all travellers from there to quarantine for two weeks, wrecking the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people.

And the Czech Republic, which held a ‘farewell party’ to the pandemic just weeks ago, is experiencing a new jump in cases linked to a Prague nightclub. The Czech government, on Monday, announced an overhaul of its much-criticised ‘smart quarantine’ system of tracking and isolating contacts of people with Covid as it battles the spike in new infections.

Finally, China had managed to squelch local transmission through firm lockdowns after the virus first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year. But a new surge has been driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang. In the northeast, Liaoning province reported a fifth straight day of new infections and Jilin province reported two new cases, its first since late May.

So even with the most well-intentioned, widespread restrictions, it seems the virus is not going away anytime soon. And until there is a vaccine, governments may be forced to rely on the strategy of “suppress and lift” — coined by Hong Kong authorities — whereby rules are relaxed and then swiftly reinforced at the first sign of new spikes. The Covid map of India has transformed this month, with the virus having reached almost all the districts and cases growing fast. While the pressure seems to be easing in early hotspots like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad, roughly half the country’s districts now have more than 500 cases each. Of them, about 200 have more than 1,000 cases each, and there has been at least one Covid death in almost 80% of the districts. Many of these emerging hotspots have scanty health infrastructure and managing an explosion of cases could prove beyond their capabilities. Already, cases in 11 districts are growing at double-digit rates.

Should schools reopen? Balancing COVID-19 and learning loss for young children By Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Michael Yogman, and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff

Sadly, there is no risk-free decision about school reopening: Decisionmakers must balance the risks of children contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 with counteracting risks of children falling academically behind and being deprived of social relationships from in-school learning. Decisions as to whether students should return to school in person must be tailored to fit each specific community, school district, and even grade within school. The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine this week released a report focused on younger children. Their advice? Open schools for children in kindergarten through fifth grade with well-funded safety measures in place. On the one hand, there is much scientific data to suggest that even our youngest children have already lost academic and social readiness during the COVID-19 slump. This is even more true for children from underserved communities. Science tells us that social relationships with friends and teachers are essential for social and academic learning during early childhood. Children learn, love, and thrive best when interacting with other adults and children. For example, research shows that strong language skills are born in the context of conversations with other people. Interactions between young children, their peers, and adults—real interactions—literally mold areas of the brain that support social bonding, language, and the seeds of literacy. Put simply, social relationships play a critical role in learning and child development. On the other hand, with respect to public health, there is much that we do not know. Data are still evolving and are sometimes contradictory on 1) the level of health risk children with COVID-19 personally face; 2) whether children are more likely to be asymptomatic shedders; and 3) whether children are likely to spread COVID-19 to teachers and parents. According to a recent report based on international data, countries like Denmark and Germany have had fairly safe results. This is to be contrasted with data out of Israel suggesting that school reopening created a spike in cases. It remains unclear what factors (i.e., timing of reopening with respect to national COVID-19 trajectories and other cultural factors) drive these differences. A new study out of Korea examined 65,000 people and concluded that even younger children do catch and spread the virus. Those under 10 are roughly half as contagious. A true unknown is whether the virus has lasting effects on children as they grow up. Importantly, we have yet to know whether young children can follow the safety mandates. Try to envision a group of 4-year olds really keeping a mask on throughout the day. It is as baffling as imagining a team of 3-year-olds who can truly keep six feet apart? Ask any parent or early childhood educator: Preschoolers are not well known for following rules. So, what is a parent to do? What is a teacher to do? What policies should guide decisions about whether, and if so, how to open school? This is the balancing act. In two pieces, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that for young children, returning to school with the right provisions in place would be optimal. In an amendment to their post, they write: “Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue reopening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers, and staff.” There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for reopening, and significant resources will be required. Local conditions are paramount. These include the prevalence of the virus in the community, the health risks for staff (both teachers and custodial staff), whether adequate financial resources are provided for schools to disinfect classrooms, students and employees are screened for symptoms, and academic spaces are reconfigured, such as by setting up tented learning areas for outdoor classes. The risk-benefit calculus is also influenced by individual characteristics associated with student needs. Importantly, children from underserved communities—who are disproportionately racial minorities and immigrants—as well as children with food insecurity and special needs, often receive services that are only provided through schools. The bottom line is that the answer is just not as black and white as many in the media lead us to believe. Decisions about whether and how to reopen schools require a delicate balance of dynamic factors. Surely with such complicated decisions, a scientific response rather than a political one is in order. The scientific data about how children are affected by and spread COVID-19 are accumulating before our eyes. While the health risks are real, they must be balanced with the scientific consensus that children must be around other people. The optimal way for schools to strike this balance is not yet known. But if we empower decisionmakers with the scientific evidence, and update them as it accumulates, we can at least make informed decisions about how to keep our children safe while also feeding them the psychological nutrients to develop in a healthy way.

Nature study identifies 21 existing drugs that could treat COVID-19

Multiple drugs improve the activity of remdesivir, a current standard-of-care treatment for COVID-19 A Nature study authored by a global team of scientists and led by Sumit Chanda, Ph.D., professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, has identified 21 existing drugs that stop the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The scientists analyzed one of the world’s largest collections of known drugs for their ability to block the replication of SARS-CoV-2, and reported 100 molecules with confirmed antiviral activity in laboratory tests. Of these, 21 drugs were determined to be effective at concentrations that could be safely achieved in patients. Notably, four of these compounds were found to work synergistically with remdesivir, a current standard-of-care treatment for COVID-19.  “Remdesivir has proven successful at shortening the recovery time for patients in the hospital, but the drug doesn’t work for everyone who receives it. That’s not good enough,” says Chanda, director of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys and senior author of the study. “As infection rates continue to rise in America and around the world, the urgency remains to find affordable, effective, and readily available drugs that can complement the use of remdesivir, as well as drugs that could be given prophylactically or at the first sign of infection on an outpatient basis.” Extensive testing conducted  In the study, the research team performed extensive testing and validation studies, including evaluating the drugs on human lung biopsies that were infected with the virus, evaluating the drugs for synergies with remdesivir, and establishing dose-response relationships between the drugs and antiviral activity. Of the 21 drugs that were effective at blocking viral replication, the scientists found: 13 have previously entered clinical trials for other indications and are effective at concentrations, or doses, that could potentially be safely achieved in COVID-19 patients. Two are already FDA approved: astemizole (allergies), clofazamine (leprosy), and remdesivir has received Emergency Use Authorization from the agency (COVID-19). Four worked synergistically with remdesivir, including the chloroquine derivative hanfangchin A (tetrandrine), an antimalarial drug that has reached Phase 3 clinical trials.  “This study significantly expands the possible therapeutic options for COVID-19 patients, especially since many of the molecules already have clinical safety data in humans,” says Chanda. “This report provides the scientific community with a larger arsenal of potential weapons that may help bring the ongoing global pandemic to heel.”  The researchers are currently testing all 21 compounds in small animal models and “mini lungs,” or lung organoids, that mimic human tissue. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss a clinical trial(s) evaluating the drugs as treatments for COVID-19. “Based on our current analysis, clofazimine, hanfangchin A, apilimod and ONO 5334 represent the best near-term options for an effective COVID-19 treatment,” says Chanda. “While some of these drugs are currently in clinical trials for COVID-19, we believe it’s important to pursue additional drug candidates so we have multiple therapeutic options if SARS-CoV-2 becomes drug resistant.” Screening one of the world’s largest drug libraries The drugs were first identified by high-throughput screening of more than 12,000 drugs from the ReFRAME drug repurposing collection—the most comprehensive drug repurposing collection of compounds that have been approved by the FDA for other diseases or that have been tested extensively for human safety. Arnab Chatterjee, Ph.D., vice president of medicinal chemistry at Calibr and co-author on the paper, says ReFRAME was established to tackle areas of urgent unmet medical need, especially neglected tropical diseases. “We realized early in the COVID-19 pandemic that ReFRAME would be an invaluable resource for screening for drugs to repurpose against the novel coronavirus,” says Chatterjee.  The drug screen was completed as rapidly as possible due to Chanda’s partnership with the scientist who discovered the first SARS virus, Kwok-Yung Yuen, M.D., chair of Infectious Diseases at the University of Hong Kong; and Shuofeng Yuan, Ph.D., assistant research professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, who had access to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in February 2020.  About the ReFrame library  ReFRAME was created by Calibr, the drug discovery division of Scripps Research, under the leadership of President Peter Shultz, Ph.D., with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It has been distributed broadly to nonprofit collaborators and used to identify repurposing opportunities for a range of disease, including tuberculosis, a parasite called Cryptosporidium and fibrosis.  A global team  The first authors of the study are Laura Riva, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Chanda lab at Sanford Burnham Prebys; and Shuofeng Yuan at the University of Hong Kong, who contributed equally to the study. Additional study authors include Xin Yin, Laura Martin-Sancho, Naoko Matsunaga, Lars Pache, Paul De Jesus, Kristina Herbert, Peter Teriete, Yuan Pu, Courtney Nguyen and Andrey Rubanov of Sanford Burnham Prebys; Jasper Fuk-Woo Chan, Jianli Cao, Vincent Poon, Ko-Yung Sit and Kwok-Yung Yuen of the University of Hong Kong; Sebastian Burgstaller-Muehlbacher, Andrew Su, Mitchell V. Hull, Tu-Trinh Nguyen, Peter G. Schultz and Arnab K. Chatterjee of Scripps Research; Max Chang and Christopher Benner of UC San Diego School of Medicine; Luis Martinez-Sobrido, Wen-Chun Liu, Lisa Miorin, Kris M. White, Jeffrey R. Johnson, Randy Albrecht, Angela Choi, Raveen Rathnasinghe, Michael Schotsaert, Marion Dejosez, Thomas P. Zwaka and Adolfo Garcia-Sastre of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Ren Sun of UCLA; Kuoyuan Cheng of the National Cancer Institute and the University of Maryland; Eytan Ruppin of the National Cancer Institute; Mackenzie E. Chapman, Emma K. Lendy and Andrew D. Mesecar of Purdue University; and Richard J. Glynne of Inception Therapeutics.

Dr. Babu Prasad, A Retired Anesthesiologist Donates $1M To St. John’s NICU

Dr. Babu Prasad’s recent $1 million donation to the HSHS St. John’s Foundation for the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) at St. John’s Children’s Hospital is his love letter to the hospital and community. “I am giving back to a hospital, a community and a country that I dearly love,” Prasad said Thursday at a press conference at the hospital. “Springfield is a beautiful city and a wonderful place to live. I gave this contribution because I want Springfield to continue to grow, to bring new jobs here and to build upon the excellent medical community and medical services that we all enjoy. “Children are our future, so I wanted to direct my gift to the neonatal intensive care unit to give the babies a healthy start to their lives.” Dr. Babu Prasad came to the United States in 1971 after graduating from medical school in India with no money. But Prasad became a successful anesthesiologist, including an 18-year stay at HSHS St. John’s Hospital, where he retired in 2004. Prasad joined St. John’s in 1986. He still works two weeks per month at Interventional Pain Management Specialist in Carterville, Ill. In October, St. John’s began a $19 million renovation and expansion of the NICU to provide single-family patient rooms for premature and critically-ill infants.The project will more than double the size of the NICU, taking it from 15,000 square feet to 36,500. It will open in February. Each year, approximately 2,000 babies are born at St. John’s Children’s Hospital. The NICU cares for about 700 babies annually from a 35-county area. “Dr. Prasad’s gift is a beautiful testament as to who he is as a person,” said Beverly Neisler, chief development officer for the HSHS St. John’s Foundation. “He is a generous and kind man who has built a successful life through his hard work, dedication and determination.“Today, St. John’s and our most vulnerable patients are benefiting from his generosity. It’s a wonderful day for St. John’s Children’s. “He means so much to all of us.” Neisler said Prasad has been “a consistent donor” of the NICU. “He wanted to make a difference for Springfield and he wanted to make a difference for St. John’s,” Neisler added. “He has a real heart for babies and we’re delighted that he does.” “Donors, like Dr. Prasad, make all the difference by giving so generously to provide exceptional care and comfort to our most vulnerable patients,” said E.J. Kuiper, president and chief executive officer of HSHS Illinois. Dr. Beau Batton, director of newborn services at St. John’s Children’s, pointed out that the hospital was one of the first in the state to have a unit dedicated to the exclusive care of premature babies. “The NICU renovation, made possible through generous contributions, like of those of Dr. Prasad, will allow St. John’s to remain in the forefront of innovative, high quality care,” Batton said. Prasad called coming to the U.S. nearly 50 years “a golden opportunity. “It felt like heaven,” he added. “There was no comparison to India in the 1970s.” Prasad passed an exam given by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) that granted him a residency in the U.S. “It was the first time I saw TV,” said Prasad, who was 24 when he came to the U.S. Prasad first worked in Canton, Ohio, before moving to the University of Illinois Chicago, where he completed his anesthesiology residency. He practiced for 10 years in Alabama before coming to Springfield. Prasad has three children, including two daughters who followed him into medicine, and six grandchildren. “I was so pleased this project came up and I was able to do it,” Prasad said. “Those who can afford it have to step in and contribute. “I was amazed. This place looks beautiful. Springfield has the best medical community in the country.”

China 2050: How the US should prepare for an ascendant China — RAND Report

Newswise — The United States should prepare for a triumphant or ascending People’s Republic of China – scenarios that not only align with current PRC national development trends but also represent the most challenging future scenarios for the U.S. military, according to a new RAND Corporation report that examines China’s grand strategy out to 2050. The authors make the case that the kind of country China becomes, and the way that its military evolves, is neither foreordained nor completely beyond the influence of the United States or U.S. military. However, Beijing’s intense preoccupation with internal security and deep suspicions regarding U.S. intentions toward China may frustrate attempts by Washington to improve bilateral relations and encourage more liberal domestic policies. “The experience of COVID-19 is a prime example,” said Andrew Scobell, the study’s lead author and a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. “Beijing’s secretive approach to the pandemic has exacerbated tensions with a wide array of other countries, including the United States, and contributed to economic dislocation (aka ‘decoupling’) between China and some of its key trading partners. While Beijing seems to have been effective in dealing with the pandemic at home, this has been accomplished through draconian and repressive measures.” To map out potential future scenarios – What will China, and its military, look like in 2050? What will U.S.-China relations look like in 2050? – researchers studied trends in the management of politics and society and analyzed the specific national-level strategies and plans that China’s Communist Party rulers have put in place to further their vision of a China that is well governed, socially stable, economically prosperous, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful by 2049, the centenary of the founding of the PRC. The report describes four possible scenarios for China at mid-century – triumphant, ascendant, stagnant and imploding – with the middle two most likely. If China proves ascendant, the U.S. military should anticipate increased risk to already threatened forward-based forces in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines, as well as a loss of the ability to operate routinely in the air and sea space above and in the Western Pacific. The report recommends that the U.S Army be prepared for a China whose role on the Asia-Pacific and global stages grows steadily. To prepare for military conflict in such circumstances, the U.S. Army should optimize its abilities to deter hostilities, get troops and equipment to hotspots quickly, operate from forward bases, and work with allied forces. The U.S. could field more robust cyber and network attack capabilities and other means to counter China’s unmanned aircraft systems, the authors assert. The capacity to respond quickly and effectively to China’s burgeoning reconnaissance-strike system will play an important role in determining the extent to which China’s leadership remains risk averse when considering military options to resolve regional disputes. The report, conducted for the U.S. Army, is based on a review of Chinese and Western literature on the PRC’s long-term strategic development and security plans and objectives, official statements by high-level Chinese officials and institutions, speeches by paramount leaders, white papers published by the Ministry of National Defense and other PRC government agencies, authoritative People’s Liberation Army (PLA) texts, as well as Western and other non-Chinese analyses of these documents. Other authors of the study, “China’s Grand Strategy: Trends, Trajectories, and Long-Term Competition,” are Edmund J. Burke, Cortez A. Cooper III, Sale Lilly, Chad J. R. Ohlandt, Eric Warner and J.D. Williams. Research for the study was conducted within RAND Arroyo Center’s Strategy, Doctrine and Resources Program. RAND Arroyo Center is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the United States Army.

‘Hopes Of Developing Vaccine Against Covid Rising

The race to develop the first effective vaccine against COVID-19 involves an awfully crowded field, with 137 candidate vaccines in pre-clinical study worldwide and another 23 actually in development. But a leader seemed to emerge today with research published in the Lancet reporting promising results in a robust study by investigators at Oxford University in England. The study began in April, with a sample group of 1,077 adults aged 18 to 55—an age group young enough to tolerate exposure to SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with less risk of adverse effects than would be seen in older, more vulnerable adults. The group was divided more or less in half, with 543 participants receiving the experimental COVID-19 vaccine, and the other 534 serving as a control group, receiving an existing vaccine against meningococcal vaccine. (The investigators chose not to use an inert saline solution for the control group because both vaccines can cause side effects such as achiness, fever and fatigue. Saline would cause no such symptoms and would thus reveal which group was the control group and which was not.) The vaccine uses a harmless-to-humans chimpanzee adenovirus as a delivery vector. That virus is modified to carry spike proteins from SARS-CoV-2—the component of the coronavirus that, in theory, should induce the sought-after immune response in humans. What the researchers were looking for were two kinds of immune reaction: humoral immunity, or the system-wide generation of antibodies against the virus; and cellular immunity, or the activation of immune system T-cells that attack human cells infected with the COVID-19 virus. Oxford vaccine triggers immune response, trial findsA Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by the Oxford University has safely prompted a protective immune response in hundreds of volunteers who got the shot in an early trial, preliminary findings published Monday in the journal Lancet said. The vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (also called AZD1222), designed by Oxford and developed by AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish pharma major, triggered a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months. The preliminary findings are from the placebo-controlled, phase-I trial held between April 23 and May 21, involving 1,077 participants. 543 were administered the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, another 534 a control vaccine (to rule out placebo). Further, ten participants were given a booster shot of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine. All participants who received the vaccine developed spike-specific antibodies by day 28, an immune response similar to those who recover from Covid-19. Spikes are the spike proteins on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that it uses to attach to human receptor cells. The ten who received a booster shot produced neutralizing antibodies (antibodies in higher titers). The vaccine also triggered T cells, a type of white blood cell that “remembers” and attacks the coronavirus. Side effects including fever, headaches, muscle aches, and injection site reactions were observed in about 60% of patients; but all these were deemed mild or moderate and were resolved during the trial. T-cells and antibodies: That the vaccine has induced antibodies and T cells are significant. T cells can stay in the body for a longer period in a dormant state, and can re-emerge to attack the virus in case of an infection. The science behind the Oxford vaccine

Preliminary data from the phase I/II trial of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University showed it was safe and prompted an immune response that lasted at least two months. More on that and India’s role in the eventual rollout of the vaccine in today’s Times Top10. Here, we delve deeper into the science behind the vaccine.

Oxford’s candidate, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (also called AZD1222), is a non-replicant viral vector vaccine. The vector (the carrier) is derived from adenovirus (ChAdOx1) taken from chimpanzees. This is a harmless, weakened adenovirus that usually causes the common cold in chimps. It is genetically engineered so that it does not replicate itself in humans. Now, a gene (the load) from the coronavirus, SARS CoV-2, that instructs cells to build spike proteins is loaded into the vector.

Remember, coronaviruses have club-shaped spikes on their outer coats — the ‘corona’. These spike proteins allow the virus to attach to the ACE2 receptors in human cells. When the genetically engineered ChAdOx1 with the spike-responsible gene from coronavirus is administered in a person, the gene is “expressed”, causing the build-up of spike proteins. The body’s immune system recognises this and begins to create the antibodies to defeat the foreign object. Note: the vaccine vector is non-replicant so it doesn’t harm the person, but the spike proteins nevertheless trigger antibodies. The preliminary findings showed participants also produced T cells, a type of white blood cell that “remembers” and attacks the coronavirus infection. Oxford researchers led by Professor Sarah Gilbert were able to quickly develop the vaccine candidate as they had been working on the ChAdOx1 platform against Ebola and MERS viruses.

And other vaccine candidates?

India’s hope: Pune-based Serum Institute of India, under an agreement with AstraZeneca, is to bulk produce the Oxford vaccine. The company’s CEO, Adar Poonawalla, had earlier said it will produce 5 million doses per month for the first 6 months before ramping up the production. The findings are from the phase-I/II trial. The larger, phase-III trials of the vaccine have already begun in Brazil and South Africa. A vaccine being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics and China’s military research also appeared to safely induce both antibodies and T cells, a mid-stage study released Monday said. Both CanSino’s and Oxford’s vaccines are based on a similar science of using a non-replicating viral vector to trigger the immune response. Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has announced that the Phase-I clinical trials of India’s first indigenous Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin began across the country on July 15. “This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on 375 volunteers in India,” the company said in a brief statement. The leading vaccine maker had announced on June 29 that it successfully developed Covaxin in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology.The SARS-CoV-2 strain was isolated in NIV, Pune and transferred to Bharat Biotech. The indigenous, inactivated vaccine was developed and manufactured in Bharat Biotech’s BSL-3A (Bio-Safety Level 3) High Containment facility located in Genome Valley, Hyderabad.

The vaccine developed by China’s CanSino Biologics in partnership with the country’s military research wing also relies on a viral vector, but a weakened human cold virus, adenovirus 5 (Ad5). CanSino, too, published its findings from phase I/II trial on Monday that showed it safely prompted an immune response.

But… the vaccine was inadequate to induce immunity response in people aged 55 or older — a group vulnerable to Covid-19. Researchers contend an additional dose given between the third and sixth month could negate this. The use of Ad5 itself has left some scientists unconvinced. Since most people would have already been infected by Ad5 (cold virus), they fear the immune system induced would focus on the Ad5 parts of the vaccine rather than the SARS-Cov-2 material fused to it.

Two other advance candidates are developed by Massachusetts-based Moderna and Germany’s BioNTech in partnership with Pfizer. These are messenger-RNA based candidates. They rely on synthetic mRNA that delivers the genetic code for spike proteins, thus triggering an immune response. Early findings by Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer, too, showed they prompted an immune response.

Another reason to be hopeful about the Oxford vaccine: Viral vector-based vaccines need only be cold stored, whereas mRNA vaccines need to be in a frozen state — a challenge for developing countries.

‘Trump the most divisive in century, but 1968 US election was even worse’

Will the 2020 United States Presidential Election be the most divisive one in the past 100 years? Donald Trump may be the “most divisive major party candidate in the last 100 years” but the balance between the two parties has been “about as even” as in the last 70 years , says a respected US political analyst, adding that “things are bad this year”, but 1968 was even worse.

“It depends on what you mean by ‘divisive’. We have the most divisive major party candidate in the last 100 years in Donald Trump. Partisan loyalties are as strong as they have been in the last 100 years and the balance between the two parties is about as even as it’s been in at least 70 years. On the other hand, you could make a good case that the most divisive election in the last 100 years was in 1968,” John Mark Hansen, the Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago’s Political Science Department, told IANS in an email interview.

In 1968, the American public was deeply divided over the Vietnam War, school desegregation, law and order, and other issues. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April and Robert F Kennedy in June.

President Lyndon Johnson gave up plans to run for re-election when a “peace” candidate, Gene McCarthy, got 42 per cent in the New Hampshire primary. Richard Nixon, “who got his big break in politics as a red-baiter”, was the Republican nominee and he chose Spiro Agnew, a “clownish bully”, as his running mate. George Wallace ran as a third party candidate on a racist platform and chose Gen. Curtis LeM(“Bomb ’em back to the Stone Age” as his running mate); they won 13.5 per cent of the vote and five states, Hansen pointed out.

“Bad as things are this year, it doesn’t come close to 1968, in my view,” added Hansen, one of the nation’s leading scholars of American politics and whose research focuses on interest groups, citizen activism, and public opinion.

It is said that Donald Trump owes his 2016 victory to the fact that working class White people, particularly the ones without a college education, rural voters and others who felt overlooked by the establishment and left behind by the coastal elite made their voices heard. Does this category, or the Middle American Malaise as some choose to describe it, still feel as strongly to vote in the same manner in 2020?

“The wins Trump made in the Rust Belt were decisive, no question. He tapped into the resentment of white working class voters over the loss of their economic and social position, particularly resentment toward trade. That was real. Ironically, it required a Republican candidate to repudiate a bedrock principle of his party. Trump’s trade war might have made some people feel good – take that, China! – but it really hasn’t changed anything in any material way.
“The President’s only major legislative achievement is a big tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. And now he’s presiding over minus five per cent GDP growth and over 10 per cent unemployment. Voters in the Rust Belt have a lot more to worry about now than the trade balance with China,” Hansen explained.

Be that as it may, he admitted that overall, the economy will be a major issue in the election. “It was a solid point for him at the beginning of the year. It’s a major negative for him now. He will be lucky if growth rises to zero per cent and unemployment falls below 10 per cent, and that will still be bad for him. He may well have made matters worse for himself by pressing so hard to reopen the economy late in the Spring. Given where things are heading with Covid, we may well be in full lockdown again by the beginning of the campaign season in September. He wanted a big bounce back but he may have gotten himself (and us) a prolongation of the pain,” Hansen maintained.

Will the BLM movement sustain till Election Day and what will its impact be? “Yes. A lot of African American voters who turned out for Barack Obama in the Rust Belt and the South stayed home in 2016. The stakes are pretty clear in 2020. I expect the Democrats to benefit from higher Black turnout in key states,” Hansen said.

Linked to this, what will the impact be of the anti-Confederate movement – removal of statues, changes in state flags et al -on the election?

“This is pretty interesting. Trump has tried and tried to swing White voters back in his direction by activating racial divisions. At least so far, it’s not working. It’s not 1968 or 1988. As far as we have to go, Whites’ racial attitudes have liberalized. Perhaps even more important, race baiting looks like an attempt at diversion when you’re worried about your job or worried about getting sick,” Hansen said.

At the bottom line, Trump’s biggest asset is the loyalty of Republican voters as this is what kept him close enough to win some close states in 2016, Hansen said, adding: “He’s had a hard time holding on to White suburban women in 2018 and it’s no better now. His support among the elderly also seems to have eroded.” “The biggest question mark for the fall is how Covid will affect theactual voting. If conditions in the South and West are as bad in October as New York, New Jersey, and Illinois were in May, there may be some Republicans who wish they’d gotten behind mail-in ballots (that give voters a chance to decide in advance on how they will cast
their votes),” Hansen concluded .

In A New Poll, Trump Trails Biden by 14 Points Nationally

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is leading President Trump by 14 points, 50 to 36 percent, in the latest general election poll by The New York Times and Siena College. The poll is the most recent of several national surveys that have shown Biden ahead of Trump by double digits.  The New York Times/Siena College poll also shows Biden leading or tied with the president among all age demographics. Biden and Trump both poll at 44 percent support with those aged between 45 and 64, and Biden is within the 3-point margin of error in his 47-45 percent lead among those 65-years-old and older.  It’s a similar story across education levels of voters — the president trails Biden with voters who completed some high school and/or trade school, as well as with those who hold bachelors degrees and graduate degrees. Trump and Biden are tied with those who have completed “some college” with 43 percent support each. And it’s the latest poll to show that Trump’s 2016 support among blue-collar workers and white voters has ebbed. Trump and Biden are statistically tied with white voters with the president up one point at 44-43 percent.  The ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Sunday last week revealed a close margin, 54 per cent for Biden and 44 per cent for Trump, was the fifth consecutive high-quality national poll that showed the former Vice President ahead of Trump by 10 points or more, reports Politico news.Of the nine such polls conducted since the second half of June, Biden has led Trump by double digits in seven of them. Prior to the release of the ABC News/Washington Post poll on Sunday, Biden held a 9-point lead in the RealClearPolitics average. Meanwhile, a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, 45 per cent of registered voters had a favorable opinion of Biden, and 43 per cent viewed him unfavorably. That was up slightly from 42 per cent favorable, 46 per cent unfavorable in June. Similarly, 44 per cent of voters surveyed by an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week said they had a positive opinion of Biden, while 46 per cent viewed him negatively. Meanwhile, Trump’s favourable ratings are in the tank, the Politico news report said. Majorities in the Quinnipiac (61 per cent unfavourable) and NBC/WSJ (54 per cent negative) polls gave the President poor image ratings. Meanwhile, Trump’s re-election campaign has disputed the results of public polling, arguing that the President runs stronger against a “defined” Biden in their internal tests. But the Trump campaign’s efforts to define Biden with a bombardment of negative advertising, especially in the battleground states, has yet to dent the former Vice President, the Politico report added.

TK Mathew Announces Candidacy For Tax Collector

TK Mathew, a 20-year veteran businessman who’s lived in Hillsborough County since 1991, has announced his candidacy for Hillsborough County Tax Collector. Mr. Mathew believes that those who live in Hillsborough County pay for top-quality service and they deserve to get it. His years in the private sector have prepared him to take the Hillsborough county tax collector’s services to the next phase, with high efficiency and high quality in every aspect of the office’s operations around the county, making the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s office, “the most modern, fast and efficient agency in the United States.”
In addition to his experience in the private sector, Mr. Mathew spent four years working for Mr. Belden in the Hillsborough county tax collector’s office. Because of this, he understands the challenges confronting both sides of the tax collection process. This crucial experience has given him a unique perspective and motivated him to enter the tax collector’s race with the hope of streamlining services and processes so that individuals, business owners, and the county are all better off.
Hillsborough County is growing rapidly, and we need to address new challenges and expand our service accordingly. Mr. Mathew would like to bring the latest technology available to our office so we can serve our citizens better and faster. He hopes to work with other agencies within the Hillsborough county government, to include if possible, opening satellite offices in underserved areas in Hillsborough County. He also intends to provide Hillsborough county’s almost 100,000 veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers with expedited service as a thank you for their service to our nation and citizens.
In pursuit of this goal, Mr. Mathew has set forth a plan that includes opening more neighborhood locations to serve Hillsborough County taxpayers. In addition, he plans on hiring enough well qualified and trained representatives so that wait times are minimized and quality customer service becomes a greater priority.
Along with increasing the number of service locations and well qualified personnel, Mr. Mathew has made known his intention of restructuring the salary of all Tax Collector Office employees in order to increase employee retention and workplace quality. This will lead to greater customer service and customer satisfaction. “The Tax Collector’s office is spending millions in training new employees – and they’re leaving within short periods of time because of better paying jobs and other benefits offered by private sector employers. We need to pay them a fair wage for the work they’re doing because it’s important work. I would like to offer a better salary & benefits package which is equal to or better than the private sector employers for similar work because our employees deserve it and our citizens deserves quality customer service too,” he says.
Mr. Belden has said, “If it’s not broken, improve upon it.” This is TK Mathew’s motto as he enters the race for Hillsborough County Tax Collector. He believes that we have a good system in place that can be improved by increasing efficiency with newer technology and taking advantage of the existing resources with better management and training. He fully plans on taking the foundation we built up and improving upon it in every way possible to save money and save time for every single taxpayer in Hillsborough County.

Trump’s Move to Pull U.S. Out of World Health Organization Could Impact Global Health Adversely: Dr. Soumya Swaminathan

The plan by President Trump to “withdraw from the World Health Organization will affect the global healthcare system adversely,” Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at World Health Organization said. The Indian origin top scientists at the WHO was addressing The First Ever Virtual Summer Summit by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), held from June 16th to 28th, 2020. The Trump administration sent a letter giving the United Nations a one-year notice for the U.S. to quit the World Health Organization, formalizing President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the agency even as the coronavirus rages out of control in the U.S. and in many other countries. The administration sent the letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday, making the U.S. withdrawal official on July 6, 2021, under a requirement for a one-year notice, according to Stephane Dujarric, the secretary-general’s spokesman. It’s almost certain that Democratic rival Joe Biden would reverse Trump’s decision if he’s elected in November.  US President Donald Trump’s decision, announced on 29 May, to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization (WHO) was never in doubt. Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the White House has been intensifying its charge that the WHO was slow to respond to the threat, and overly influenced by China. Undoubtedly, the agency has lessons to learn, and, at the World Health Assembly last month, WHO member states endorsed an independent evaluation. It is irresponsible and dangerous for the United States — the WHO’s largest donor — to bypass the agreed process and withhold roughly US$450 million in annual funding in the middle of one of the worst pandemics in recent history. This will undermine the world’s efforts to control the new coronavirus and will endanger more lives as COVID-19 continues on its destructive path. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said he learned of President Trump’s intentions of “terminating” the decades-long U.S. relationship with WHO through Trump’s press briefing. “The U.S. government’s and its people’s contribution and generosity toward global health over many decades has been immense, and it has made a great difference in public health all around the world. It is WHO’s wish for this collaboration to continue,” Tedros said.  While stating that the monetary contributions of the US will not be a huge factor if it chose to leave the world body, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said, due to the close collaboration between US Healthcare Agencies and WHO, the departure of the US will affect the ongoing sharing of scientific data and thus prevent the world from accessing and sharing of knowledge and research which are vital for developing vaccines and effective healthcare delivery system around the world. “Good health is the foundation for good economy,” she said. Neglecting health will affect the economic progress negatively, she added. She referred to the Accelerated Program to study and find the most effective drug/vaccination development that is accessible to all the nations, and creating safe protocol and procedure for all nations as well developing International Health Regulations by WHO. She pointed to the Global Outbreak Network with 10,000 healthcare professionals from around the world, who are deployed in emergencies. WHO Academy has been set up train Healthcare workers to manage and respond to emergencies, she said. Dr. Soumya Swaminathan pointed out the examples of how smaller nations and the state of Kerala in India have been able to contain the virus spread due though long term investment in education and healthcare and via decentralization. She urged the nations for urgent investment in health care mostly on primary healthcare focusing on prevention rather than treatment. Referring to several initiatives under WHO in coordination with countries and private companies to develop safe vaccine and to prevent the spread of the virus, she spoke about the Accelerated Program to study and find the most effective drug/vaccination development that is accessible to all the nations.

Trump Orders International students to leave US if their schools have online-only learning

International students who are pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced this week. The Trump administration has also made a litany of changes to the US immigration system, citing the coronavirus pandemic, that have resulted in barring swaths of immigrants from coming to the country The move may affect thousands of foreign students who come to the United States to attend universities or participate in training programs, as well as non-academic or vocational studies.Universities nationwide are beginning to make the decision to transition to online courses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. At Harvard, for example, all course instruction will be delivered online, including for students living on campus. For international students, that opens the door to them having to leave the US. Many U.S. colleges were scrambling to modify plans for the fall semester in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic a day after the Trump administration issued an order that could force tens of thousands of foreign students to leave the country if their schools hold all classes online. “There’s so much uncertainty. It’s very frustrating,” said Valeria Mendiola, 26, a graduate student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “If I have to go back to Mexico, I am able to go back, but many international students just can’t.” In a news release Monday, ICE said that students who fall under certain visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” adding, “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.” The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction. There’s an exception for universities using a hybrid model, such as a mix of online and in-person classes.Brad Farnsworth, vice president of the American Council on Education, said the announcement caught him and many others by surprise. “We think this is going to create more confusion and more uncertainty,” said Farnsworth, whose organization represents about 1,800 colleges and universities. “What we were hoping to see was more appreciation for all the different possible nuances that campuses will be exploring.”One concern with the new guidance, Farnsworth said, is what would happen if the public health situation deteriorates in the fall and universities that had been offering in-person classes feel they have to shift all courses online to stay safe. Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited. The guidance, Bacow continued, “undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan for continuing academic programs while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic. We will work closely with other colleges and universities around the country to chart a path forward,” he said. There are more than a million foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities, and many schools depend on revenue from foreign students, who often pay full tuition.The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said institutions moving entirely to online learning must submit plans to the agency by July 15. Schools that will use only in-person learning, shortened or delayed classes, or a blend of in-person and online learning must submit plans by Aug. 1.  The guidance applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 visas, which are for academic and vocational students.

While Trump Wants to Ban Foreign Workers, 155 Indian Companies Create Nearly 125,000 Jobs in US

President Trump has been calling for ban on immigrant workers to the US. He has suspended work visas to the end of the year. However, as per a report from CII, a total of 155 companies with origins in India are responsible for generating over $22 billion in investments and nearly 125,000 jobs in the US, according to a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

The report titled ‘Indian Roots, American Soil 2020’ showed that the states with the top concentrations of Indian companies reporting were New Jersey, Texas, California, New York, Illinois and Georgia.

The corporate social responsibility and research and development expenditure of the companies stood at $175 million and $900 million, respectively.

Texas, California, New Jersey, New York, and Florida are home to the greatest number of workers in the US directly employed by the reporting Indian companies.

The surveyed companies disclosed the highest amounts of foreign direct investment were in Texas, New Jersey, New York, Florida, and Massachusetts.

Indian investments in 20 U.S. states stand at over $100 million each, showed the survey.

Around 77 percent of the companies plan to make more investments in the world’s largest economy and 83 percent of the companies plan to hire more employees locally in the next five years.

The CII survey respondents are from sectors including pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, aerospace and defense, financial services, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, said: “The survey results show that the U.S. is a preferred investment destination for Indian companies which are contributing significantly to supporting local jobs. The results in the survey capture a snapshot in time, documenting tangible investments and direct jobs only, so I believe that the actual economic impact of Indian FDI in the U.S. is much larger.”

He further said that it is critical that the U.S. government continues to provide a supportive policy environment for Indian companies to flourish and enhance their operations in the U.S., especially to aid economic recovery at this time.

Jenifer Rajkumar Wins NY State-Level Primary

Indian American candidates in New York had a great night June 23 in the New York state primary, with Jenifer Rajkumar and Jeremy Cooney winning their state-level races.

Rajkumar was successful in her bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Michael Miller, winning with 49.47 percent of the vote (2,624 votes) to Miller’s 24.51 percent (1,300 votes). Joseph de Jesus finished third with 20.89 percent and 1,108 votes, according to the New York Registrar of Voters.

Jenifer is a lawyer, Professor at CUNY and former New York State Government official. With early roots in public service and giving back, Jenifer graduated from Stanford Law School with distinction for her pro bono legal work on behalf of vulnerable individuals. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania at the top of her class magna cum laude, phi beta kappa where she received the Alice Paul Award for exemplary service to women and families.

Jenifer has been dynamic, passionate and persistent in her efforts to make a difference in the lives of others.  For Jenifer, service is a way of life.  She served for years as the people’s lawyer, fighting corporate fraud and excess, and advocating for workers, women, and families in vulnerable situations.  Later, she served at high levels of state government, appointed by the Governor of New York as a Special Counsel and as Director of Immigration Affairs for New York State. She also proudly dedicates her time to uplifting our city’s youth, as a Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York (CUNY).

But her proudest accomplishments are for her neighbors right here at home.  For her work for the people of Queens providing access to counsel to people in vulnerable situations, and working for youth and immigrant communities, the Queens Courier honored her as a 2017 “Rising Star” and the Queens Tribune awarded her its “Glass Ceiling Award” for being a path-breaking woman serving the Queens community.

The Governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo appointed Jenifer as the Director of Immigration Affairs & Special Counsel for New York State in the age of Trump. Working out of New York’s Department of State and the Governor’s Executive Chamber, Jenifer led the Liberty Defense Project, a first-in-the-nation $31 million dollar state-led public-private project to assist immigrants in obtaining legal services. Jenifer also represented New York State in litigation before Administrative Law Judges. She served as an ethics officer, handling ethics matters for the State.  She was a state-wide surrogate for the Governor on the State’s signature policy items. She traveled from the farms of upstate New York to her home in Queens to help New York’s communities. Inspired by the people of New York, she is more motivated than ever to dedicate herself to service.

Beyoncé Urges US Citizens to Vote ‘Like Our Life Depends on it’

Beyoncé on Sunday night was presented with BET’s highest honor, its humanitarian award, which she dedicated to protesters taking to the streets around the nation. The singer was given the award by Michelle Obama, who said that Beyoncé’s activism “demands justice for Black lives.”

Beyoncé was given the award for her work supporting the Black community through her foundation, BeyGOOD, and for ensuring that coronavirus test kits were available for Black residents living in Houston, Texas, the city where she grew up. Earlier this month, she released a song that celebrates Juneteenth called Black Parade that is also the name of a new directory of Black-owned enterprises she launched last week

In her acceptance speech, Beyoncé urged Americans to vote “like our life depends on it” in the upcoming U.S. election, and called on people to help “dismantle a racist and unequal system” in the country. “I want to dedicate this award to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change. Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain,” she said. “Now we have one more thing we need to do to walk in our true power, and that is to vote.”

The BET awards celebrate Black artists and sports figures—previous recipients of the humanitarian award include legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Denzel Washington.

Beyoncé has called on American citizens to vote in the upcoming presidential election during an acceptance speech for a humanitarian BET award she was given by Michelle Obama. She dedicated the award to protesters around the U.S. and encouraged viewers of the award show to vote “like our life depends on it,” adding “because it does.”

“You can see it in everything she does, from her music that gives voice to Black joy and Black pain, to her activism that demands justice for Black lives,” Michelle Obama said before presenting Beyoncé with the award. Obama celebrated Beyoncé for “calling out sexism and racism when she sees it.”

Beyoncé was one of many artists that spoke out against racism at the BET award ceremony this year, which celebrates Black artists and athletes. She called on voters to “dismantle a racist and unequal system.” Roddy Ricch wore a Black Lives Matter shirt while performing

Bipartisan Appeal To Trump To End Citizenship Delays

There are thousands of citizens-in-waiting who, amid a ballooning backlog, may be unable to complete their naturalizations in time to vote in the 2020 election. An estimated 650,000 citizenship applications were pending in the first quarter of the 2020 fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31.
As state after state imposed social distancing and other measures to mitigate the virus’s spread, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended most of its activity on March 18, and the agency notified thousands of immigrants of the delay to sworn them in as US citizens.
Lawmakers from both parties have urged the Trump administration to conduct the oath remotely to make up for a pause in naturalization ceremonies during the health crisis.
The agency recently began holding naturalization ceremonies in small groups, compared with the hundreds who typically gather to be sworn in, but many of those working with immigrants say that so few are being processed that it may be impossible to make up for lost time this year.
Before the pandemic, about 63,000 applicants took the oath of allegiance each month in small-town courthouses and convention centers around the country. Covid-19 lockdowns postponed the final steps in the process — interviews and ceremonies — potentially delaying citizenship for several hundred thousand people before the end of 2020, according to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which leads a network of nonprofits helping green-card holders become naturalized citizens.
The delays caused by the pandemic follow moves by the Trump administration to tighten scrutiny of naturalization applications, making the process more cumbersome, as well as financial troubles engulfing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is expected to start furloughing workers in coming weeks.
“I do not anticipate this administration will drop their emphasis on vetting and fraud detection to expedite these naturalization applications,” said Randy Capps, who researches naturalization at the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “It means this backlog will probably keep growing.”
A group of lawful permanent residents whose applications have been approved by the U.S.C.I.S. office in Philadelphia but stalled because of the pandemic filed a lawsuit in federal court this month asking for an expedited process to ensure that they are sworn in as citizens by late September in order to meet voter-registration deadlines.
Naturalization applications generally surge during presidential election cycles, but the potential implications of clearing the way for thousands of new citizens to vote differ from state to state.
Polls have indicated that most Latin American and Asian immigrants, who most likely account for the majority of those whose citizenship petitions are pending, would tend to vote Democratic. In states like California, which is solidly blue, the addition of tens of thousands of newly minted voters would be unlikely to have a significant effect.
It could be a different story if potential voters were excluded in contested states, such as Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas. Nearly 200,000 immigrants became citizens in those four states in the 2018 fiscal year, according to official data, representing 26 percent of those naturalized that year.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in recent weeks have urged U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to administer the oath remotely or waive it altogether.
Senators Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Martin Heinrich, Democrat of New Mexico, who are both sons of naturalized citizens, sent a letter on May 22 to Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who heads the agency, requesting that he “take all necessary measures” to enable naturalizations to proceed, including with virtual ceremonies.
Then, earlier this month, 14 members of Congress from both parties sent a letter of their own, calling the oath “largely ceremonial” and citing a law that could be invoked to justify temporarily suspending it.
 “Given the unprecedented circumstances currently facing our country, we ask that these authorities be utilized to remotely administer or waive the Oath of Allegiance amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the letter.
A spokesman for U.S.C.I.S. said that rescheduling naturalization ceremonies was a “top priority as we enter our phased reopening,” which began on June 4. The agency had introduced ceremonies with social distancing last month, and the sessions are starting to be held more frequently, he said.
However, he ruled out remote oaths. The ceremonies must be public under immigration law, he said, and to comply with federal regulations, all applicants must appear in person.
The spokesman also said that online ceremonies presented “logistical challenges” because personal appearances allow reviewers to verify applicants’ identities and collect their green cards, which previously served as proof of legal residency. Holding the ceremonies online also raised security concerns, he added.
Many of those who work with immigrants seeking naturalization said there was a need for flexibility during a health emergency.
“There is legal room for U.S.C.I.S. to make appropriate accommodations for remote oath ceremonies, but it takes will and interest to do so,” said Ur Jaddou, who was chief counsel at the agency during the Obama administration.
“All around the government, agencies have made bold accommodations in response to Covid-19,” said Ms. Jaddou, who is now director of D.H.S. Watch, an advocacy organization that monitors immigration agencies.
While there have been partisan splits over how to address unauthorized immigration and overhaul the country’s immigration system, historically there has been a bipartisan embrace of naturalization. Former President George W. Bush has hosted a ceremony at his institute.
Under President Trump, who has issued a series of policies to curb legal immigration, the leadership of the agency — which handles visas, green cards and asylum claims, in addition to citizenship applications — has adopted a policy of strict scrutiny when adjudicating applications.
About nine million legal permanent residents are eligible for citizenship, but a much smaller number typically apply. Applicants must fill out a 20-page application, pass background checks, submit an array of supporting documents, and pass civics and English tests as well as an interview. They pay a $725 fee. If they hire a lawyer, the additional cost ranges from $1,500 to $3,500.

Ajay Jain Bhutoria Elected As Joe Biden’s Delegate For August Convention

Indian-American entrepreneur from Silicon Valley Ajay Jain Bhutoria has been elected as a delegate for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for the party’s national convention in August.
The Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Wisconsin in August would formally nominate Biden, 77, as the party’s candidate for the November 3 presidential elections.
In the presidential elections, Biden will challenge Republican incumbent Donald Trump, 73, who is seeking re-election.
On the National Finance Committee for the former vice president, Bhutoria is a prominent national bundler for the Democratic Party.
He was elected as a Biden Delegate for the California District 17th National Convention District-Level Caucus this week. The election was held through online ballot.
As a strong supporter of Biden, Bhutoria has been instrumental in bringing together the issues of Asian Americans to forefront. He is working with the DNC to have the Democratic Party website translated into Asian American languages.
Also on Asian American Pacific Islander Leadership Council for Biden, Bhutoria is bringing together the Asian Americans to vote for him, primarily South Asians.
He worked on the National Finance committee for Hillary Clinton’s election in 2016, raising between USD 500 to USD 1 million.
Bhutoria has also worked with the Obama-Biden administration on many issues, including free community college initiative around the country.
The veteran Democrat served as the 47th vice president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 during the presidency of Barack Obama.

Trump Wants India To Be Part Of Expanded G-7

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accepted President Trump’s invitation to attend the G-7 meet as a guest, and has also welcomed Trump’s proposal to include India in an expanded G-7.

The G-7 nations include the United States, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Italy and Canada, and the European Union.

With the planned expansion, it’s unsure as to how the endgame is going to be. Trump is looking at “G-10 or G-11” with India, South Korea, Australia and Russia as additional members. The math is clear; it should become the G-11. Why G-10? Russia. It was kicked out of the group in 2014 (when G-8 became G-7) for annexing Crimea and it remains in the doghouse for most G-7 heads, who don’t share Trump’s enthusiasm for Russia.

But this uncertainty alone should not cast doubts on Trump’s plans for G-7 overhaul. Negotiators had looked at competing numbers for the 1997-99 expansion as well, but had settled on the smaller number to keep it manageable. India made it to that group.

The endgame is unclear, as it was then. Trump is looking at “G-10 or G-11” with India, South Korea, Australia and Russia as additional members. The math is clear; it should become the G-11. Why G-10? Russia. It was kicked out of the group in 2014 (when G-8 became G-7) for annexing Crimea and it remains in the doghouse for most G-7 heads, who don’t share Trump’s enthusiasm for Russia.

But this uncertainty alone should not cast doubts on Trump’s plans for G-7 overhaul. Negotiators had looked at competing numbers for the 1997-99 expansion as well, but had settled on the smaller number to keep it manageable. India made it to that group.

There was a clear need for a broader platform in 1997 to address challenges to global financial stability due to the widening economic crisis in Asian countries. And the G-20 provided an answer. The forum played an effective role after the 2008 crisis.

Trump’s expansion plan, on the other hand, is not well-thought-out. It does not appear to be about the coronavirus pandemic, the worst health crisis faced by the world in 100 years. If he believed in multilateralism to deal with it or prevent the next, he would have continued to fund the World Health Organization and forced to change it from within.

There was a clear need for a broader platform in 1997 to address challenges to global financial stability due to the widening economic crisis in Asian countries. And the G-20 provided an answer. The forum played an effective role after the 2008 crisis.

Trump’s expansion plan, on the other hand, is not well-thought-out. It does not appear to be about the coronavirus pandemic, the worst health crisis faced by the world in 100 years. If he believed in multilateralism to deal with it or prevent the next, he would have continued to fund the World Health Organization and forced to change it from within.

President Bill Clinton had broached the need for broadening the Group of Seven nations, called the G-7, in the wake of the Asian economic crisis of 1997. And that led to the launch of the G-20 in 1999, a group of 19 countries and the European Union. Today,  President Donald Trump, has called for expanding the same body, G-7, on the basis that it is “very outdated.”

It was unclear whether Trump’s desire to invite the additional countries was a bid to permanently expand the G7. On several previous occasions, he suggested Russia be added, given what he called Moscow’s global strategic importance.

Russia was expelled from what was then the G8 in 2014 when Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, was U.S. president, after Moscow annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine. Russia still holds the territory, and various G7 governments have rebuffed previous calls from Trump to readmit Moscow.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would postpone a Group of Seven summit he had hoped to hold next month until September or later and expand the list of invitees to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Trump said the G7, which groups the world’s most advanced economies, was a “very outdated group of countries” in its current format.

“I’m postponing it because I don’t feel that as a G7 it properly represents what’s going on in the world,” Trump said. Most European countries offered no immediate comment on the proposal, with a spokesman for the German government saying Berlin was “waiting for further information”.

The decision to postpone the G7 summit is a retreat for Trump, who had sought to host the group of major industrialized countries in Washington as a demonstration that the United States was returning to normal after the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 113,000 Americans to date. Trump had canceled an in-person G7 meeting scheduled for March as the virus spread, but had recently sought to revive it.

French President Emmanuel Macron backed the idea of an in-person meeting, according to the White House. But Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to endorse it, saying there were too many health-related questions. This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she could not attend.

South Korea is aware of Trump’s invitation and will discuss the matter with the United States, a government official in Seoul told Reuters on Sunday. It’s also not about the economic crisis that has accompanied the pandemic.

All Trump cares about, at this time, is his re-election prospects. That’s why German chancellor Angela Merkel, the sharpest of politicians in the western world, who has made it a practice to not visit the United States in election years, is skipping the summit, although, to be sure, she has other reasons.

Goldman Predicts A ‘Blue Wave’ In The November Elections

  • Goldman Sachs sees an increased possibility of a “blue wave” in the November elections, which could impact corporate profits and dividends.
  • That could lead to a partial or full reversal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act corporate tax reform legislation.
  • “We estimate that a full reversal would lift the effective S&P 500 tax rate from 18% back to 26% and reduce our 2021 EPS forecast of $170 by $20 (11%) to $150,” Goldman vice president of equity strategy Cole Hunter and chief US strategist David Kostin wrote in a Thursday note.

Goldman Sachs said the possibility of a “blue wave,” or round of Democratic victories, is increasing ahead of the November 2020 elections.

“The 2020 election is just five months away, and prediction markets now price a 77%, 50%, and 51% likelihood of Democratic victories in the House, Senate, and presidential races, respectively,” Goldman vice president of equity strategy Cole Hunter and chief US strategist David Kostin wrote in a Thursday note.

According to Goldman, that could lead to a partial or full reversal of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, sweeping corporate tax reform legislation. Rolling the legislation back or dashing it entirely would have a negative impact on the earnings and dividends of companies, Goldman said.

“We estimate that a full reversal would lift the effective S&P 500 tax rate from 18% back to 26% and reduce our 2021 EPS forecast of $170 by $20 (11%) to $150,” Hunter and Kostin wrote.

The increasing odds of a Democratic “blue wave” in November have also raised the chances of a corporate tax hike, according to a Goldman Sachs report.

“The 2020 election is just five months away, and prediction markets now price a 77%, 50%, and 51% likelihood of Democratic victories in the House, Senate, and presidential races, respectively,” the report said.

“Our political economists believe that such an outcome could lead to a full or partial reversal of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act corporate tax reform legislation.”

Some of the major elements of the act, which was backed by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration, include reducing tax rates for businesses and individuals and reducing the alternative minimum tax for individuals and eliminating it for corporations.

The observation appeared in a study about how long-dated S&P 500 dividends are trading at a discount to the firm’s top-down estimates.

The report noted that the S&P 500 has surged 38% from its March 23 low. While long-dated S&P 500 dividend swaps and futures have historically traded with a high beta to the underlying equity index, the report said, the 2023 S&P 500 dividends per share has risen by only 7% during the period.

High beta stocks are those that are positively correlated with returns of the S&P 500, but at an amplified magnitude.

Fifty-six companies accounting for 8.1% of 2019 S&P 500 dividends per share have cut or suspended their payouts year-to-date as companies reassess their balance sheets in light of uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Airlines, cruise operators, hotels, casinos, retail, and energy companies account for much of the list, the report said, but dividend cuts have been fairly broad-based.

In addition to a possible Democratic victory, the report noted that the equity rally has been narrowly concentrated among firms that pay minimal or dividends.

Also, the recent higher move in equities has been driven by an expansion in P/E multiples rather than earnings growth.

Still, Goldman noted that high-tax-paying equities have actually outperformed their low-tax peers since March – gaining 44% and 38%, respectively. This could imply that investors may not be pricing in the risk of an increase in taxes, according to the note.

This is just one factor that Goldman sees contributing to the underperformance of long-dated dividends, the note said.

Other contributors include that the equity market has been disproportionately driven by valuation expansion as opposed to earnings growth. Also, the market has become increasingly concentrated in big-tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, Netflix, and Microsoft.

Meanwhile, a new national poll indicates that President Trump’s approval rating is dropping and that he trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden by double digits if November’s presidential election were held today.

According to a CNN survey released on Monday, the president’s approval rating stands at 38 percent, a dive of 7 percentage points from CNN’s previous poll, which was conducted in early May. And Trump’s disapproval rating jumped from 51 percent month ago to 57 percent now.

And the poll shows the former vice president and presumptive Democratic nominee topping the GOP incumbent in the White House by 14 points — 55 to 41 percent. That’s nearly triple the 5-point margin – 51-46 percent – Biden led by a month ago in CNN polling.

The president, who rarely misses an opportunity to blast a poll that he doesn’t like, took to Twitter soon after the survey’s release to charge that “CNN Polls are as Fake as their Reporting.” CNN Polls are as Fake as their Reporting. Same numbers, and worse, against Crooked Hillary. The Dems would destroy America!, Trump wrote.

The 14-point lead for Biden in the new CNN survey is double the 7-point advantage for the former vice president over Trump in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday. An average of the last national general election matchup polls compiled by RealClearPolitics indicates Biden on top by 7.8 percent over the president.

The CNN poll was conducted Tuesday through Friday – which means it questioned voters nearly entirely before Friday’s stunning unemployment report, which indicated 2.5 million jobs were created last month and that the nation’s jobless level had dropped. The numbers were boosted by states reopening their economies after being mostly shut in late March and April in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

CBS News’ Weijia Jiang on Newsroom Diversity, COVID-19 Racism, and Covering President Trump

(Courtesy: The Asia Society)

On May 11, during a press conference at the White House Rose Garden, CBS News White House Correspondent Weijia Jiang asked President Donald Trump why he was boasting that the United States was testing more people for coronavirus than any other country.

“Why does that matter?” she asked. “Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?”

“Maybe that’s a question you should ask China,” Trump responded. “Don’t ask me. Ask China that question, OK?”

When Jiang, who is Chinese American, asked the president why he was directing this question to her, Trump denied singling her out. He then chided her for asking a “nasty” question before storming out of the news conference.

Trump’s churlish reaction to a question from a White House correspondent — particularly a woman of color — was hardly new. But Trump’s invocation of Jiang’s ethnicity occurred in a particularly fraught moment for Asian Americans, who have been subject to a surge of racist attacks in the months since the coronavirus spread from China to the rest of the world. The exchange with Trump also wasn’t the first time Jiang has encountered racist sentiment at work. In March, she tweeted that a White House official referred to COVID-19 as the “kung flu virus” in her presence. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” she said.

Born in Xiamen, China, Jiang grew up in a small city in West Virginia. A graduate of Syracuse University, she has worked for CBS News since 2015 and became White House correspondent in July 2018. In this conversation with Asia Blog, Jiang recounted her upbringing, reflected on the importance of newsroom diversity, and explained why she thinks that news organizations have never been more vital.

What was your upbringing like? What was the adjustment like for your parents? Were there any other Chinese families in your hometown?

I can’t imagine what the adjustment was like for my parents settling down in a completely foreign land without an Asian community to offer support. They are braver than I could ever be. We had a small Chinese restaurant — one of two in the town. So there was one other Chinese American family, but they didn’t have kids my age. I was the only Chinese American student in my school system. I definitely had to deal with challenges and racism throughout my upbringing, but I wouldn’t change anything because those experiences shaped who I am today. There was also a lot of kindness in our little town. I spent lots of time with my friends and their welcoming families.

How did you decide to become a journalist — what about the profession called to you? 

I remember watching my dad watch hours of news as a child, which probably led to me taking a TV news class in middle school. I was also on the newspaper staff, and I loved everything about reporting. My teacher convinced me to apply for “Student Produced Week” at ChannelOne News — a news program for middle and high school students across the country. (It has since closed operations, but offered a start for many journalists including Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling.) Every year the company selected a group of students and paid for a two-week trip to Los Angeles to learn about journalism. I won, and my life changed forever. I loved the idea that talking to people and telling their stories could be a career. I also loved asking questions and sharing the answers with people who needed them. That hasn’t changed.

Newsrooms, like professions across the country, have struggled to match the diversity of the communities and stories they cover. Do you feel news organizations have improved in fostering a diverse environment over the years? 

I can’t speak to newsrooms nationwide, but the ones I have worked in have all made strides in adding diversity. But in my opinion, it is not diversity on its face that matters. The perspective that comes with being a minority is essential in reporting and telling stories in an authentic way. We all have to make an effort to acknowledge and embrace those varying points of view to make the most of our resources. That requires a never-ending, always-evolving conversation about diversity and why it matters. I think we can all do more to nurture that dialogue and create a space where people feel comfortable sharing. I also think diversity at the top makes a huge difference because people in those positions are leading that effort and making important decisions.

Earlier this year, you tweeted about a racist remark (“kung flu virus”) said in your presence at the White House — and you wondered what was said when you were not around. Have you been subject to any other anti-Asian racism while at work or otherwise since COVID-19 spread to the U.S.? What more needs to be done to halt this trend?

I have not experienced another incident in person, but I get messages on social media every day that include racist language. I think the best thing we can do is provide facts. The fact is the virus does not discriminate against any group of people, and Asian Americans are not more likely to spread it. It’s also important to report on hate crimes and attacks against members of the APA community so they are not normalized.

But the tension between the press and the president is nothing new. President Trump expresses it more frequently and more … colorfully than others.

News organizations have recently debated whether broadcasting President Trump’s press conferences serve the public interest. What are your thoughts about this? Should news organizations refrain from broadcasting these live?

I absolutely think it is important for Americans to hear from the president of the United States during a time of crisis. People want to know what the government is doing to contain the spread, help patients recover, and get people back on their feet again when it comes to the economy. However, the conversation during the briefings has sometimes veered toward other topics than the pandemic and its impact. In those instances, airing the briefings in their entirety can be unproductive. I think that’s why viewership for evening news broadcasts like the CBS Evening News and public affairs shows like Face the Nation continue to increase. It is the job of news organizations to cut through all the noise and distractions to provide the latest information.

If nothing else, White House press conferences have changed significantly during the Trump years. Do you anticipate that things will revert to the way they were in a post-Trump era? Or do you feel that Trump has, for better or worse, revolutionized the way an American president deals with the press? Has his antagonistic relationship with the press damaged journalism? Or is this concern overblown?

I have only ever covered the Trump administration in this capacity, so I don’t have a frame of reference for what is “normal.” This is normal to me.

Of course, I recognize the president’s unique relationship with the press and how it compares with past presidents. I am curious myself how it will impact the future, if at all. But the tension between the press and the president is nothing new. President Trump expresses it more frequently and more … colorfully than others.

Biden Is Best Placed For Any Challenger Since Scientific Polling Began

Former vice president Joe Biden has gained a clear national lead against president Donald Trump in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll ahead of the 2020 election.

In the poll of registered voters conducted between 25-28 May, 53 per cent of respondents said that they would vote for Mr Biden over 43 percent who favoured Mr Trump were the election held on the day they were questioned. Just two months ago the same poll had the two candidates virtually tied at 49 per cent to 47 per cent.

But it’s important to put individual polls into context, and that context continues to show Biden’s in one of the best positions for any challenger since scientific polling began in the 1930s.

There were more than 40 national public polls taken at least partially in the month of May that asked about the Biden-Trump matchup. Biden led in every single one of them. He’s the first challenger to be ahead of the incumbent in every May poll since Jimmy Carter did so in 1976. Carter, of course, won the 1976 election. Biden’s the only challenger to have the advantage in every May poll over an elected incumbent in the polling era.

Biden remains the lone challenger to be up in the average of polls in every single month of the election year. His average lead in a monthly average of polls has never dipped below 4 points and has usually been above it.

Biden hasn’t trailed Trump this entire year in a single telephone poll in which at least some voters were reached via their cell phones — historically the most accurate. The ABC News/Washington Post poll is the latest example of these polls. In fact, Biden’s never been behind in any of these polls since at least January 2019. No other challenger has come close to that mark.

Indeed, the stability of Biden’s edge has been what is most impressive. The May polls had Biden up by 6 points on average. That is right where the average of polls taken since the beginning of this year has been. It’s where the average of polls conducted since the beginning of 2019 has been as well.

If we limit ourselves to just the telephone polls that call cell phones, Biden’s edge might even be slightly larger. This month those polls have Biden up 7 points on average. Estimating Biden’s advantage from state polls of this type shows a similar lead for Biden.

A look at the fundamentals shows why Trump continues to trail. Simply put, he remains unpopular.

His net approval rating (approval – disapproval) in the ABC News/Washington Post poll was -8 points. That’s very close to the average of polls, which has it at about -10 points. At no point during the past three years has Trump ever had a positive net approval rating.

The only other two presidents to have a net approval rating this low at this point in the campaign were Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992. Both of them lost reelection.

But I’m not predicting anything here. Between the coronavirus pandemic and now the protests and riots taking place nationwide, we’re obviously in a volatile news environment.

Still, no other campaign involving an incumbent president has moved as little as this one has. That’s after nearly three months of the coronavirus dominating the news cycle. That’s after many anti-Biden ads have been aired.

It’s at least possible that nothing will move the electorate substantially in Trump’s direction.

Will There Be A Second Round Of Stimulus Check In June?

Congress could decide on a second wave of stimulus checks this month. If it passes, the package could be the last relief check coming to Americans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the update today and what could happen next.

Congress seems to be moving closer to a decision on a second round of economic stimulus payments for individuals and families, but details haven’t yet taken shape The US House of Representatives passed a fourth stimulus relief package last week by 208 votes to 199. The $3 trillion Heroes Act includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, another $200 billion in hazard pay for essential workers, and six further months of COVID-19 unemployment along with other help for state and local assistance.

The HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act will still face significant opposition from the Republican-controlled Senate and the White House but if the bill fails to pass into law after debate on the floor of the upper house, a consensus compromise is still expected to be reached between Democrats and Republicans to provide hard-hit Americans with a second round of financial support sometime during May or possibly June at this rate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last Friday that if Congress does take up another round of stimulus payments, it will be the “final” one, CNBC reported. McConnell also said that senators could decide in “about a month” whether to move ahead with a second relief check, according to CNBC.

The first stimulus checks for up to $1,200 apiece were initially intended as a one-time payment to help the people and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. That includes people who couldn’t work because they got sick, received limited work hours or lost their jobs when businesses closed as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Now, with surging unemployment and a potential global recession ahead, some wonder if the first check did enough for individuals, families, businesses and those who are out of work and are looking at how best to distribute additional aid.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its monthly assessment that 38.6 million Americans sought unemployment benefits (PDF) in the past 10 weeks. That number has reached 42 million people, CBS News reported last week.

Earlier this month, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett projected that unemployment could reach 20% “by June.”

That appears to be the case already for Nevada, Hawaii and Michigan. During a recent Senate hearing, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell called for additional economic relief. And earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund forecast a deep global recession that could become the worst since the Great Depression.

Some Members of Congress even sent a letter to the Treasury recommending high-tech options such as blockchain to help speed up delivery and offer transparency of the payments. However, the only technological move from Secretary Mnuchin appears to be allowing debit cards for now.

On the other hand, not only have Republican senators lined up to oppose the plan, Senate Democrats say they are concerned about what they see as a massive untargeted expense, The Hill reported.

“I’d like to take a look at all that aid we provided and get good economic information on the value for that, from the point of view of our economy but more importantly on fairness to people who are really hurt,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told The Hill.

Cardin said rather than issue a second set of checks to all taxpayers, the government should focus on the households that have been hardest hit by COVID-19’s economic impact. As the Senate determines what the next bailout bill should look like, lawmakers in both parties are ranking their priorities. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) of the Finance Committee said she was not a fan of the checks.

“One-time payments are not what people need, she told The Hill. “What people need is a paycheck. They need ongoing income until this is done. That’s what they need.”

MY Thoughts On US Leaving World Health Organization

1. It will have adverse effects in the World post Trump sanctions against WHO, specially to third world countries. Of course President Trump has promised that the amount US was donating to WHO in the amount of $450 million dollars, would be distributed as per the will of the Trump administration. I am sure some of the countries that are under US sanctions will have diverse effects specially countries like Iran,Venezuela etc.
We all feel, it is absolute loss to humanitarian work in health care across the world.

The problem is WHO failed in their duties to protect the world on Corona, because of Chinese dominance in WHO, even though it was contributing just over $ 45 million or so. I am glad that India has been given the prestigious position as chair of WHO, that may change the world out look of WHO. Will have to wait and see.

I think it is a huge rebuff to China by the USA and it is almost open war with deteriorating relationships between US and China. President Trump did not hesitate to condemn China in his White House press conference this week.

2. US President is absolutely justified in criticizing the misuse of WHO funds in favor of China during Covid Pandemic and its inability to forewarn the world of insufficient and unequivocal measures taken by WHO on behest of China are unpardonable.

3. Yes absolutely China is being looked down in US and there is demand to boycott Chinese imports and put limitations on Commerce, and cultural relations between the two nations. There is a strong move in US congress to de list Chinese companies in New York stock exchanges that will be a big blow to Chinese industries.

President Trump has gained enormous sympathy in his fight against China and WHO. This will greatly help in his re election campaign come November 2020.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi ([email protected]) is the National President of Indian American Forum for Political Edu

Indian Americans on Joe Biden’s Unity Taskforces

Several Indian Americans are part of the Unity Task Force announced by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders with the purpose of use to promoting Democratic party unity by hammering out consensus on top policy issues, additional members have been announced.

Two Indian Americans had already been named as co-chairs of the Health panel: former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his chief primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., announced on Wednesday the members of a joint task force meant to unify the party ahead of November’s general election, bringing together figures from different wings of the party, ranging from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Indian Americans on Joe Biden’s Unity TaskforcesThe news comes a month after Sanders joined Biden via video stream to endorse him. The pair pledged to create these task forces to focus on shared policy concerns. “Now, it’s no great secret out there, Joe, that you and I have our differences, and we’re not going to paper them over; that’s real,” Sanders said at the time. “But I hope that these task forces will come together utilizing the best minds and people in your campaign and in my campaign to work out real solutions to these very, very important problems.”

Biden and Sanders put together six of the “unity task forces” to handle policy in these areas: the economy, education, immigration, health care, climate change, and criminal justice reform.

South Asians for Biden said May 21 that these additional Indian Americans have also been named members of the Unity Taskforce:

  • Chiraag Bains, director of Legal Strategies for the think tank Demos, will serve as the co-chair of the Criminal Justice Reform group;
  • Former Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, now president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, will also serve on the Criminal Justice Reform group;
  • Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, a leading organization focused on climate change among young people, will serve on the Climate Change group; and
  • Sonal Shah, policy director for Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, will serve on the Economy group.

Indian Americans on Joe Biden’s Unity TaskforcesThe taskforce brings together a number of prominent Democrats with subject matter expertise to guide the Democratic Party heading into the November general election on critical issues.

“We are thrilled to see that a number of South Asian leaders have been selected to serve on the Unity Taskforce, which will have an impact on the Democratic Party platform for years to come,” said Neha Dewan, National Director of South Asians for Biden. “South Asians represent the second-most rapidly growing demographic group in America. In this critical election year, the South Asian community has a stake in key policy questions that affect our communities, and are deeply impacted by issues spanning immigration, civil rights, and healthcare. Such a robust representation of South Asians on the Unity Taskforce reflects the growing voting strength of the community,” said Ritu Pancholy, a member of the communications team for South Asians for Biden.

South Asians for Biden is a national, grassroots organization that is dedicated to engaging, educating, and mobilizing the South Asian community to help to elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

Sen. Kamala Harris Introduces Bill to Provide Monthly $2,000 Payments During COVID-19 Crisis

U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ed Markey (D-MA) May 8 had introduced the Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act, legislation that provides a monthly $2,000 check to those struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. As rent comes due and bills continue to pile up, Americans desperately need assistance to financially survive this crisis, said a press release.

“The coronavirus pandemic has caused millions to struggle to pay the bills or feed their families,” said Harris. “The CARES Act gave Americans an important one-time payment, but it’s clear that wasn’t nearly enough to meet the needs of this historic crisis. Bills will continue to come in every single month during the pandemic and so should help from government. The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act will ensure families have the resources they need to make ends meet. I am eager to continue working with Senators Sanders and Markey as we push to pass this bill immediately,” the Indian American senator said in the release.

“As a result of this horrific pandemic, tens of millions of Americans are living in economic desperation not knowing where their next meal or paycheck will come from,” said Sanders. “The one-time $1,200 check that many Americans recently received is not nearly enough to pay the rent, put food on the table and make ends meet. During this unprecedented crisis, Congress has a responsibility to make sure that every working-class household in America receives a $2,000 emergency payment a month for each family member. I am proud to be introducing legislation with Senators Harris and Markey to do exactly that. If we can bail out large corporations, we can make sure that everyone in this country has enough income to pay for the basic necessities of life.”

The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act is endorsed by Economic Security Project Action, Humanity Forward, Community Change Action, High Ground Institute, LatinxVoice, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Income Movement, People’s Action, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Golden State Opportunity, MyPath, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Heartland Alliance, One Fair Wage, Caring Across Generations, End Child Poverty CA/The GRACE Institute, Coalition on Human Needs, Black to the Future Action Fund, ParentsTogether Action, RESULTS, and Forum for Youth Investment.

The Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act:

  • Provides up to $2,000 a month to every individual with an income below $120,000 throughout and for three months following the coronavirus pandemic.
    • Married couples who file jointly would receive $4,000.
    • $2,000 per child up to three children
    • Retroactive to March
    • Begins to phase out after $100,000
  • Ensures that every U.S. resident receives a payment, regardless of whether or not they have filed a recent tax return or have a social security number.
    • Uses the data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, (SSI), Medicare and housing assistance programs
  • Forbids debt collectors from seizing the rebate payments.
  • Ensures the homeless and foster youth receive payments.

Understanding the electoral college in US Presidential Election

When Americans head to the polls to vote in this November’s general election, they won’t actually be voting for the President of the United States directly, but rather they’ll be telling their electors which candidate they want as president. The electors then have their own election in which they select the new president and vice president.

If that sounds needlessly complicated and somewhat undemocratic, that’s because it is.

Electors – of which there are 538 – are supposed to be representatives of the electorate who meet on a state-by-state level and select which presidential and vice presidential candidates will earn that state’s votes. This group of electors and their assemblage is what is known as the “electoral college.” When a presidential candidate receives support from a majority of the the electors – 270 votes – they win the presidency.

s he will not stand as third-party candidate

The number of electors is based on the number of members in the US Congress. A state is allocated one elector for every member of the House of Representatives (which has 435 seats in all) and every member of the Senate (which has 100) representing that state. That number can only change when a new legislator is added to the Congress, which means changes to the electoral college only happen once every 10 years, and even then only if the Census reports a significant state population shift.

States with small populations – like Alaska, Delaware, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana – have fewer Congressional representatives and thus fewer electors. Each of those states have three electors, and thus three electoral votes. Likewise, the District of Columbia, which has no Congressional representation, also has three electors.

On the flip side, states with huge populations – like California and Texas – have dozens of Congressional representatives and thus dozens of electoral votes. California has 55 electoral votes and Texas has 38.

The electoral college was implemented by the Constitutional framers for a number of reasons, some good, some not-so-good.

The Good
The framers wanted to prevent elections from becoming provincial competitions, pitting states against each other to see which would rule the government. Instead, by divorcing the vote from simple one person, one vote rule, the framers hoped to avoid factional coalition building that could cause fractures in the country.

They also wanted to ensure that the country wasn’t simply going to be representative of the will of the most populous states.

The Not-So-Good
It was established as a compromise between framers who believed the people should choose the president, and those who worried that allowing for a direct one person, one vote rule would make the American South a permanent minority. To help ensure the South wasn’t dominated by the more populous North, the 3/5s Compromise was enacted, in which every 3 slaves out of 5 would count as a “person” for legislative and taxation purposes. As a result, human beings who weren’t even allowed to vote were used as a means of giving more political power to their captors.

In trying to protect states with smaller populations from having their electoral desires crushed by states with larger populations, the electoral college has actually undermined the voting power of people who live in denser urban areas, resulting in five elections where the president of the United States actually lost the popular vote but still won the election.

Both President George W Bush and President Donald Trump won the US presidential elections despite losing the popular vote.

In the 2000 election, Mr Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore despite Mr Gore having more than 500,000 more votes. In 2016, the gulf between the electoral college and the popular vote was substantially wider; Mr Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.

Prior to 2000, the last time a president lost the popular vote but won the election was when President Benjamin Harrison won against Grover Cleveland in 1888. Whether Mr Trump’s and Mr Bush’s victories are flukes or indicative of inherent flaws in the system hasn’t changed its popularity among voters.

According to Gallup, a majority of American poll respondents have favoured a Constitutional amendment to adopt a nationwide popular vote – thus eliminating the electoral college – since 1944. The only exception to that was a poll taken in late November 2016, just after Mr Trump’s victory, during which Americans were evenly split on the topic.

Since World War II, the electoral college has almost always been opposed by the majority of the American people.

Why does the US keep the system?
First and foremost, because smaller states that have inflated voting power granted by the system vote to ensure they don’t lose that power. Even without smaller states working against the changes, abolishing the electoral college would still require an amendment to the US Constitution, which is an enormous obstacle in and of itself. While it would be difficult, it wouldn’t be impossible – the electoral college has been changed three times in the past via Constitutional amendment – but it would require broad majorities in Congress.

Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act S.3599/HR6788 will address shortage of Doctors in USA: AAPI

“AAPI supports the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act S.3599/ HR6788, introduced by Senators Durbin, Perdue, Young, Coons addressing Shortage of doctors, nurses, and urges the Congress to approve the bill and allow the thousands of immigrant Indian American doctors on green card backlog to bolster the American health care system and extend their patient care whole-heartedly without disruption,” said Dr. Suresh Reddy, President of AAPI.

Dr. Reddy was responding to the Bill. the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, introduced by U.S. Senate Democrats Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, along with Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Chris Coons (D-DE), which recaptures 15,000 green cards to provide a temporary stopgap to quickly address our nation’s shortage of doctors. This legislation will help underserved communities with physician shortage to recruit more physicians and thus effectively extend health care coverage.

The Health care Resilience Act S.3599/ HR6788 would recapture 25,000 unused immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 unused immigrant visas for Physicians. This would help the American health care force to mobilize the medical professionals to the areas of health care needs.

Healthcare continues to be at the center of the national debate, especially in the context of the global Corona Virus pandemic affecting millions of people in the United States. This deadly virus has claimed lives of many healthcare professionals who are in the frontline caring for the hundreds of thousands of patients affected by this disease.

An estimated 800,000 legal immigrants who are working in the United States are waiting for green card. This unprecedented backlog in employment-based immigration has fueled a bitter policy debate but has been largely ignored by the Congress. Most of those waiting for employment-based green cards which would allow them to stay in the United States are of Indian origin. The backlog among this group is so acute that an Indian national who applies for a green card now can expect to wait up to 50 years to obtain it. The wait is largely due to the annual per-country quota immigration law, which has been unchanged since 1990.

This heightened demand for physicians will only continue to grow, and will soon outpace supply leading to a projected shortfall of nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032. Thus, recapturing the unused visas/Green cards that are available for International Medical Graduates is critical to addressing this mounting shortage of physicians.

Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act S.3599/HR6788 will address shortage of Doctors in USA: AAPIIn a detailed report on Green Card delays affecting Indian American physicians, the Green Card Backlog Task Force by AAPI had pointed out that there are over 10,000 Physicians waiting for Green Card for decades. AAPI members would like to see the Green Card backlog addressed, which it says has adversely impacted the Indian American community. During their annual Legislative Day on Capitol Hill, they have stressed the need for bipartisan efforts in passing the Health care Resilience Act, which will recapture and provide Green Cards for physicians serving in America’s under-served and rural communities.

“Consider this: one-sixth of our health care workforce is foreign-born. Immigrant nurses and doctors play a vital role in our health care system, and their contributions are now more crucial than ever. Where would we be in this pandemic without them? It is unacceptable that thousands of doctors currently working in the U.S. on temporary visas are stuck in the green card backlog, putting their futures in jeopardy and limiting their ability to contribute to the fight against COVID-19,” said Sen. Durbin.

“This bipartisan, targeted, and timely legislation will strengthen our health care workforce and improve health care access for Americans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support these vital health care workers,” the Senator from Illinois pointed out.

“The growing shortage of doctors and nurses over the past decade has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Sen. Perdue.  “Fortunately, there are thousands of trained health professionals who want to practice in the United States.  This proposal would simply reallocate a limited number of unused visas from prior years for doctors and nurses who are qualified to help in our fight against COVID-19.  This shortage is critical and needs immediate attention so that our healthcare facilities are not overwhelmed in this crisis.”

Specifically, the Senators’ proposal:

  • Recaptures unused visas/green cards from previous fiscal years for doctors, nurses, and their families
  • Exempts these visas/green cards from country caps
  • Requires employers to attest that immigrants from overseas who receive these visas will not displace an American worker
  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to expedite the processing of recaptured visas
  • Limits the filing period for recaptured visas to 90 days following the termination of the President’s COVID-19 emergency declaration

“AAPI joins other similar organizations including American Medical Association, Illinois Health and Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, American Organization for Nursing Leadership, Physicians for American Healthcare Access, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and National Immigration Forum, that have come in support of The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act,” said Dr. Sampat Shivangi, Chair of AAPI’s Legislative Committee.

Dr. Seema Arora, Chair of the Board of Trustees of AAPI, urged the members of Congress to include physicians graduating from U.S. residency programs for Green Cards in the comprehensive immigration reform bill. “Physicians graduating from accredited U.S. residency programs should also receive similar treatment. Such a proposal would enable more physicians to be eligible for Green Cards and address the ongoing physician shortage,” she said.

Dr. Sudhakar Jonnalgadda, President-Elect of AAPI, said, “AAPI has once again succeeded in bringing to the forefront many important health care issues facing the physician community and raising our voice unitedly before the US Congress members.”

Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act S.3599/HR6788 will address shortage of Doctors in USA: AAPI“AAPI welcomes this bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Perdue, Durbin, Young and Coons; the bill would help address the critical healthcare shortage in the United States, a weakness that has been evident during the COVID-19 national emergency,” said Dr. Anupama Gotimukula, Vice President of AAPI.

“The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act recognizes the importance and the need of immigrant doctors, nurses and their families. At this critical time, addressing shortages in the health care workforce is imperative.  By ensuring unused visas do not go waste, the bill will help doctors, nurses and their families, who have been waiting in line, immigrate sooner,” said Dr. Raghuveer Kurra, Chair of AAPI Committee on Green Card Backlog.

“Thousands of Indian-American Physicians have been affected by the backlog for Green Card. This negatively impacted their ability to work and provide the much-needed health care services for the people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across the nation,” said Dr. Ram Sanjeev Alur, Co-Chair, AAPI Committee on Green Card Backlog. “These Indian physicians constitute less than one percent of the country’s population, but account for nine percent of the American physicians. One out of every seven doctors serving in the US health care system is of Indian heritage. These Indian origin Physicians provide medical care to over 40 million American population living in rural and underserved areas,” added Dr. Pavan Panchavati, Co-Chair, AAPI Committee on Green Card Backlog.

Dr. Ravi Kolli, Secretary of AAPI, said, “Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. was already facing a serious shortage of physicians largely due to growth, aging of the population and the impending retirements of many physicians.” Raj Bhayani, Treasurer of AAPI, pointed out, “This shortage was dramatically highlighted by the lack of physicians in certain key areas during the COVID-19 pandemic which forced states to recall retired physicians, expand physicians’ scope of practice, and amend out of state licensing laws.”

AAPI has recently heard calls from New York , New Jersey and California for physicians from out of state to help them care for patients, and there will be more areas of need in these states and also nationally who certainly will need additional physician force for staffing  their hospitals, fever clinics, COVID care centers and Emergency rooms in near future.

 According to Dr. Suresh Reddy, “AAPI has been consistent in bringing many important health care issues faced by the physician community and raising our voice unitedly before the US Congress members. we have been able to discover our own potential and have been playing an important role in shaping the health of each patient with a focus on health maintenance rather than disease intervention. AAPI is also instrumental in crafting the health care delivery in the most efficient manner and has been striving for equality in health care globally.”

For more details on AAPI and its legislative agenda, please visit: www.aapiusa.org

Biden Leads Nationally and in Crucial Swing States

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, leads President Trump in most national polls, and surveys conducted even this far out have tended to roughly resemble the eventual general election results, as FiveThirtyEight’s Geoffrey Skelley explained in an article this week. Of course, national polls measure the national popular vote, which is really only indirectly related to who will win the White House — Democrats have won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College in two of the last seven elections and could do so again in 2020. U.S. presidential elections are really a contest of states.

Several polling firms released surveys of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in April. Former President Barack Obama carried all four states in 2012. Trump flipped all four in 2016 (as well as Ohio and Iowa, neither of which has much recent polling.) And Biden appears to lead in all four now. (North Carolina, which has gone Republican in both of the last two cycles, was also polled pretty often in April, with Trump and Biden looking basically tied there.)

A new Marquette Law School poll finds former Vice President Joe Biden with a 46% to 43% lead over President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, reports CNN.  The poll matches the last poll from Marquette, which also had Biden up by 3 points in Wisconsin.

One of the big questions when we look at national polls is whether or not they’re an accurate representation of what is going on at the state level. One of the easiest ways to check is to compare state poll results to the past presidential vote in a given state. I did so for all telephone polls that called cell phones since the beginning of April.  When we average out these state polls, they suggest that Biden’s running about 6 points ahead of Hillary Clinton’s final margin.

 

“In other words, the state level polls suggest that Biden has a national lead of around 8 points.

That’s actually a little greater than the 6.6 points Biden has in the high quality national polling average taken during the same period,” wrote Harry Enten, CNN. “I should note that if we weight the average of state polls to each state’s population, we get a margin just north of that 6.6 point mark. (Weighting by population leaves us somewhat more susceptible to outlier polls, as we have fewer polls from the most populated states.)  Either way, all methods agree that Biden has a fairly sizable national advantage.”

Examining the state polls has the advantage of having a lot more data points to play with, so I feel fairly secure that they’re giving us a decent snapshot. We’re looking at more than 20 polls and more than 15,000 interviews. The aggregate margin of error is small.

The presidential race in key states according to early polls

Average margin in states where at least 3 polls were conducted in April

State Number of polls Biden Trump Average Margin
North Carolina 5 47% 46% D+1.0
Wisconsin 4 48 44 D+3.3
Florida 4 47 43 D+3.5
Pennsylvania 5 48 43 D+5.4
Michigan 8 49 43 D+6.1
U.S. 50 48 42 D+6.4

Includes polls conducted partly in March 2020 but finished in April. Polls that released results among multiple populations were included only once, counting the narrowest sample — registered voters over adults, and likely voters over registered voters.

Source: Polls

Additionally, we can look at states we expect to be at least somewhat competitive (i.e. those where the margin was within 10 points last time) and those that we don’t think will be close in 2020.

In the competitive states (where most of the state polling has been conducted), there has been an average swing of 6 points toward Biden compared to Clinton’s 2016 result. The same is true in the non-competitive states.

At least from this state level data, it does not seem that either candidate is running up the score disproportionately in areas that were already friendly to him.

Biden has posted leads of greater than 5 points in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania. He is ahead in more than enough states to capture 270 electoral votes, if the election were held today.

We can test our data, too, to see what would happen if the polls are underestimating Trump like they did in 2016.

Biden would still be ahead, even with a 2016 sized mishap. The polls underestimated Trump by 1 point (RealClearPolitics) or 2 points (FiveThirtyEight) in the aggregate of the states we currently have polling from. Applying that 2016 bias to our current data, Biden would have a 6- to 7-point lead nationally.

Biden’s margins in these states are slightly smaller than his advantage in national polls. It’s worth thinking about the race at the state level in these relative terms because there’s still so much time for things to shift. If Biden’s lead nationally narrowed to 2 to 3 percentage points, these states would likely be much closer, if not lean toward Trump. Also, as The New York Times’ Nate Cohn wrote recently, Trump is likely to look stronger when pollsters start limiting their results to “likely voters.” Most of the April surveys in these four states were conducted among registered voters or all adults, two groups that include some people who may not vote in November.4

In other words, this data suggests Trump may have an Electoral College advantage again — he could lose the popular vote and win the election. Of course, this data also suggests that if Biden is winning overall by a margin similar to his advantage now, Trump’s potential Electoral College edge really won’t matter.

Concentrating on just the competitive states, the polls undersold Trump by 2 points (RealClearPolitics) or 3 points (FiveThirtyEight). If the polls in the competitive states were off by as much as they were at the end in 2016, Biden would still be ahead in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Of course, it may not be wise to expect a 2016-sized polling era in 2020. The polls in these states that had major statewide contests in 2018 were pretty much unbiased. No matter what set of states (all or just competitive) and which aggregate, the polls were not more favorable to Republicans than the final result.

In a state like Wisconsin, the final 2018 Marquette poll nailed the final Senate margin and underestimated the Democratic candidate for governor’s margin by 1 point.

The bottom line is Biden’s ahead right now nationally and in the competitive states. The good news for Trump is he has about six months to change the course of the campaign, which is more than enough time to do so.