Half of U.S. Adults Approve of Trump’s Felony Conviction as Election Nears, AP-NORC Poll Finds

About half of U.S. adults approve of Donald Trump’s recent felony conviction, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The survey reveals both potential vulnerabilities and resilience in Trump’s support as he aims to become the first American with a felony record to win the presidency.

With less than five months until Election Day, the poll depicts a nation with firmly entrenched views of the divisive former Republican president. Overall opinions of Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden remain unchanged since Trump’s guilty verdict in his New York hush money trial.

However, the findings also suggest Trump’s conviction is a weakness among disaffected Republicans. While most Americans are aware of the conviction, political independents are less likely to be paying attention and more likely to have a neutral opinion of Trump’s conviction, indicating campaigns may still sway them.

Nancy Hauser, a 74-year-old independent from West Palm Beach, Florida, approves of Trump’s conviction based on the little she followed of the trial. The verdict suggests to her that Trump may engage in criminal activity if back in the White House. “I feel if you’ve been convicted of a crime, especially a felony, a serious crime, how can you run a country?” she said. However, she also has concerns about Biden, especially his age and leadership on the economy and the war in Israel. Biden is 81, while Trump turns 78 on Friday. “I’m not sure who I’m voting for,” Hauser said. “That’s the sad part.”

Overall, U.S. adults are more likely to approve of Trump’s conviction than disapprove, according to a survey of 1,115 adults nationwide conducted over three days beginning a week after the verdict was delivered on May 30, and before Biden’s son Hunter was convicted in a federal gun case on Tuesday. About 3 in 10 somewhat or strongly disapprove of Trump’s conviction, and about 2 in 10 neither approve nor disapprove. Registered voters’ perspectives were similar, with about half saying the conviction was the right choice.

Republicans are less united on the verdict than Democrats. Roughly 6 in 10 Republicans somewhat or strongly disapprove of the conviction, while 15% of Republican adults approve, and about 2 in 10 Republicans neither approve nor disapprove. In contrast, more than 8 in 10 Democrats somewhat or strongly approve.

About half of Americans say the conviction was politically motivated, while a similar share think it was not. Nearly half of Republicans who have an unfavorable view of Trump do not see the conviction as politically motivated, compared with less than 1 in 10 Republicans who have a positive opinion of him.

Overall opinions of Trump have barely changed. About 6 in 10 U.S. adults have an unfavorable opinion of Trump, consistent with an AP-NORC poll from February. Four in 10 have a favorable view of Trump, also largely unchanged since February.

The numbers for Biden are equally poor: 4 in 10 U.S. adults have a favorable view of the Democratic president, while about 6 in 10 have a negative one.

Ron Schwartz, a 59-year-old moderate Republican from Dallas, said Trump was “probably guilty” of the alleged crimes, though he believes politics played a major role in the case. He thinks the charges should not have been felonies, a crime level that blocks those convicted from owning guns or voting in many states. Still, Schwartz plans to vote for Trump, as he did in the past two presidential elections, despite serious concerns about the former president’s character. “I think he’s a disgusting human being,” Schwartz said. “But he has some good policies and good ideas.”

Independents are split on Trump overall: About 4 in 10 have a positive view, while a similar share have a negative view. Nearly half did not express a strong opinion on the conviction, saying they neither approve nor disapprove.

Cassi Carey, a 60-year-old independent from suburban Milwaukee, said the conviction does not reflect well on Trump, though she acknowledges she was not paying close attention to the specifics. “I think Trump is a terrible choice for our country because of his divisiveness,” Carey said. She also lamented Biden’s advanced age, who turns 82 in November. “Someday in my lifetime, I want very much to be able to vote for a candidate and not against a candidate,” she said.

Overall, Americans are more likely to see Trump’s conviction as bad for the nation. About 4 in 10 adults describe it as a bad thing for the country, while about one-third say it was a good thing, and about 2 in 10 say it is neither. Regarding the U.S. democratic system, about 4 in 10 say the conviction is a good thing, with roughly the same share calling it a bad thing.

Trump continues to be overwhelmingly disliked by Democrats: 9 in 10 Democrats have an unfavorable view of him, with roughly 8 in 10 saying their opinion is “very unfavorable.” Democrat Oscar Baza, a 29-year-old Mexican immigrant from Los Angeles, said he approves of the Trump verdict, which he sees as evidence of “the judicial process working as it should.” “I just think it’s really worrisome that he’s on the ballot,” Baza said. “If you’ve been convicted of 34 counts of anything, you probably shouldn’t be leading anything; you should be going to therapy.”

The AP-NORC poll indicates that while Trump’s conviction has polarized opinions further, it has not significantly shifted overall views on him or Biden. Both candidates face challenges with their respective unfavorable ratings, and the upcoming election will likely see efforts to sway the undecided, particularly among independents.

G7 Summit 2024: Leaders Tackle Global Economic Stability, Climate Change, and Geopolitical Tensions in Italy

The Group of Seven (G7) nations will convene for the Leaders’ Summit in Italy’s Apulia region from June 13 to 15. Italy took over the group’s presidency earlier this year. The summit is particularly important as the G7—comprising Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union—grapples with various global issues. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, invited as an Outreach Country representative, will make his first international appearance in his third term at this summit.

The meeting’s agenda is extensive, focusing on upholding the “rules-based international system” in the face of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine, addressing conflicts in the Middle East, and bolstering partnerships with developing countries, particularly in Africa. Other critical priorities include migration, climate change, food security, and the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on society.

Origins and Evolution of the G7

The G7 originated from a 1973 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors in Paris, France, amidst significant economic turmoil, including an oil crisis, rising inflation, and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. This system had pegged the US dollar to gold, with other global currencies linked to the dollar. Over time, the dollar became overvalued, necessitating a new mechanism for exchange rates that required global cooperation. Hence, the idea of a forum for major industrialized democracies to coordinate economic policies was conceived. The first G7 summit was held in 1975 in Rambouillet, France, with leaders from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, and Japan. Canada joined the following year.

Since 1977, representatives of the European Economic Community, now the European Union, have also participated. The group expanded to the G8 in 1998 with Russia’s inclusion but reverted to the G7 in 2014 after Russia was suspended due to its annexation of Crimea.

Evolution and Relevance of the G7

Over the years, the G7 has evolved from an economic forum to one addressing a broad spectrum of global challenges. Although it lacks a permanent administrative structure, the G7 rotates its presidency annually, with the presidency serving as a temporary secretariat. The annual summit concludes with a communiqué outlining political commitments, significantly influencing global governance, agenda-setting, and decision-making processes.

However, the G7’s relevance has been questioned as its members’ combined share of global GDP has declined. A Bruegel think tank analysis titled “The G7 is dead, long live the G7” noted that this share dropped from around 50% in the 1970s to about 30% in 2018. The economic rise of China, India, and other emerging economies has sparked calls for a more representative global governance structure. In contrast, the G20, established in response to the 2008 financial crisis, is seen as a more inclusive forum. Bruegel argued that the G20’s creation underscored the G7’s inadequacy in handling modern crises. However, due to its size, the G20 was considered “too big and heterogeneous to make decisions when not mired in deep crisis.”

Bruegel proposed a reconfigured G7+ that would include a common euro-zone representative and make room for China, India, and Brazil, thereby better reflecting the current global economic landscape in terms of both GDP and population.

There are also concerns about the G7’s internal cohesion. For instance, former US President Donald Trump often clashed with other G7 leaders and skipped a climate meeting at the 2019 summit.

Despite these challenges, the G7 has made significant contributions to international policies, including coordinating economic strategies, promoting free and fair trade practices, shaping global governance issues, and supporting security cooperation and development assistance.

Key Issues at the 2024 G7 Summit

The upcoming G7 summit in Italy is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it aims to coordinate economic policies to stabilize the global economy amidst concerns over inflation and trade tensions. Secondly, the summit will focus on addressing climate change by discussing strategies to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable energy sources. With climate records recently being broken, collective action is crucial.

Thirdly, learning from the Covid-19 pandemic, the G7 will prioritize global health initiatives, including pandemic preparedness and vaccine distribution. Additionally, the summit will address geopolitical tensions, particularly concerning relations with China and Russia, and ongoing conflicts with global implications. Lastly, the G7 will explore regulating emerging technologies, data privacy, and cybersecurity to ensure they benefit global development.

The G7’s ability to adapt to changing global dynamics and address contemporary challenges will be crucial for its continued relevance. The outcomes of this year’s summit will provide insight into how the group intends to navigate the complex issues facing the world today.

Swing States to Decide 2024 Presidential Election: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in Focus

In this year’s U.S. presidential election, about 240 million people are eligible to vote, but the outcome is expected to hinge on a small number of swing states. Experts identify Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin as the crucial battlegrounds that could determine whether Democratic President Joe Biden or his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, wins the White House.

Both parties are concentrating their efforts on these states to sway undecided voters. Here’s an in-depth look at each of these pivotal states:

Arizona

In 2020, Biden won Arizona, marking the first time since the 1990s that the state supported a Democratic presidential candidate. The state, which shares a long border with Mexico, has been central to the national immigration debate. During Biden’s tenure, border crossings hit record highs, creating significant political challenges. Although crossings have decreased recently, Biden has adopted a tougher stance, planning border shutdowns during surges.

Trump has capitalized on Biden’s immigration record, promising to conduct “the largest deportation operation” in U.S. history if re-elected. Arizona also became a flashpoint over abortion rights after state Republicans attempted to revive a near-total abortion ban from 160 years ago. The issue gained national prominence after the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

Georgia

Georgia is one of the states where Trump-backed Republicans tried to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory. Trump, along with 18 others, faces charges of conspiring to overturn his narrow loss in the state, although he denies any wrongdoing. This legal battle adds complexity to his campaign, particularly after his hush-money trial ended in a guilty verdict.

Georgia has a significant African-American population, which played a crucial role in Biden’s 2020 win. However, there is growing disillusionment among Black voters, who feel insufficient progress has been made on racial justice and economic issues. Whether this impacts voter turnout in 2024 remains to be seen.

Michigan

Michigan, a key state in the last two elections, has become a symbol of the backlash against Biden’s support for Israel during its conflict with Gaza. During the state’s Democratic primary, over 100,000 voters chose the “uncommitted” option, influenced by activists advocating for a U.S. ceasefire in Gaza and a halt to military aid to Israel. Michigan’s large Arab-American community’s support for Biden is now uncertain.

Trump has underscored Michigan’s importance for his path to victory, urging Israel to expedite its campaign against Hamas in Gaza. The state’s electoral significance remains high as both parties vie for support in this crucial region.

Nevada

Nevada, traditionally a Democratic stronghold in recent elections, shows signs of shifting towards the Republicans. Polling averages from 538 indicate Trump currently leads Biden in the state. Both candidates are focusing on winning over Nevada’s substantial Latino population.

Despite national economic growth under Biden, Nevada’s post-COVID recovery has lagged, with the state posting the highest unemployment rate in the country at 5.1%. Trump’s campaign promises a return to lower taxes and deregulation, appealing to voters dissatisfied with the current economic situation.

Pennsylvania

Like many Americans, Pennsylvanians are grappling with inflation-driven cost-of-living increases, particularly in grocery prices, which have risen faster there than in any other state. Erie, a bellwether county, exemplifies these struggles, with one in eight residents facing food insecurity.

Pennsylvania was crucial in Biden’s 2020 victory, buoyed by his personal connection to Scranton, a working-class city. However, high inflation could jeopardize his support, as polls indicate voters have a negative view of the economy. Trump has attacked Biden on this issue, but he also faces competition from Republican primary rival Nikki Haley, who performed well in Pennsylvania.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s razor-thin margins in both 2016 and 2020 underscore its status as a key battleground. Third-party candidates could influence the outcome in such closely contested states. Polls suggest support for independents like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who aims to get on the ballot in Wisconsin and other states, might affect the vote shares of both major candidates.

Trump has emphasized Wisconsin’s importance, saying, “if we win Wisconsin, we win the whole thing.” The state will host the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, highlighting its strategic significance. Biden, meanwhile, touts new investments like a Microsoft data center as evidence of his job-creating efforts, contrasting his record with Trump’s unfulfilled promises.

The fate of the 2024 presidential election hinges on a handful of swing states. Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin will likely determine the next occupant of the White House. Both Biden and Trump face unique challenges and opportunities in these critical battlegrounds, making their campaigns’ efforts to win over undecided and disillusioned voters crucial for victory.

Ashwin Ramaswami Wants To Talk About Religion More, Not Less

(RNS) — Whether studying computer science at Stanford or technology law at Georgetown, working for the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or, as now, running for Georgia’s state Senate, Ashwin Ramaswami has always made sure to prioritize four things every day: morning hatha yoga practice and three daily meditations — morning, noon and evening.

Ashwin Ramaswami’s state Senate campaign carries with it broader national themes of election protection and Hindus’ emerging presence in American politics.

The 24-year-old Hindu Indian American and Democrat is running against Republican incumbent Shawn Still for the 48th District in the Georgia Senate. While local in the sense of the issues the candidates are running on, the race has broader national themes of election protection — not least because Still, who was indicted along with former President Donald Trump on allegations of interfering in the 2020 presidential election in Georgia — and Hindus’ emergence as a presence in American politics.

“Because my opponent was one of the folks whose actions led to what happened on Jan. 6,” said Ramaswami, “there’s this broader idea that we want to protect democracy, and we need people who can speak truth to power.”

It was while he was working for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to protect elections that Ramaswami learned his own state senator had been indicted. “I was among a small team working to protect elections,” said Ramaswami. “And here was this person, representing my area, doing the opposite.”

Born to South Indian immigrants in Johns Creek, Georgia, a suburb north of Atlanta, Ramaswami grew up with the juxtaposition of computers and faith, with parents who worked in information technology and belonged to the local Hindu community. While learning to code in high school, he also taught Sunday school, and at Stanford, while earning a computer science degree, he learned Sanskrit, the language of many Hindu sacred texts. At Georgetown, he helped raise $100,000 to establish an endowment for the university’s dharmic programs.

Ramaswami’s meditation and yoga habits began in high school, when he started his practice every morning at 4 a.m. “That really changed my life,” he said. “It showed me the value of discipline, but it also gave me my own purpose in life, which was to better understand my own tradition and who I am.”

Seva, the Hindu concept of service, helped inspire him to run for office, and he thinks faith has much to add to politics, which he thinks of as a way to change hearts and minds. Religion should not be overlooked as a means to achieve that, he said, pointing to Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi as role models.

Interfaith dialogue and religious literacy, too, are critical for healthy communities. “Too often our communities are isolated,” said Ramaswami. “People from different countries or religions mostly keep to themselves and don’t talk to each other as much. Through interfaith work, we realize people share a lot of the same values and face the same challenges.”

One of Ramaswami’s priorities is well-being, physical, mental and spiritual. He hopes to dedicate resources for the community’s spiritual and emotional well-being and find ways for the public school system to create community.

“I think everyone, regardless of what religion they are, is always thinking about ‘what’s my purpose in life,’” said Ramaswami. “A society which doesn’t provide avenues for investigating those questions is not going to be a successful society.”

He wants to bring this missing element to politics. “When role models are openly talking about values, religion and what matters to them, that will help the next generation and everyone to make sure that they’re spiritually fulfilled as well,” he said.

Indian Americans, the largest group of South Asian Americans in the country, historically have had little representation in American politics, but their numbers are on the rise in Congress, beginning with the 2013 election of Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu House member, and on the executive level with Kamala Harris’ vice presidency and Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley’s 2024 presidential campaigns. Organizations like Indian American Impact have been established in recent years to elevate the voices of Indian Americans.

“Since Impact was founded in 2016, representation of our communities has increased from approximately 50 elected officials to more than 300 nationwide,” said an Impact spokesperson.

The increase is driven by several converging factors, according to Impact. The children of the first large wave of South Asian immigrants from the 1960s and 1970s are now awakening to their political power, reaching an age where they can leverage resources and opportunities necessary to run for office. As more and more leaders step up to run for office, they inspire others to follow suit.

“The growth of our communities as a voting bloc and their influence on American politics have also motivated many to run,” the spokesperson added, “as they’re driven by a desire to serve their community and supported by its collective strength.”

Hindus only make up about 1% of Georgia’s population, according to Pew Research Center, but 30% of the voting population of Ramaswami’s state Senate District 48 is described as Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander, half of them South Asian. Last year, Georgia’s General Assembly passed a resolution condemning Hinduphobia, and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp established Hindu Heritage Month.

District 48’s recent history reflects this increasing diversity. In 2018, Iranian American Zahra Karinshak won the seat, and in 2020, the district elected Chinese American Michelle Au. Both are Democrats. But after the 2020 redistricting cycle, District 48 was redrawn and Still was elected in 2022. Local political observers said Ramaswami nonetheless has a chance come November.

“This is potentially now a swing district,” said Georgia state Rep. Sam Park, who has endorsed Ramaswami. “Someone of Ashwin’s caliber has a fighting chance of beating this fake elector.”

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said District 48 appeals to ethnically diverse, younger newcomers with its good schools, green space and Atlanta’s strong job market. He predicts the district will become more Democratic over the next decade due to the changing demographics.

If Ramaswami doesn’t win this year, he might have a much better chance in 2026. “He might be able to flip this district back,” said Bullock. “There’s a chance.”

Varanasi: Back to the Future of India

If the people of India were asked about their preferred tryst with destiny, what would they say? Hoping to find an uninterrupted connection with ancient India, I arrived in Varanasi last spring and discovered so much more. In the 2nd century BCE Varanasi (and neighboring Sarnath), the capital city of the ancient kingdom of Kashi, attracted and cultivated faith pluralism, multi-disciplinary and open discourse, commerce, and trade rivaling that of a modern metropolis anywhere in the world today. Three hundred years before Pericles and Athenian democracy, ancient Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges, surrounded by quiet woodland where deer and peacocks roamed wild, served as the beacon of enlightenment.

Sarnath was embraced by Siddhartha Gautama, and it is where he delivered his first sermon in 6th century BCE. Though weathered by time and disrepair, the Varanasi I witnessed was still scintillating as a microcosm of today’s India and breathtaking in divine inspiration.

A city of temples, enchanted ghats, brightly painted wooden boats plying the sacred Ganges, seven priests lifting in unison fairy lights to Ganga Aarti every day at dawn and at dusk. Yet, all coexisting seamlessly with numerous mosques, churches, and Buddhist temples built by Japan, Thailand, Tibet, and other Buddhist nations. A people living a heightened spirituality among mundane domesticity, the city offers a temple for Mother India that was commissioned by Mahatma Gandhi.

Varanasi’s distinct neighborhoods are mapped according to the diverse heritage of congregants from each Indian State from Bengal to Gujarat to Telangana to Punjab.

Varanasi symbolizes a multi-faith nation thriving in unison and a Hindu way of life that is unadulterated and yet perfectly adept at modernizing. Not included among India’s economic hub cities, Varanasi, the de facto heartland, remains untouched by the hyper-paced modernization that is underway in other parts of India. Unknown to Varanasi is the identity crisis afflicting India’s large cities and their conflict with Westernization.

During my visit to Varanasi, I indulged in conversations that stoked my imagination of what is possible in India’s future. Heartened by the sophisticated and global perspective of those that I met, I came away with an understanding of the average Varanasi resident’s aspirations, which is gainful employment and a modest standard of living in their hometown. This should be the nominal expectation of a free people, but it stands in stark contrast with the heightened expectations of the globetrotting Indian diaspora.

Disconnected from the day-to-day travails of India’s multitude, the diaspora’s shared discourse is India’s preeminence as a global power, while overlooking the investments and market reforms necessary to achieve that. What then, does a road map to prosperity look like that matches the expectations of the people I interacted with in Varanasi?

First, simulating the export-driven Chinese growth narrative of the last thirty years that plowed its profits into domestic mega infrastructure projects and mercantilism abroad is not the best fit for India. Inspired by their tradition, but modern in execution, the average Indian appears to prefer economic growth that is local rather than a nationwide scale up.

Indeed, some Varanasi residents were vexed by the clean-up campaign and the construction of an expressway connecting their airport to the city’s hotel district, which showcased the city to the recent G20 summiteer. Creating few local jobs, the project primarily benefited politically connected out-of-state contractors.

Second, despite the strides made in lifting 500 million poor into a burgeoning middle class and some in the middle class into stratospheric wealth, prosperity remains inaccessible to the vast swath of Indians. This was palpable in Varanasi during my visit. Additionally, key economic indicators reported in 2023, both by the Indian government and by the World Bank, point to the disparities as well as the challenges that lie ahead. The country simply has not produced enough jobs in order for a large cross section of its population to be gainfully employed.

On the other hand, India’s economy has the potential to benefit from a significant “demographic dividend” – the average age of the population being only 25 years. Thus, government policies that impede private sector job growth may stand in the way of realizing this benefit.

Currently only about half of India’s population is employed, which is at a lower percentage than the global labor force participation rate at 65% and a Chinese rate of 76%. Additionally, India’s 10% unemployment rate accounting for those that are in the workforce is significantly higher than most developing countries. To wit, India’s 2023 GDP at $3.7 trillion, the fifth largest in the world, is no reason for celebration, as India also has a population of 1.4 billion, the world’s largest.

Third, propelling the economy at the 9-11% rate experienced by China for three decades will require bolder market reform. Perhaps what is needed is a second phase of the ambitious reforms undertaken by the Indian government in the 1990s and early 2000s, which dramatically expanded the private markets and made modern India possible. Today, there is an uptick in foreign investments into India as global investors flee China’s geopolitical risk; however, the same investors have diversified their relocation to multiple smaller countries instead of just choosing India.

India is unable to prevail in this competition despite its significant domestic market, a growing skilled workforce, and the largest working age population. Nevertheless, the current flux in the global supply chain is an opportunity for India, provided that priority is given to local economies such as Varanasi (not just a few big cities) and small business growth (rather than a few large monopolies), both of which are the economic lifeline for a majority of Indians.

Visiting Varanasi, I have two takeaways. The infectious hopefulness of the people despite the day-to-day difficulties they face and the entrepreneurial spirit of the youth who are not willing to limit their dreams to the legacy of the previous generation. This, in and of itself, builds a nation that has long envisioned.

Its tryst with destiny. Yet, despite the gift of a magnificent heritage, India’s potential has failed to materialize in parity with the enlightenment of its past. But then again, the India of tomorrow is still unfolding and that is something to look forward to.

(Sue (Sutapa) Ghosh Stricklett is an Indian American attorney. She practices national security law and defense technology trade at her Washington, DC law practice. She was appointed by President Donald Trump to serve as USAID Assistant Administrator, Asia. Her family has deep roots in Kolkata and in Murshidabad, West Bengal, which she has traced to the sixteenth century.)

Nate Silver Suggests Biden Should Consider Dropping Out of 2024 Race Amidst Record Low Approval Ratings

Nate Silver, the well-known election analyst and founder of “FiveThirtyEight,” suggested on Monday that President Biden’s recent disapproval ratings might prompt the Democratic frontrunner to reconsider his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.

“But Biden just hit a new all-time low in approval (37.4%) at 538 yesterday. Dropping out would be a big risk. But there’s some threshold below which continuing to run is a bigger risk. Are we there yet? I don’t know. But it’s more than fair to ask,” Silver posted on Monday.

Silver argued that Democrats might have had a stronger position if Biden had decided against running for a second term earlier. This decision could have allowed for a more competitive primary process among various popular Democrats nationwide.

“What’s clearer IMO is that Democrats would have been better served if Biden had decided a year ago not to seek a second term, which would have allowed them to have some semblance of a primary process and give voters a say among the many popular Democrats across the country,” he wrote.

Highlighting the unique nature of the current political situation, Silver noted the improbability of an 81-year-old president seeking re-election amidst widespread concerns about his age and enduring high inflation.

“If I’d told you 10 years ago a president would seek re-election at 81 despite a supermajority of Americans having concerns about his age, and then we’d hit 8% inflation for 2 years, you wouldn’t be surprised he was an underdog for reelection. You’d be surprised it was even close!,” he said.

Silver also responded to critics who suggested he should focus more on former President Trump. He clarified that he also believes Trump should exit the race, noting the significant challenges Biden faces in a head-to-head comparison.

“‘Trump should drop out too!’ is such [a] weird dunk on people who are pointing out that Biden has big challenges. Yes, Trump should drop out! I agree! Biden would lose by 7 points [against a different candidate], but I agree, the Republican Party and the country would be better served by a different nominee.” Silver wrote.

Despite these concerns, Biden and some of his top advisors reportedly do not believe the negative poll numbers.

A recent Fox News Poll indicates a tight race between Trump and Biden in Virginia, a state Biden won by a significant margin in 2020.

The poll, released last Thursday, shows both Biden and Trump with 48% each in a head-to-head matchup in the Old Dominion State.

Global Poll Shows Higher Confidence in Biden Over Trump Despite Waning Faith in U.S. Democracy

People in 34 countries around the globe have expressed greater confidence in President Joe Biden than in his opponent, former President Donald Trump, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday. Despite this, there is growing skepticism about whether U.S. democracy serves as a suitable model for the rest of the world.

The survey found that a median of 43% in the surveyed nations trust Biden to handle world affairs appropriately, compared to 28% for Trump. Biden received more favorable assessments than Trump in 24 countries, while Trump led in Hungary and Tunisia. The two men were effectively tied in eight other countries.

The increased confidence in Biden comes amid a decline in global faith in U.S. democracy. While a median of 54% across the 34 countries polled view the U.S. positively, a median of four in ten believe that U.S. democracy was once a good example for other nations but no longer is. Only a median of 21% believe U.S. democracy remains a good example, with an almost equal share, 22%, saying it never has been. Since the spring of 2021, the only other time Pew asked this question, the share of those who believe U.S. democracy is a good example has fallen in eight countries, mostly in Europe.

“People just don’t see the U.S. political system as functioning very well,” said Richard Wike, director of global attitudes research for Pew. “People see the U.S. as really divided along partisan lines.”

There is a far smaller global divide between Trump and Biden. Confidence in Biden to do the right thing in world affairs has decreased since his first year in office but remains significantly higher than that of Trump, who had relatively low global ratings during his presidency. Biden’s lowest confidence ratings were for his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, with a median of 57% expressing no confidence in his approach.

A median of 39% in the surveyed countries approved of Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine, with his highest ratings in European nations. Approximately four in ten were confident in his handling of China.

Of the five leaders rated in the survey, French President Emmanuel Macron had the highest level of confidence, just ahead of Biden, while Russian President Vladimir Putin received the lowest.

Confidence in Biden has waned in countries such as South Africa, Israel, and the U.K., but it remains consistently higher than that in Trump. Trump’s lowest ratings were in Europe, where more than eight in ten adults in France, Germany, and Sweden expressed no confidence in him. He also received poor ratings in Latin America.

Africa, which Wike noted tends to have positive views of U.S. presidents, registered some of Trump’s best numbers. Even in the two countries where Trump had higher confidence ratings than Biden, the numbers were still low. In Tunisia, for instance, only 17% expressed confidence in Trump.

Hungary is the other country where adults reported higher confidence in Trump than Biden, but the endorsement was tepid. Trump has embraced Hungary and its autocratic prime minister, Viktor Orbán, yet only 37% of Hungarians expressed confidence in Trump, compared to 24% for Biden.

The median confidence in Trump’s ability to do the right thing in world affairs was only slightly higher across the 34 countries than it was for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Key Voters in 2024: How American Catholics Could Decide the Presidential Election

As the 2024 presidential election looms, predictions suggest a tight race, positioning American Catholics as potential key voters. Catholics represent a significant voting bloc, almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, with white Catholics leaning Republican and Hispanic Catholics favoring Democrats. Their substantial presence in pivotal battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada amplifies their influence on the election outcome.

This demographic makeup renders Catholics a reliable barometer for electoral success, as they historically tend to vote for the winning candidate. Capturing the Catholic vote is often synonymous with securing the presidency.

Historically, Catholics were steadfast members of the Democratic coalition. This trend began in 1928 when New York Governor Al Smith, the first Catholic presidential candidate, was smeared with anti-Catholic propaganda by Protestant and Republican operatives, pushing Catholics towards the Democratic Party. Catholics subsequently supported Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal policies, deviating only to reelect Dwight Eisenhower for his second term in 1956. They resumed their Democratic allegiance by voting for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in 1960 and 1964, respectively.

Richard Nixon was the first to recognize an opportunity for Republicans to court Catholic voters. By 1968, many white Catholics had ascended to the middle class and moved to the suburbs, facing higher taxes and expressing opposition to affirmative action and school busing for integration. Ronald Reagan solidified this bond by adopting a pro-life stance in 1980, appealing to both Catholics and evangelical Christians.

In contemporary politics, Donald Trump taps into the same nativist sentiments that once targeted Catholic immigrants in the early 20th century. This appeal to many white Catholics reflects a disconnect from the discrimination faced by their forebears. Many working-class white Catholics in the Rust Belt, disillusioned by factory closures, feel abandoned by the Democrats.

Catholic bishops have largely aligned with the Republican Party, prioritizing the abortion issue. Despite Trump’s inconsistent stance on abortion, he appointed Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, a significant move for pro-life advocates. However, on issues like healthcare, immigration, environmental protection, and aid for the poor, bishops have criticized Republican policies and endorsed Democratic initiatives.

The bishops’ election-year document, “Faithful Citizenship,” underscores this dichotomy. It strongly emphasizes pro-life values while also advocating for the poor, though it has not been updated to reflect Pope Francis’ focus on global warming and environmental issues.

Unlike some prominent evangelical leaders, Catholic bishops refrain from endorsing candidates or parties. “You would never see a group of Catholic bishops praying over the president in the Oval Office.” According to the Pew Research Center, Catholics are less likely than other denominations to hear political messages from the pulpit. While some rogue bishops and priests garner media attention, most prefer to steer clear of political entanglements.

The reality is that few Catholics are swayed by the bishops’ pronouncements, even on abortion. Most laypeople have already formed their opinions. Political parties now bypass the bishops, targeting Catholics directly through political action groups supporting their candidates.

With the election expected to be as close as predicted, Catholics in swing states could be the decisive factor. Neither party can claim dominance over these voters, and a small shift in their support could determine the election’s outcome.

Several critical questions arise: Will anger and frustration push Catholics towards Trump, or will his authoritarian tendencies deter them? Will concerns about inflation and the economy drive their votes, or will they prefer stability with ongoing progress? Will they attribute current problems to the president or the “do nothing” Congress?

As the election approaches, the potential influence of Catholic voters remains a pivotal factor. Their historical voting patterns and evolving political alignments underscore their significance in a closely contested race. Both parties will need to carefully consider their appeals to this crucial demographic, recognizing the complex and varied concerns that drive Catholic voters.

India’s General Election Upset: Opposition Celebrates as Modi’s BJP Falls Short

India’s recent general election results have sparked an unusual interpretation. While the victors maintain a subdued demeanor, the runners-up are in celebratory spirits.

The NDA alliance, helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clinched a historic third term in power, securing over 290 seats in the 543-member parliament. However, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone fell short of the crucial 272-seat mark required for forming a government independently. Consequently, Modi’s leadership is perceived as significantly weakened.

Conversely, the outcome signals a remarkable resurgence for the opposition INDIA alliance and its face, Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi. Despite falling short of the majority with just over 230 seats, they are yet to concede defeat even after more than 24 hours since the vote counting began.

Political analyst Rashid Kidwai describes the outcome as extraordinary, emphasizing the unexpected success of the opposition. He notes, “The result is surprising. The opposition has managed to pull off the unexpected.”

The Congress party, in its jubilant response, labels the verdict as “a moral and political defeat for Mr. Modi,” whose campaign heavily relied on his personal brand and track record. Gandhi, addressing a press conference, asserts, “The country has unanimously sent a message to Mr. Modi and [Home Minister] Amit Shah that we do not want you.”

The exuberance of the opposition finds its roots in a turbulent backdrop. Prior to the elections, the opposition appeared fragmented, with the Congress-led INDIA bloc, comprising over two dozen regional parties, facing internal strife. Experts questioned their ability to challenge Modi’s seemingly invincible position.

In the lead-up to the elections, the opposition encountered numerous obstacles. Government agencies raided parties and leaders, two chief ministers were incarcerated, including Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi, and Congress’s bank accounts were frozen by tax authorities.

Analyst Rashid Kidwai credits much of the opposition’s performance to Rahul Gandhi, despite his lineage drawing substantial criticism. Gandhi, representing the fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, faced hostility from mainstream media and was portrayed as an unserious politician. However, Kidwai observes Gandhi’s efforts to reshape this perception through extensive outreach programs across the country.

Despite facing legal challenges, including a defamation conviction in Modi’s home state, Gandhi managed to rally support and transform his image. The BJP’s aggressive tactics to suppress the opposition inadvertently strengthened the resolve of the INDIA bloc.

Ajoy Bose, another political analyst, highlights the BJP’s miscalculations, asserting that their attempts to intimidate the opposition backfired. The fear of being marginalized led to the formation of the INDIA bloc, with echoes of past authoritarian measures fueling public discontent.

The election results reflect strong opposition in several states traditionally ruled by Modi’s party. Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party swept all 39 seats, while in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee limited the BJP to 12 seats, down from 18 in the previous election. Similarly, in Maharashtra, the BJP’s seat count reduced to nine from 23, with its former ally Shiv Sena securing 18 seats.

However, the most significant blow to Modi and the BJP came from Uttar Pradesh (UP). Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP), in alliance with Rahul Gandhi, secured 43 out of 80 seats, surpassing the BJP’s tally of 33. This alliance’s success defied Modi’s earlier dismissal of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav as ineffective.

Despite banking on the Ram Mandir temple as a trump card, symbolized by Modi’s inauguration of the temple in Ayodhya, the BJP suffered setbacks in key constituencies. Abhishek Yadav, an SP youth-wing leader, notes a shift in public sentiment against the BJP due to economic grievances and changes in military recruitment policies.

However, despite the opposition’s commendable performance, Rashid Kidwai believes there were missed opportunities due to gaps in their strategy. He suggests that forging alliances in states like Andhra Pradesh and Odisha could have bolstered the INDIA bloc’s position.

Looking ahead, Kidwai emphasizes the need for the opposition to consolidate its alliance and for Rahul Gandhi to assume leadership actively. He anticipates continued government scrutiny of the opposition but urges a more tempered approach from the ruling party. Coalition politics, with Congress leading the charge, is seen as essential for maintaining parliamentary balance.

In this context, the Gandhis must transition from being custodians of power to active leaders. Rahul Gandhi, in particular, is urged to embrace his role and guide the opposition coalition effectively.

Global Tensions and Political Shifts: Israel’s Hostage Rescue, Macron Dissolves Parliament, Trump Faces Probation Interview, Peltier’s Last Parole Bid, and Hair Loss Drug Concerns

Rescued Hostages, But the War Continues

Joy in Israel over the successful rescue of four hostages has quickly faded as the harsh realities of the ongoing nine-month war in Gaza persist. Despite the operation’s success, deep-seated divisions remain largely unchanged. The rescue operation on Saturday saw the liberation of four hostages, including Noa Argamani, who was abducted on October 7 during the Nova music festival—a moment captured on video. This success, however, came at a heavy cost. Gaza’s Health Ministry reported on Sunday that at least 270 Palestinians were killed and another 700 were injured, making it one of the bloodiest days in the conflict. Many more are believed to be buried under rubble.

In a significant political development, Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Israel’s war Cabinet. Gantz, a major political rival of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stated his resignation was due to the failure to establish a postwar plan for Gaza. In a televised address, Gantz accused Netanyahu of obstructing Israel’s path to “a real victory” and apologized to the families of the hostages, admitting, “we failed” to bring most of them home.

Macron Dissolves French Parliament

In a surprising political move, President Emmanuel Macron has decided to dissolve the lower house of France’s parliament, leaving the country’s political fate in the hands of voters. This decision follows a significant defeat for his party at the hands of the far right in the European Union’s parliamentary elections on Saturday. Marine Le Pen’s far-right, anti-immigration National Rally party outperformed Macron’s centrist, pro-European Renaissance party, according to projections by French opinion poll institutes.

Macron’s decision to call for new elections is a high-risk gamble. If an opposition party secures a majority in parliament, it could lead to a challenging cohabitation scenario, where Macron would have to appoint a prime minister from an opposing party, potentially leading to significant policy conflicts. Macron’s current term as president still has three years remaining. The legislative elections are scheduled to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.

Trump to Attend Probation Interview

Former President Donald Trump is set to participate in a virtual interview with a New York City probation officer today, a requirement following his guilty verdict in the hush money trial. Sources familiar with the situation said that Trump will conduct the interview from his Mar-a-Lago residence, with his attorney Todd Blanche present, using a specially secured virtual network.

Legal experts have noted the unusual nature of a probation interview conducted via video conference, yet acknowledged that having a former president visit a probation office in person would also be unprecedented. The interview could cover various topics related to Trump’s trial and sentencing.

Leonard Peltier’s Last Chance for Parole

Native American activist Leonard Peltier, who has consistently maintained his innocence in the murders of two FBI agents nearly 50 years ago, is scheduled for a full parole hearing today. This is Peltier’s first hearing in 15 years and is considered by his supporters to be his last chance for release. At 79 years old, Peltier’s age, declining health, and nonviolent behavior in prison are being emphasized by his attorney as reasons to grant parole.

Peltier was involved in a 1975 gunfight on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which resulted in the deaths of two FBI agents. His case has been the subject of extensive scrutiny regarding the investigation and trial procedures. Despite these concerns, the FBI remains firm in its opposition to Peltier’s release.

Surge in Hair Loss Medication Usage and Concerns

An increasing number of young men are turning to medication to prevent hair loss, sparking concerns about potential side effects. An NBC News report revealed that finasteride prescriptions have nearly tripled in the U.S. over the past seven years. A New York City dermatologist mentioned, “It’s like water in my clinic. I’m prescribing it all the time.”

While doctors generally consider the daily pill safe, it must be taken continuously to maintain its effects. Controversy surrounds the drug due to reports of impotence and other side effects that may persist even after discontinuing the medication. This has led to ongoing debates about the drug’s safety and the need for awareness about its potential risks.

Political Briefs

Abortion Rights:The Supreme Court is poised to rule on two major abortion cases this month, the first since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. One case involves the abortion pill mifepristone, and the other pertains to a near-total ban on abortion in Idaho. Supreme Court reporter Lawrence Hurley discusses the implications of these rulings.

Biden in France:During his visit to France, President Joe Biden sought to draw a stark contrast with his Republican rival, Donald Trump, without mentioning him by name. Biden’s five-day trip culminated in a visit to a cemetery imbued with political symbolism, underscoring his differences with Trump’s policies and approach.

These events illustrate a world grappling with significant political, social, and legal challenges, from the enduring conflict in Gaza and political upheaval in France to high-stakes legal proceedings in the United States and evolving medical controversies.

Trump’s Revenge: Post-Conviction Vendetta Raises Alarms and Political Tensions

Since last week’s conviction of former President Trump on 34 felony counts, he and his supporters have been fixated on seeking revenge.

Within an hour of the verdict, Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) took to social media, suggesting it was time for “Red State AGs and DAs to get busy.”

Trump himself hinted at possible retaliation against Democrats, stating to Newsmax that it was “very possible” they could face prosecution in the future. He reiterated this sentiment on Fox News, asserting his “right to go after them” following his own legal battles.

His call for retribution extended to members of the House special committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, whom he suggested should face indictment. In an interview with Dr. Phil McGraw, he even justified revenge, saying, “sometimes revenge can be justified.”

Trump has repeatedly framed his potential reelection as the ultimate revenge, asserting that his success would unify a deeply divided nation. However, concerns have risen about the emphasis on revenge from Trump and his allies, particularly in light of his unprecedented felony conviction.

According to Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), the use of the criminal justice system to target political adversaries undermines fundamental American values. He dismissed Republican attempts to paint legal actions against Trump as politically motivated, insisting there’s no evidence to support such claims.

Since his indictment last year, Trump has openly suggested targeting his opponents across various states, including proposing a special prosecutor to investigate the Biden family.

Republican lawmakers, echoing Trump’s grievances, have threatened repercussions against prosecutors and even floated the possibility of their own future prosecution.

Following Trump’s conviction, Republicans have called for cuts to federal funding for the Department of Justice and state-level prosecutors. Although such measures have limited impact, they signal a growing willingness to challenge legal institutions.

Some Republicans anticipate a more aggressive approach once Trump assumes office again, with his own appointees potentially reshaping the Justice Department.

Despite attempts from media figures to dissuade Trump from pursuing vendettas, he remains steadfast, attributing his conviction to political persecution.

While some lawmakers emphasize the importance of accountability and systemic improvements, others focus on retaliatory actions against perceived adversaries.

Despite criticisms of bias, Trump’s guilty verdict was unanimous, highlighting the strength of the case against him.

Democrats reject claims of unfair targeting, pointing to ongoing legal proceedings involving figures from both parties.

Trump’s fixation on revenge could harm him politically, with the Biden campaign contrasting his attacks on the justice system with the president’s focus on public issues and international diplomacy.

Biden has condemned Trump’s assaults on the legal system, warning of the damage to public trust in vital institutions.

In the wake of his criminal convictions, Trump’s priorities appear centered on preserving his own freedoms, raising questions about his motives and intentions moving forward.

Modi’s Grip Weakens as Indian Billionaires Face Scrutiny: A Tale of Cronyism and Economic Inequality

A few weeks before the election that diminished Narendra Modi’s hold on India, the elite flocked to his home state of Gujarat. The event was described by an Indian writer as “likely the most ostentatious pre-wedding ceremony the modern world has ever seen”.

In March, to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of Anant Ambani, the youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Ivanka Trump flew in. The entertainment included Rihanna and Akon. The nearby airport, typically reserved for India’s armed forces, received special permission for non-military jets to land, as reported by the media.

“When it comes to helping out his rich industrialist friends, prime minister Modi is willing to do anything,” Jairam Ramesh, a leading opposition politician, posted on X at the time.

After a decade in power, a recent study showed that 40% of India’s wealth is now in the hands of just 1% of the population. This stark inequality, embodied by Modi’s favored tycoons, may explain his shocking loss of majority in parliament this week.

Discontent has been simmering for years. When Modi attempted to scrap price protections for small farmers in 2020, protesters burned effigies of him and two moguls who have thrived under his rule, one being Ambani.

Ambani oversees an industrial empire founded by his father, amassing a $110bn (£86.4bn) fortune, comparable to the wealth of the US tech moguls who attended his son’s pre-wedding event. Ambani’s competitors have alleged that Modi’s administration facilitated his telecom venture’s dominance in the Indian market.

While the Ambanis have maintained good relations with the state across various administrations, the other effigy-burning protestors targeted a businessman whose rise is closely linked to Modi.

Gautam Adani supported Modi when he was Gujarat’s chief minister and became a pariah after overseeing riots that killed hundreds of Muslims. When Modi ascended to the prime minister’s office, propelled by his strong Hindu nationalism, he traveled to New Delhi on Adani’s private jet. Adani soon secured numerous government infrastructure contracts, boosting his wealth until he joined Ambani among the world’s top 20 richest individuals. Both tycoons praise the prime minister. Neither’s company responded to requests for comment.

Adani claims he is engaged in “nation-building”. His supporters, like Ambani’s, draw parallels with South Korea’s chaebol business clans, which enjoy privileges but drive economic growth. Under Modi, growth has been rapid enough for India to surpass the UK as the fifth largest economy.

However, the rise of Indian billionaires offers little to the millions of Indians barely scraping by. “There’s a lot of pain clouded by these huge top-line growth numbers,” said Sandipto Dasgupta, an expert on Indian politics at the New School for Social Research in New York.

A recent analysis by economists, including Thomas Piketty, suggested that India under Modi is now more unequal than it was under British rule. “It is unclear how long such inequality levels can sustain without major social and political upheaval,” they wrote. When asked about the study, Modi responded: “Should everyone be poor?”

Rahul Gandhi, who has led the opposition Indian National Congress party to a resurgence, focused on cronyism in his attacks. Early in Modi’s tenure, Gandhi labeled his administration a “suit-boot ki sarkar”, meaning a government for the wealthy.

Such criticisms seemed to have little impact on the seemingly invincible Modi for years. But Gandhi persisted, often mentioning Adani and Ambani. In May, Modi appeared to distance himself from the two tycoons, claiming they were providing “truckloads” of money to his opponents.

“During the campaign, people said nobody cares about this,” said James Crabtree, author of Billionaire Raj. “But maybe, actually, they did.” Defeats for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, suggest his anti-Muslim rhetoric failed to secure votes from poorer Indians, who remain affected by chronic unemployment.

If the stock market is any indicator, the election results spell trouble for the likes of Adani. When exit polls wrongly predicted a resounding BJP victory, prices soared for “Modi stocks”, including those in Adani’s companies. The actual results caused a sharp decline. At one point, Adani’s worth dropped by $25bn from its pre-election value.

For the first time, Modi will need to govern in coalition, requiring him to share ministries and their budgets with allies. This shift, according to Rohit Chandra, a political economist at the Indian Institute of Technology, will alter who benefits from state favoritism. “There will be different cronies from different regions. This is a welcome change.”

Biden Imposes Immediate Halt on Asylum Processing at U.S.-Mexico Border Amid Surge in Illegal Entries

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced an immediate suspension of asylum processing at the U.S.-Mexico border whenever illegal entries exceed a specific limit he considers excessive. This policy change, effective immediately, is activated when arrests for illegal entry hit 2,500, a significant shift amid an election year that has seen Biden criticized by Republicans for an unprecedented surge in new arrivals.

The U.S. currently experiences about 4,000 daily entries, and this new measure has raised concerns among advocates who argue it endangers migrants and violates international obligations to provide safe haven for those whose lives are at risk. The Biden administration disputes these claims. Legal challenges are expected.

There are questions about the efficacy of this measure in curbing large-scale migrant entries. Although Mexico has agreed to accept back non-Mexican migrants, it will do so only in limited numbers. Additionally, the Biden administration lacks the necessary funding and diplomatic support to deport migrants to distant countries such as China and those in Africa.

Under the current system, asylum seekers can generally live and work in the U.S. while their claims are processed by the overwhelmed immigration courts. This new policy, however, alters the landscape significantly.

How Will This Play Out on the Ground?

The policy suspends asylum processing until average daily arrests for illegal crossings drop below 1,500 for a consecutive week, a threshold last seen in July 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the pandemic-related asylum restrictions known as Title 42, which carried no legal consequences and encouraged repeat attempts, the new policy will issue deportation orders to those denied a chance to seek asylum. This exposes them to criminal prosecution if they attempt to re-enter and bans them from legally entering the country for several years.

“We are ready to repatriate a record number of people in the coming days,” stated Blas Nuñez-Neto, assistant homeland security secretary for border and immigration policy, during a conference call for Spanish-language reporters.

Migrants expressing fear for their safety upon deportation will be screened by U.S. asylum officers under stricter standards than currently in place. If they pass this screening, they may pursue other forms of humanitarian protection, such as those outlined in the U.N. Convention Against Torture. Unaccompanied children are exempt, which may lead some parents to send their children across the border alone.

**What Role Does Mexico Play?**

Mexico’s role is crucial. The U.S. has limited resources to fly migrants back to over 100 countries, including many in Africa and Asia. It also lacks the diplomatic influence and logistical arrangements necessary to deport large numbers of migrants to countries like China, Russia, and Venezuela.

A 1997 court order generally restricts the detention of families with children under 18 to 20 days, an ambitious and likely unrealistic timeframe for screening and deporting those expressing fear of deportation. Even for single adults, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has the capacity to detain only about 34,000 people at a time.

Mexico has agreed to take back up to 30,000 people per month from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, in addition to Mexicans. However, this commitment does not extend to other nationalities. This year, Mexico has also made it more difficult for migrants to reach the U.S. border by preventing them from riding freight trains and stopping them on buses to turn them back to southern Mexico. While Mexican authorities block migrants’ progress, relatively few are deported, leaving many stranded in Mexican cities far from the U.S. border.

Alicia Bárcena, Mexico’s foreign relations secretary, stated last month that Mexico will not allow more than 4,000 illegal entries per day. President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum, set to take office on October 1, is expected to continue the policies of her mentor, current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Has This Been Tried Before?

This measure is the latest in a series of attempts by both the Biden and Trump administrations to deter asylum seekers, none of which have had lasting effects. In May 2023, Biden imposed similar restrictions on asylum for those crossing the border illegally after passing through another country, such as Mexico. A federal appeals court has allowed those restrictions to remain in place while advocates challenge them, but their impact appears minimal.

Illegal crossings decreased following last year’s restrictions, but the reduction was temporary as the number of screening officers was insufficient for the task. The application of the rule to only a small percentage of arrests highlighted the gap between budget allocations and policy ambitions.

Biden invoked a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act allowing the president to ban entry for groups of people if their presence “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” Former President Donald Trump used this power to ban entry from predominantly Muslim countries, though advocacy groups are likely to argue that Biden has not adequately met the “detrimental” criterion.

This latest policy shift reflects ongoing efforts to manage and control the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, balancing international obligations with domestic pressures and resource limitations. The effectiveness and legality of the new measure will be closely scrutinized in the coming months, as its implementation impacts both migrants and the broader immigration system.

Trump Campaign and RNC Raise $141 Million in May, Surge Fueled by Guilty Verdict

Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee announced that they raised a substantial $141 million in May. This significant fundraising total includes tens of millions of dollars that flowed in following Trump’s guilty verdict in his criminal hush money trial.

Although Trump’s campaign is not obliged to reveal its fundraising figures to the Federal Election Commission until later this month, they chose to disclose the numbers early. This decision highlights their belief that the influx of contributions is a testament to the former president’s supporters rallying behind him after the verdict and indicates that it will not impede his pursuit of a return to the White House.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s campaign has not yet released its fundraising totals for May. In April, Trump and the Republican Party raised $76 million, surpassing the $51 million reported by Biden and the Democratic National Committee for the same month.

The extent of Trump and the GOP’s expenditures in May remains unclear. However, the considerable sum raised could help reduce the financial disparity with Biden, which has been a consistent challenge throughout the campaign.

In a press release on Monday, Trump’s campaign stated that it received over two million donations in May, with an average contribution of $70.27. A notable 37.6% of this amount came from online donations within 24 hours of the verdict announcement. Additionally, about a quarter of the donors were new to the campaign.

“We are moved by the outpouring of support for President Donald J. Trump. The American people saw right through Crooked Joe Biden’s rigged trial, and sent Biden and Democrats a powerful message – the REAL verdict will come on November 5th,” said Trump Campaign senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles in a statement.

In response, Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa remarked that they would “see how the numbers actually shake out” when officially reported. He also commented, “one thing’s for certain: Trump’s billionaire friends are propping up the campaign of a white-collar crook because they know the deal – they cut him checks and he cuts their taxes while working people and the middle class pay the tab.”

Last week, Trump’s campaign announced it had raised over $50 million online within 24 hours after the Manhattan jury delivered its verdict. This verdict made Trump the first former president and first major party presumptive nominee in the nation’s history to be convicted of a crime.

Trump is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.

CFPB Director Rohit Chopra Announces corporate ‘repeat offender’ registry

The federal government’s top consumer watchdog is establishing a registry to track companies and people who repeatedly break consumer protection laws, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced Monday.

Initially proposed in December 2022, the new rule will require non-bank companies hit with local, state or federal consumer protection-related court or agency enforcement orders to register with the CFPB and a senior executive from the company to attest the company is not still offending.

“Too often, financial firms treat penalties for illegal activity as the cost of doing business,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a statement. “The CFPB’s new rule will help law enforcement across the country detect and stop repeat offenders.”

The registry will publicly disclose information and orders entered after an agency or court has found the company or individual has committed wrongdoing or something illegal, a CFPB official said. The bureau has not established an appeal or delisting process, as was requested in comments on the initial proposed rule.

The CFPB proposed the rule in December 2022, and a CFPB official told reporters Monday the final rule includes changes to cut down on duplicate registration, increase the exemption threshold to $5 million in revenue and create an implementation schedule.

Larger non-bank participants will be among the first tranche of registrations due Jan. 14, 2025, a CFPB official said. Other supervised companies will have until April 14, 2025, and July 14, 2025.

The bureau expects the public registry to go live sometime next year.

“This registry is part of a serious and concerted effort at the CFPB to rein in repeat offenders,” Chopra told reporters Monday. “When companies believe that violating the law is more profitable than following it, this totally undermines public trusts and harms that businesses who are playing by the rules.”

The Biden administration has issued a wave of new rules intended to beef up worker and consumer power. The CFPB last month moved to classify “buy now, pay later” applications as credit card companies, while the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted in April to ban the use of noncompete agreements and nullify most existing agreements.

These rules come as President Biden gears up for a tough reelection race against former President Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Many Americans have negative feelings about the state of the economy, and perceptions of Biden’s handling of the economy has been a persistent thorn in his campaign’s side. The economy and still-elevated inflation are top issues for voters, and more Americans trust Trump than Biden on these issues, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos Poll.

Trump’s Potential Return to Presidency Could Lead to ‘Dictatorship and Anarchy’ Warns Historian; Former President Found Guilty on All Charges

Michael Beschloss, a revered historian specializing in the American presidency, sounded a note of caution on an MSNBC show on Saturday. He warned that if former President Donald Trump were to regain his position in the Oval Office, it could result in a dangerous slide towards “dictatorship and anarchy” for the United States.

Beschloss’s Analysis:

Speaking on “The Saturday Show with Jonathan Capeheart,” Beschloss emphasized the gravity of the situation. He stated, “He is saying, I will dismantle our rule of law, which is the glory of America, keeps the peace, assures fairness when it works for all Americans. You’ve got dictatorship and anarchy at the same time.”

He further highlighted the stark choice that lies ahead, labeling Trump as a “convicted felon.” Beschloss went on to discuss Trump’s public statement delivered post-trial where the former president expressed his desire to “dismantle parts of the Constitution” and labeled the system as “rotten.”

Trump’s Conviction:

In a precedent-setting case, Trump was pronounced guilty by a jury in New York City on all 34 felony charges of falsifying business records. This marked the first time in history a current or former American president has been tried in court.

Trump’s Post-Conviction Speech:

Following his conviction, Trump addressed the public, claiming, “Our country is in very bad shape, and they’re very much against me saying these things.” He criticized the current administration for their plans to raise taxes and impose mandates that would hinder car ownership.

Trump declared himself the leading contender for the presidency, outranking Joe Biden and the rest of the Republican field. He claimed his speech was hampered by a court-issued gag order and accused the White House and the Department of Justice of being in collusion with Biden’s administration.

In his speech, Trump expressed his belief that his trial was rigged and that his requests for a venue change and a non-conflicted judge were denied.

Post-Conviction Developments:

Following his conviction, Trump made a public appearance at a UFC fight over the weekend where he was met with cheers from the crowd. His campaign also managed to raise an impressive nearly $53 million within a day of the verdict. Despite the recent controversy and his legal troubles, these events suggest that Trump still retains significant support among certain sections of the American populace.

Modi’s BJP Falls Short of Winning Majority in India’s Parliamentary Elections

After all the media hype of a Modi wave, and alleged abuse of government agencies to silence and intimidate political and independent minded opponents from all walks of life  by the Narendra Modi led Government in India in the past 10 years, India’s nearly one billion people, who went to the elect their new government, have given their verdict on June 4, 2024.

According to the latest election results available,  prime minister Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is falling well short of expectations, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is projected to lose its majority in Indian parliament after a decade. The opposition INDIA bloc has performed much better than projected in exit polls, as many expect the 20 party alliance could possibly form the fovern in New Delhi with other like minded parties.

As the election season began over two months ago, Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had hoped to win 400+ seats in the 543 member Indian parliament. However, BJP is projected to be short of the 272 needed to form a government, leading in 241 seats, which is well behind the 303 it won in the 2019 election.

The opposition bloc, known as the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), which is made up of more than 20 opposition parties including the Indian National Congress, is on course to win more than 228 seats. Despite being behind, opposition leaders have not ruled out talks on forming their own governing coalition

Now that Modi’s ruling party is expected to lose its majority in parliament, forcing him to rely on allies to form a government. It’s a stunning blow to a leader who has dominated Indian politics since he first took power a decade ago. “India will likely have an NDA government, where the BJP does not have a majority on their own, and coalition politics will come into real play,” said Sandeep Shastri, the national coordinator of the Lokniti Network, a research programme at the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

The results also show that India has rejected the Hindutva ideology that Modi and his Party have been trumpeting for the past decade. In a major shock to Modi and his ideology, BJP has lost a seat in the Ayodhya constituency, a deeply symbolic loss after he opened a controversial Hindu temple there in January. BJP candidate, Lallu Singh, lost to a rival from the regional Samajwadi Party. Modi and his party had campaigned heavily at the temple dedicated to Lord Ram, built on the historic ruins of a mosque that was destroyed by Hindu mobs in 1992.

Modi is set to return to parliament as he wins national elections from his constituency Varanasi. After initially trailing behind his closest rival, Ajay Rai of Congress, he returned strong securing 612,970 votes beating his opponent by 152,513 votes.

Rahul Gandhi, the Congress party leader is leading by a whopping 350,000 votes, with his current vote tally at 623,539, according to the election commission. Annie Raja of the Communist Party of India, a member of the Congress-led INDIA bloc, is trailing there with 273,509 votes for her counted so far. He is also running from the family bastion of Rae Bareli in northern Uttar Pradesh state, where he is leading by more than 370,000 votes.

The vote, which began on April 19 and concluded on June 1, was carried out in seven phases over six weeks and saw over 1 billion Indians heading to the polls—making it the largest democratic election in the world. The Election Commission says a record-breaking 642 million voters cast their ballots in the staggered election.

There have been doubts expressed about the ability of the BJP to put together a ruling coalition, as there have been informal consultations started among various parties to join the INDIA Alliance in an attempt to form a non-BJP government.

Even if BJP is able to put together a government, a smaller-than-expected majority means that Modi may face a more powerful opposition than at any point over the past decade, making implementation more difficult unless the BJP works with smaller alliances and negotiates with opposition leaders.

Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi did not outright reject the possibility of his INDIA alliance forming a government. When a reporter asked him the question, he deflected it by saying that the bloc would meet tomorrow and discuss it.

Two of the BJP’s allies – the Janata Dal (United) and the Telugu Desam Party – are leading in close to 30 seats. The BJP – which has been restricted to around 240 seats – needs them to reach 272 seats to be able to form the government in New Delhi.

Both the TDP and the JDU are former Congress partners, and Gandhi did not rule out the possibility of holding talks with them. Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh and Nitish Kumar of Bihar, hold the key to forming the next government.

“TDP has a pre-poll alliance with NDA and it will continue, no doubt about that,” party lawmaker K Ravindra Kumar told the media. JD (U) spokesperson Abhishek Jha said, “We are formally with this NDA alliance and will participate in making the government.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the people of India have “placed their faith” in the BJP-led NDA alliance “for a third consecutive time. This is a historical feat in India’s history,” he posted on X, moments before he is expected to address party workers in New Delhi.

Shama Mohamed, a Congress party’s spokesperson said, leaders of the opposition knew that exit polls showing a wide-margin of victory for Modi’s alliance were not reflective of the reality on the ground. “You have to understand that there is a lot of unemployment in India, the price rise is huge. There is the capture of various institutions for example,” Mohamed added, referring to the opposition’s allegations that Modi’s government has consolidated power at key institutions, including the country’s election commission.”

The initial election results have spooked India’s financial markets, which had expected a hefty win for Modi.

While Modi government tried to project a “shining India” campaign, the reality of huge unemployment, inflation, a controversial army recruitment reform, Modi’s aggressive and divisive campaign, totalitarianism, abuse of government machineries and turning the impartial government agencies and Courts to act as stooges of the Modi government seem have had a negative impact, leading to the party’s down fall. “And the most compelling was the unemployment and that trumped the BJP in a way they did not expect,” as an analyst put it. The BJP has performed badly in India’s vast rural areas.

Modi’s ambitious slogan “Ab ki baar, 400 paar,” aiming for over 400 seats for his NDA alliance, may also have backfired, raising fears of constitutional changes with such a massive majority.

As Surendra Kumar Dwivedi, a political analyst summed it all: “The trend very clearly shows that in a state like Uttar Pradesh, which has Ram Temple, the temple is not the only deciding factor anymore and developmental issues especially, which are related to youths like rampant leaks of the competitive examination (services) and unemployment, had made an impact on the youths who were the largest chunk of voters.”

Generational Nostalgia: Why Americans Fondly Remember Their Youth as the ‘Good Old Days’

YouGov, the survey experts renowned for their adeptness at tackling the intangible, recently polled 2,000 adults on which decade excelled in areas like music, movies, and the economy across 20 measures. Yet, no clear pattern emerged from the results.

Certain trends did stand out, however. White people and Republicans, for instance, were about twice as likely as Black people and Democrats to view the 1950s as the era of the most moral society, happiest families, and closest-knit communities. This disparity likely hinges on whether one recalls that decade for its idyllic “Leave it to Beaver” charm or for its darker moments like the Red Scare and the murder of Emmett Till.

“This was a time when Repubs were pretty much running the show and had reason to be happy,” noted nostalgia researcher Morris Holbrook via email. “Apparently, you could argue that nostalgia is colored by political preferences. Surprise, surprise.” Holbrook’s point underscores that political, racial, or gender divides are overshadowed by generational perspectives in these assessments.

When the data was re-evaluated by examining the gap between each person’s birth year and their ideal decade, a fascinating pattern emerged. This revealed that nostalgia isn’t tied to a specific era but rather to a particular age. The “good old days” are typically the decade when individuals were around 11 years old, an age of innocence and parental omniscience.

The data showed that our nostalgia peaks during specific life stages. For instance, the most tightly-knit communities are remembered from childhood (ages 4 to 7), while the happiest families, most moral societies, and most reliable news reporting are associated with early formative years (ages 8 to 11). The best economy, radio, television, and movies are linked to early teens (ages 12 to 15). As people reach their late teens (ages 16 to 19), nostalgia for music, fashion, and sporting events intensifies, consistent with findings from the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute which pinpoint music nostalgia at around age 17.

Interestingly, YouGov also asked about the worst music and economy. Consistently, respondents viewed “right now” as the worst time. Even when historical context suggests otherwise, such as the Great Depression, which had far worse unemployment rates than today’s pandemic-induced lows, the present era is often viewed as the most challenging.

This perception is particularly pronounced among Republicans, who were notably more negative about the current decade compared to Democrats. Joanne Hsu, director of the University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers, explained this partisan split. She observed that people whose party is in power generally have more favorable economic sentiments, a gap that has widened over time. During Trump’s presidency, Republicans’ optimism surged while Democrats’ expectations plummeted. This trend flipped with Biden’s inauguration but remains significant.

Hsu and her team explored where Americans get their economic information. They found that Republicans who follow partisan news outlets are more likely to view the economy negatively, although only a fifth of Republicans primarily rely on these sources. Despite this, both Democrats and independents also expressed dissatisfaction with the current decade, though to a lesser extent.

Carl Bialik from YouGov noted that when Americans were asked last year which decade they’d most prefer to live in, the most common answer was “now.” This suggests that while the current era is viewed negatively in specific terms, there is still a preference for contemporary life over past decades.

A deeper understanding emerged during a Zoom call with Australian researchers from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, who revisited music nostalgia. Their study asked respondents to rate songs from different decades, revealing a preference for music from their late teens without a corresponding spike in negative ratings for recent music.

Marketing researcher Bill Page pointed out that asking about the “worst” era often elicits a predisposition towards negative thinking rather than genuine opinions. His colleague Zac Anesbury added that surveys can unintentionally measure sentiments like “declinism,” the belief that things are perpetually getting worse. This phenomenon, rooted in rosy retrospection, means that we tend to remember the past more fondly than the present.

Psychological studies by Leigh Thompson and Terence Mitchell have shown that our satisfaction with experiences improves over time. For instance, a trip that seemed disappointing while underway might be remembered fondly once it’s over and the difficulties have faded.

In essence, describing the 2020s as the worst decade ever is akin to lamenting a trip during its roughest moments. Over time, as memories soften and the good moments stand out, the current decade may eventually be looked back on with nostalgia.

So, in a few decades, reflecting on the 2020s through the lens of cherished photos and fond memories, we might find ourselves recalling the good times rather than the challenges. Thus, the 2020s could well become the “good old days” of the future.

Trump Becomes First Ex-President Convicted of Felony, Yet Remains GOP Frontrunner Amid Polarizing Legal Battles

Donald Trump has made history by becoming the first former U.S. President to be convicted of a felony. A New York state jury found him guilty on all 34 charges related to hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016. The charges against Trump include falsifying business records, which involved a $130,000 reimbursement to his former lawyer Michael Cohen following the payment to Daniels after their alleged affair in 2006. More significantly, Trump was also convicted of election fraud for attempting to conceal this information from voters just before the 2016 election.

The judge has scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11, just before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. During this convention, Republican leaders are expected to nominate Trump as their presidential candidate. Although falsifying business records can lead to a prison sentence of up to four years, it is likely that the judge may impose a fine or probation instead, considering Trump’s age (77), his lack of previous convictions, and the non-violent nature of the crimes.

Trump also faces three other criminal indictments related to federal and state charges of interfering in the 2020 election and mishandling classified documents. These cases carry more severe penalties but are currently mired in appeals and are unlikely to go to trial before the November 5 election.

The U.S. Constitution sets specific criteria for presidential candidates: they must be natural-born citizens, at least 35 years old, and U.S. residents for at least 14 years. Thus, Trump’s conviction in New York does not disqualify him from running for president. In fact, even if he is sentenced to prison, it is conceivable that he could govern from behind bars.

A significant concern is the polarizing effect of Trump’s legal issues on public discourse. Reports indicate that the guilty verdict is “… helping to unify the Republican Party’s disparate factions as GOP officials across the political spectrum rallied behind their embattled presumptive presidential nominee…” However, poll surveys in swing states earlier this year suggested that 53% of voters would not vote for Trump if he were convicted in any of his criminal cases. The upcoming November 2024 election might be the decisive moment for American voters to determine whether they consider Trump suitable to lead the nation.

Despite the gravity of his convictions, Trump’s political influence remains strong. His supporters view the legal battles as politically motivated attacks, and his base has rallied around him more fervently. This unity among Republicans could potentially consolidate Trump’s position as a frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election. The broader impact on the Republican Party and the general electorate, however, remains to be seen.

Trump’s legal troubles are emblematic of a larger cultural and political divide in the United States. His detractors argue that his actions undermine the rule of law and democratic norms. Conversely, his supporters see him as a victim of an unjust system, fighting against establishment forces. This dichotomy reflects the deep polarization within American society, where opinions about Trump’s guilt or innocence are often influenced by partisan loyalties rather than the legal facts of the cases.

The conviction also raises questions about the integrity of the U.S. electoral process and the standards to which presidential candidates are held. Historically, candidates have been scrutinized for their personal and professional conduct, but Trump’s case is unprecedented. The notion that a convicted felon could still run for, and potentially win, the presidency challenges traditional expectations and legal norms.

As the 2024 election approaches, both Trump’s legal team and his political campaign are likely to intensify their efforts. Legally, they will continue to appeal the convictions and seek to delay any proceedings that could hinder his campaign. Politically, Trump will likely use his legal battles to galvanize his base, portraying himself as a martyr fighting against a corrupt system.

The upcoming Republican National Convention will be a crucial moment for Trump and his supporters. It will test the party’s unity and its commitment to Trump as their candidate. Given the current political climate, the convention might also serve as a platform for Trump to address his convictions and rally his supporters.

For American voters, the decision in November 2024 will be pivotal. They will have to weigh the implications of electing a candidate with a criminal record against their political beliefs and the future direction they want for the country. This election could redefine the boundaries of political acceptability and the resilience of democratic institutions in the United States.

Donald Trump’s conviction marks a historic moment in U.S. politics. Despite his legal troubles, he remains a potent force in the political landscape, with strong support from his base and within the Republican Party. The 2024 presidential election will be a critical juncture for the nation, potentially setting new precedents for the intersection of law, politics, and public opinion.

Indian American Community Reflects the Sentiments of a Divided Nation, Responding to Trump Conviction

According to The YouGov survey, conducted immediately after former President Donald Trump was convicted in all 34 counts in the New York hush money trial, 50 percent of Americans agreed with the jury on the members’ decision to convict the former president. In the same survey, about 19 percent said they were “not sure” if they agreed with the decision and about 30 percent said they didn’t agree.

Trump became the first former U.S. president to be a convicted felon Thursday, May 30, 2024 after a jury found him guilty on all counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments his then-fixer, Michael Cohen, made to porn actor Stormy Daniels, ahead of the 2016 election.

Shortly following the jury reading the verdict, Trump railed against the trial outside the courtroom. “This was a rigged, disgraceful trial. The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here,” Trump said. “This is a scam,” he said of the case brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office led by Alvin Bragg, overseen by Judge Juan Merchan.
President Joe Biden criticized Trump over his language on the trial’s fairness. “It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” the president said. “Our justice system should be respected, and we should never allow anyone to tear it down; it’s as simple as that,” he added.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said it was a “shameful day in American history” and the charges were “purely political.” Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance said the verdict was a “disgrace to the judicial system.” And Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, said that the decision was “a defeat for Americans who believe in the critical legal tenet that justice is blind.”

Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project Action Fund civil rights group, including several racial justice advocates, is using the historic moment to remind the hush money trial was just part of a broader narrative around electoral justice. Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP called the verdict against Trump “a monumental step toward justice for the American people.” Johnson, who leads the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, said Trump’s criminal conviction ought to disqualify him from the Oval Office.

While the nation has reacted differently to the verdict, the Indian American community has reflected its views by one’s political ideology. Indian American community that overwhelmingly votes for Democrats—whose prominence in American public life is relatively new, is now fielding multiple political candidates on the national stage, in addition to having elected several lawmakers at the national, state, and local levels.

The rapid rise of Indian Americans is one of the most startling domestic events in 21st-century America and one of the great success stories of liberal multiculturalism. Indian Americans are now the most economically successful ethnic group in America. The community’s views have evolved, with some Indian Americans leaving the Democratic fold, and embracing the conservative Republican Party.

While some have expressed overwhelming support for the verdict, others see this as an abuse of power by the Democrats to deny Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee the White House.

“No one is above the law. It was good that the Manhattan DA and his team did a great job in convincing the jury that former President Trump is guilty of all charges, said Dr. Thomas Abraham, Chairman, GOPIO International. “When we have a constitution and rule of law in this country, everyone has to follow. The courts have to hear the grievances of the society at large, and in this case through DA, and punish those who break the laws. That is the way democratic institutions work. If Trump feels that this is not a correct verdict, he can still appeal.”

However, Nithin George Eapen, thinks the verdict is politically motivated. “In my opinion, this verdict against Trump is nothing more than a political circus orchestrated by the liberal elites of the Democratic Party in New York, says Eapen, an Entrepreneur and Investor, well known for his expertise and eloquence as a Three-time TEDx Speaker. “This case highlights the deep divisions and contentious nature of American politics and justice. The verdict by a majority liberal jury symbolizes the erosion of American values, edging the nation closer to becoming a Banana Republic.”

Eapen says, these individuals, once beneficiaries of Trump’s donations, now seek to undermine him because they perceive him as a threat to their political dominance. They are determined to prevent someone they consider beneath their social class from gaining power again. This move by the political elite is an attempt to protect their own interests by using the power of the legal process in their control to damage Trump’s influence before the November election, where they have a vulnerable candidate.

Eapen is of the belief that “Nothing will happen to Trump as he will appeal and most likely win also and that process will take time. This will energize his base and gain sympathies for a man being targeted by the leviathan. In the meanwhile now he can get back on the campaign trail and raise money. The case was able to keep him off the campaign trail and give edge to their the senile lethargic vulnerable candidate. In a constitutional republic, targeting political opponents when in power can backfire, as those opponents may one day control the same state machinery of police and courts. This sets a dangerous precedent though potentially leading to endless taxpayer money being wasted on frivolous cases in the future by every set of unforgiving political elite.”

Rajeshwar Prasad, founder and chairman of The National Indo-American Association for Senior Citizens (NIAASC) summed it up this way: “Today’s verdict against Trump shows that nobody is above the LAW. Guilty on all 34 criminal counts. A very sad chapter in the political history of the. United States.”

Dr. Mathew Joys, a well-known writer and past BOD Secretary of the Indo-American Press Club takes us back to the past while relating to the present case. “34 COUNT GUILTY! There are instances of Former Presidents getting into hush money cases and sex scandals, and it is not a hot story for Americans. The sexual misconduct scandals surrounding then-President Bill Clinton with Monica Lewinsky or Paula Jones and past President Donald Trump with Stormy Daniels both might look similar— two former presidents paying money to women with whom they had sexual relations.”

According to Dr. Joys, “The most significant and crucial difference is that Clinton belongs to the Democrats, the ruling party, whereas Trump is a Republican. Clinton mutually reached an out-of-court settlement. In contrast, Trump privately arranged his payments to keep Daniels from speaking publicly in the first place. If so, the verdicts could have been similar, too. It seems the Court is showing some mercy by allowing Trump to remain in the current Presidential Election campaigns.

Dr. Joys points to Trump’s statement after the verdict: “I’m a very innocent man,” Trump told reporters, vowing that the “real verdict” would come from voters on election day. He branded the trial “rigged” and a “disgrace.”

Vinay Mahajan, an entrepreneur and the President & CEO of NAM Info Inc., agrees. “The US legal system works, even an ex-President is not above the law. The Jury has found President Trump guilty. The justice will take its own course, and there will be an appeal at the higher courts. We should not rush our judgments. Let us wait for the highest court of the country to decide. The final decision will be made in the People’s Court in November.”

While the nation is still trying to accept the new reality that a former President of the nation is a convicted felon, the verdict and its impact can be very long-lasting. One cannot agree less with POLITICO, which wrote recently: “On the one hand, it is a powerful demonstration that in this country even a former head of state can be indicted and convicted by a group of his peers. On the other hand, the fact that one of the two men likely to be president next year is now a convicted felon sets up the possibility that those very same judicial institutions that guarantee the rule of law will come under the most ferocious political attack in our history.”

Forecast Model Favors Trump and GOP in White House and Congressional Races, but Democrats Remain Hopeful

According to a recent forecast model released by Decision Desk HQ and The Hill, the former President Trump and the GOP are currently in favorable positions for the upcoming elections, with Trump having a 58 percent chance of winning the presidency. The model also suggests that Republicans have an 80 percent chance of securing the Senate majority and a 64 percent chance of retaining their House majority. This forecast is based on approximately 200 different data points, including voter registration numbers, demographics, past election results, fundraising totals, and polling averages.

Scott Tranter, the director of data science for Decision Desk HQ, stressed that these projections are subject to change before Election Day, likening them to a practice test. He emphasized that the current data represents a snapshot in time and may not accurately reflect the final outcome.

Despite these projections, there is growing anxiety within the Democratic Party, fueled by consistent polling showing President Biden trailing Trump in swing states. Additionally, issues such as the conflict in Gaza have further complicated matters for Democrats, particularly with young and minority voters, key constituents from the 2020 election.

Moreover, dissatisfaction with the economy and Biden’s handling of economic issues is evident in polls, contributing to the challenges faced by Democrats. Despite facing legal issues, Trump maintains a lead over Biden in both national and swing state polls.

In the Senate race, Democrats face a tough battle due to the unfavorable electoral map, particularly in states like Montana and Ohio where Trump holds a significant advantage. Without victories in these states, Democrats risk losing the Senate majority. Similarly, Democrats are considered underdogs in the race to regain the House majority, according to Decision Desk HQ/The Hill’s forecast.

Decision Desk HQ utilizes an ensemble approach, combining various algorithms to analyze data and generate probabilities for each candidate’s success in different states. Trump currently leads Biden in polling averages in key battleground states, although states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania remain closely contested.

Despite concerns over Biden’s low approval ratings, some Democrats remain optimistic, citing his experience and advising against premature panic. The unpredictable nature of politics, particularly with regard to Trumpism, suggests that the political landscape could change before November.

Republicans express confidence in their prospects, noting a trend favoring Trump and downplaying the impact of his legal battles. However, they acknowledge that unforeseen factors could alter the course of the election.

Interestingly, many Democratic down-ballot candidates are outperforming Biden in polling, indicating potential ticket splitting among voters. This trend suggests that the electorate in certain states may be open to voting for candidates from different parties.

Overall, while Republicans may feel encouraged by the current forecast, Tranter cautions against complacency, highlighting the potential for shifts in polling that could significantly impact the election outcome.

Trump’s Conviction: A Game-Changer or Temporary Setback for the 2024 Election?

Scandals have surrounded former President Donald Trump since his initial presidential campaign in 2016. However, following his conviction in his New York hush-money case, he is now officially labeled as a convicted felon, adding a new dimension to his controversial legacy. This development begs the question: could this conviction significantly alter the trajectory of the 2024 election?

Initial indicators suggest that Trump’s conviction could indeed erode his support base. A poll conducted by CNN/SSRS in April revealed that while 76 percent of Trump supporters vowed unwavering allegiance, 24 percent admitted they might reconsider their support if he were convicted. Similarly, a May survey by Emerson College found that 25 percent of voters claimed a guilty verdict in New York would diminish their likelihood of voting for Trump.

Some pollsters adopted a two-pronged approach, asking respondents their voting preferences both with and without considering Trump’s conviction. On average, Trump’s standing shifted from a 1 percentage point lead to a 6-point deficit when the conviction was factored in.

However, Democrats should temper their enthusiasm, considering the nuances within these statistics. The wording of the CNN/SSRS poll, for instance, reveals that while 24 percent of Trump supporters might reconsider their vote, this doesn’t necessarily translate to definitive abandonment. Many may simply experience a crisis of confidence without outright switching allegiance to President Joe Biden.

A poll by ABC News/Ipsos echoed this sentiment. While 16 percent of respondents claimed they would reconsider their support for Trump following a conviction, only 4 percent stated they would completely withdraw it. Moreover, caution is warranted in interpreting polls like Emerson’s, which gauge whether events influence voting behavior. Often, respondents use such questions as proxies for their approval or disapproval rather than literal indicators of future action.

Interestingly, a significant portion of those claiming a conviction would sway their vote towards Biden had already expressed support for him in previous questions. Conversely, only a small fraction of Trump supporters indicated that a guilty verdict would deter them from voting for him, suggesting a lesser impact on his actual support than initially presumed.

Additional polls reinforce the notion that Trump’s conviction may not trigger mass defections to Biden. Instead, the majority of lost support for Trump translates into undecided or hypothetical “someone else” categories. While Trump’s support decreases by an average of 6 points post-conviction, Biden only gains 1 point, with 5 points going to undecided or alternative options.

This dynamic suggests that while some Trump supporters may hesitate to endorse him following the conviction, they are unlikely to pivot towards Biden. Consequently, the dip in Trump’s support may be transient. Past behavior serves as a predictor, indicating that many defectors could eventually realign with Trump, especially given the substantial time remaining until Election Day. Trump’s ability to craft a narrative that assuages concerns about supporting a convicted felon could further facilitate this return to the fold.

The parallels with past events, such as the fallout from the “Access Hollywood” tape during the 2016 campaign, underscore the potential for Trump’s support to rebound swiftly. Despite initial discomfort among Republicans, Trump’s popularity recovered within weeks of the tape’s release.

Nevertheless, even if most defectors ultimately return to Trump’s camp, the conviction’s impact on the race should not be dismissed entirely. Biden’s marginal 1-point gain could prove decisive in a closely contested election, though it’s crucial not to exaggerate the conviction’s influence. Ultimately, if the outcome of the hush-money trial shapes the presidential race, it will likely be within the margins of a closely contested contest.

Libertarian Party Nominates Chase Oliver for President, Rejecting Trump and Kennedy Bids

The Libertarian Party made a significant decision on Sunday, nominating party activist Chase Oliver for president, turning down the bids of former President Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Both Trump and Kennedy had addressed the party’s convention, but the party ultimately chose Oliver as its candidate.

The nomination of Oliver is notable given the historical performance of third parties in U.S. presidential elections. In the previous election, the Libertarian candidate garnered just 1% of the vote. However, this year, with the highly anticipated rematch between Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden, the attention on the Libertarian Party’s decision has intensified. The outcome of the election could once again be influenced by narrow vote margins in a few key battleground states.

Chase Oliver expressed his excitement about the nomination on social media, declaring, “We did it! I am officially the presidential nominee. It’s time to unify and move forward for liberty.” His enthusiasm reflects the party’s commitment to its core values of liberty and individual freedoms.

Former President Trump’s appearance at the convention on Saturday was met with a mixed reception. Despite his efforts to garner support, he was repeatedly booed by many attendees. However, his decision to address an audience not entirely aligned with him was commended by his Republican allies, underscoring his willingness to engage with diverse viewpoints.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in contrast, received a warmer welcome when he spoke at the convention on Friday. He criticized both Trump and Biden for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kennedy’s support for the Libertarian Party could have facilitated his efforts to secure ballot access in all 50 states, a significant challenge for third-party candidates aiming to participate in the presidential debates.

The Libertarian Party’s platform emphasizes principles such as small government and individual freedoms. Its policy positions span the ideological spectrum, encompassing ideas that can be perceived as liberal, conservative, or neither.

Chase Oliver, the newly nominated candidate, hails from Atlanta and has previously run for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House from Georgia. His campaign platform advocates for substantial reductions in the federal budget, aiming to achieve budgetary balance. Additionally, Oliver supports abolishing the death penalty and closing all overseas military bases, while also advocating for an end to military assistance to countries like Israel and Ukraine.

Trump Found Guilty On All Counts In Hush Money Case. What Happens Next?

A New York jury on Thursday found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records — the first time a former U.S. president has been convicted of a crime.

The jury reached its verdict in the historic case after 9.5 hours of deliberations, which began Wednesday.

He’ll be sentenced on July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention. He faces penalties ranging from a fine to four years in prison on each count, although it’s expected he would be sentenced for the offenses concurrently, and not consecutively.

Follow live updates here.

“This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” he fumed to reporters afterward.

The verdict was read in the Manhattan courtroom where Trump has been on trial since April 15. He had pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment made by his former lawyer Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election.

The judge thanked the jurors for their service in the weeks-long trial. “You gave this matter the attention it deserved, and I want to thank you for that,” Judge Juan Merchan told them. Trump appeared to be scowling at the jurors as they walked by him on their way out of the courtroom.

Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche made a motion for acquittal after the jury left the room, which the judge denied.

The conviction comes as Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president. He immediately set out fundraising off the news, posting on his website that he’s “a political prisoner” and urging his followers to give money.

Legal experts have told NBC News that even if Trump is sentenced to time behind bars, he’d most likely be allowed to remain out of jail while he appeals the verdict, a process that could take months or more. That means the sentence would most likely not interfere with his ability to accept the Republican nomination for president at the July convention.

President Joe Biden’s campaign praised the verdict in a statement, but stressed that Trump needs to be defeated in November.

“In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law,” the campaign’s communications director Michael Tyler said, but the “verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box.”

In his closing argument earlier this week, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jury that “the law is the law and it applies to everyone equally. There is no special standard for this defendant.”

“You, the jury, have the ability to hold the defendant accountable,” Steinglass said.

Trump had maintained the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office had no case and that there had been no crime. “President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes,” Blanche said in his closing statement, arguing the payments to Cohen were legitimate.

Prosecutors said the disguised payment to Cohen was part of a “planned, coordinated long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected through illegal expenditures, to silence people who had something bad to say about his behavior, using doctored corporate records and bank forms to conceal those payments along the way.”

“It was election fraud. Pure and simple,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said in his opening statement.

While Trump was not charged with conspiracy, prosecutors argued he caused the records to be falsified because he was trying to cover up a violation of state election law- and falsifying business records with the intent to cover another crime raises the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony.

How Inequality, Unemployment, and Slow Growth Hold India Back

On June 4, after counting roughly 650 million votes, the Election Commission of India is scheduled to announce the winner of the 2024 parliamentary elections. Polls suggest it will be the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If the BJP is voted back to power after a ten-year tenure, it would be a remarkable feat, driven largely by the prime minister’s personal popularity. According to an April poll by Morning Consult, 76 percent of Indians approve of him.

There are multiple theories for why Modi is so popular. Some attribute it to the fact that he has advanced the “Hindutva” agenda, which views India from a Hindu-first lens. Despite the periodic dog whistles against Muslims during the elections by Modi and his lieutenants, this agenda is a primary electoral concern for only a small fraction of India’s voters. In the 2019 elections, BJP’s vote share nationally was less than 38 percent, and obviously, an even smaller share are committed to the othering of religious minorities.

Another explanation is that Modi has managed the economy well, with India recently overtaking the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy in the world, and soon surpassing stagnant Germany and Japan to become the third largest. His economic stewardship, some experts argue, is setting up the country and its 1.4 billion people to succeed in the future.

But India’s economic growth, although seemingly high compared with other countries, has not been large enough, or taken place in the right sectors, to create enough good jobs. India is still a young country, and over ten million youth start looking for work every year. When China and Korea were similarly young and poor, they employed their growing labor force and consequently grew faster than India is today. India, by contrast, risks squandering its population dividend. The joblessness, especially among the middle class and lower-middle class, contributes to another problem: a growing gulf between the prosperity of the rich and the rest.

The Modi administration has, of course, taken India forward in important ways, including building out physical infrastructure (so that transportation is quicker) and expanding digital infrastructure (so that payments are easier). Welfare benefits, such as free food grains and gas cylinders, now reach beneficiaries directly and without corruption. Startups abound, and Indian scientists and engineers have scored notable successes, such as sending a satellite to Mars and landing a rover on the moon’s south pole. Taken together, however, the last decade has been decidedly a mixed economic bag for the average Indian.

Some of the challenges India faces have been long in the making, but the administration’s policies have also contributed in important ways. The government’s 2016 ban on high-value currency notes hurt small and midsized businesses, which were further damaged by Modi’s mismanagement of the pandemic. Perhaps most concerning is the government’s attempt to kick-start manufacturing through a mix of subsidies and tariffs—a growth strategy modeled on China—while neglecting other development paths that would play to India’s strengths. The Modi administration has, in particular, underinvested in improving the capabilities of the country’s enormous population: the critical asset India needs to navigate its future.

In the ongoing election, the opposition has strived to highlight Indians’ economic anxiety. But Modi is a charismatic and savvy politician, and he has established a strong connection with ordinary Indians—in part by persuading them that his administration has made India into a respected global power. Many Indians will vote for him on the hope that he will eventually deliver progress, even if they have not seen much improvement in the last decade. Others will vote for him because of the government’s genuine success at efficiently delivering more benefits. Still more will vote BJP because the mainstream media, largely co-opted by the government, trumpets the government’s successes without scrutinizing its failures.

India needs to change economic course. That is less likely if the BJP wins with an overwhelming majority because the party will see victory as an affirmation of its policies. What is more worrying is that subsequent, growing authoritarianism—which shrinks the space for protest and criticism—may continue to grow, and further diminish the likelihood of a course correction. Conversely, if the election produces a strong opposition, no matter its identity, India has a fighting chance of securing the economic future its people desperately want.

Ashwin Ramaswami, Gen-Z Indian-American, Wins Democratic Primary in Georgia, Eyes Historic State Senate Seat

Ashwin Ramaswami, a pioneering Gen-Z Indian-American, has won the Democratic primary in Georgia, positioning himself for a significant contest in November against Republican Senator Shawn Still. Still was indicted alongside Donald Trump for his role as a fake elector in the 2020 election. Ramaswami, 23, views this race as a prime opportunity, calling it “the most flippable State Senate seat in Georgia.”

Ramaswami’s victory is momentous, potentially making him Georgia’s first Gen-Z State Senator and the only legislator in the state with both a computer science and law degree. He aims to blend his technological expertise and legal acumen to bring innovative solutions to the state legislature.

Born to Indian immigrant parents from Tamil Nadu, Ramaswami’s journey began with his education at Chinmaya Mission Balavihar, which instilled in him a deep appreciation for Sanskrit and ancient Indian texts. This early exposure to Indian culture seamlessly merged with his American upbringing, fostering a unique dual identity. He later graduated from Stanford University with a degree in computer science, setting the stage for a career that bridges technology and public service.

Professionally, Ramaswami has a rich background, having collaborated with nonprofits, startups, and small businesses to harness technology for public benefit and job creation. His role at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) during the 2020 and 2022 elections underscored his commitment to cybersecurity and election integrity. Additionally, his tenure as a legal fellow in the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division honed his skills in protecting consumer rights.

Ramaswami’s campaign is financially robust, having raised over $280,000 with $208,000 in cash reserves. This financial strength bolsters his position for the upcoming general election, highlighting the increasing involvement of young, diverse candidates in American politics.

Ramaswami’s story is one of blending cultures, leveraging technology for public good, and aiming for historic political representation. His campaign symbolizes the evolving landscape of American politics, where young, technologically savvy, and diverse candidates are stepping into significant roles to shape the future. As Ramaswami moves forward, his blend of Indian heritage and American innovation positions him uniquely to make substantial contributions to Georgia’s legislature.

Mixed Signals in US Economy: Low Unemployment and Rising Wages Mask Debt Concerns and Inflation Woes

The US economy is currently exhibiting some unusual characteristics. With millions of job openings and a notably low unemployment rate, one might assume the economy is thriving. Historically, low unemployment correlates with economic prosperity. However, numerous warning signs suggest otherwise, including a significant number of Gen Z individuals accruing high credit card debt, leading lenders to withhold further credit.

This mixed economic data presents a conundrum: positive news is often accompanied by concerning indicators. “I wouldn’t give the economy a clean bill of health,” remarked Gregory Daco, chief economist at EY. “It looks robust, but there are pockets of concern.”

While economists offer nuanced views, political figures present more polarized perspectives. President Joe Biden claims the economy is booming but acknowledges ongoing challenges. Conversely, former President Donald Trump declares, “the economy is crashing,” suggesting a state of chaos during a campaign rally in Wisconsin.

The Good

For those with an optimistic view of the economy, recent labor market data offers encouraging news. There are currently 8.5 million job openings, exceeding pre-pandemic figures by 1.5 million. With 6.5 million unemployed individuals, the ratio of jobs to job seekers is more than one-to-one, a stark improvement from the pre-pandemic average ratio of 0.6.

Average hourly earnings for Americans have risen by 22% since before the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though wage increases are slowing, they still outpace price rises, meaning consumers have more purchasing power.

The Bad

Despite a significant reduction from its peak in summer 2022, inflation remains a concern. Achieving the Federal Reserve’s 2% target is proving to be a slow process, surprising many Fed officials, including Gov. Christopher Waller. “The first three months of 2024 threw cold water on that outlook, as data on both inflation and economic activity came in much hotter than anticipated,” Waller noted. However, he found the slight cooling in April’s Consumer Price Index to be “welcome relief.” He stated, “If I were still a professor and had to assign a grade to this inflation report, it would be a C+— far from failing but not stellar either.”

Despite this, consumer surveys indicate expectations of rising inflation, which can drive businesses to increase prices, perpetuating the inflation cycle. Early retail spending data for April was weaker than expected, suggesting consumers are tightening their belts. This reduction in spending is positive in preventing retailers from raising prices but poses a risk to the economy, given that consumer spending is a major economic driver.

David Alcaly, lead macroeconomic strategist at Lazard, commented on the mixed signals: “It certainly bears watching, but part of the weakness probably was ‘payback’ for strength in prior months.” Gregory Daco noted that consumers are being “a little more cautious, but are not retrenching.” A significant slowdown in spending could negatively impact the economy, he warned.

The Ugly

A major concern in the current economic landscape is the rising debt levels. Consumer spending has been resilient despite high inflation and interest rates, partly due to increased reliance on credit cards. However, savings accumulated during the pandemic are dwindling, leading to more credit card debt that is not being repaid on time.

The cooling labor market is reducing workers’ leverage, contributing to increased debt and serious delinquencies, defined as payments over 90 days late. New York Fed data reveals that the percentage of credit card balances in serious delinquency is at its highest since 2012.

Sung Won Sohn, an economics and finance professor at Loyola Marymount University and chief economist of SS Economics, highlighted the broader implications: “The rising levels of consumer debt and delinquency rates, if continued, are not just individual problems; they could have macroeconomic effects requiring attention from economic policymakers.” As more income is diverted to debt repayment, less is available for other purchases, potentially slowing economic growth. Rising delinquencies may prompt banks to tighten lending criteria or increase interest rates, further straining borrowers. These combined effects “can contribute to a broader economic slowdown — or even a recession,” Sohn warned.

While the US economy shows signs of strength, including low unemployment and rising wages, there are significant concerns. High levels of consumer debt and inflation, coupled with cautious spending, present risks that could undermine economic stability. As the situation evolves, it will require careful monitoring and responsive policymaking to navigate potential challenges.

Senate Democrats Question Justice Alito’s Impartiality Over Upside-Down Flag Incident

Senate Democrats are publicly challenging Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s impartiality after reports emerged that an upside-down American flag flew outside his home during the days surrounding January 6, 2021, and President Biden’s inauguration. Alito, known for his conservative stance on the Court, is under intense scrutiny as the justices prepare to rule on key decisions related to the January 6 attack.

Alito has stated that he had no involvement with the flag, which symbolizes distress and has been adopted by the “stop the steal” movement claiming former President Trump did not lose the 2020 election. He explained that his wife hung the flag amid a dispute with neighbors. However, this explanation has not quelled the Democrats’ concerns, who are deeply troubled by the incident amidst an ongoing debate over judicial ethics.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) expressed grave concern, saying, “Terribly, terribly alarming. To fly the flag upside down means a very specific thing. … It is not enough to just say, ‘My wife got mad.’ Consider me as alarmed as I possibly could be.” Historically, an upside-down flag has signified distress, such as a ship in trouble. Schatz added, “I never thought he was impartial, but appearing to be impartial is also important. I’d be less alarmed if he had a Trump flag. ‘Nation in distress’ is a very specific thing people do with the American flag. It’s in the U.S. flag code; it means a specific thing. He’s not merely expressing his political preference — he’s saying something that’s borderline revolutionary.”

Led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Democrats are calling for Alito to recuse himself from upcoming rulings on January 6-related cases, notably the decision on whether Trump is immune from prosecution for his actions. However, further action seems unlikely. Durbin noted that the Judiciary panel has no plans to investigate or hold a hearing on the incident, stating that there’s “not much to be gained at this point” by doing so. The only potential recourse if Alito does not recuse himself would be impeachment, which Durbin indicated is not currently being considered.

The news has reignited long-standing Democratic grievances with Alito, particularly following his majority opinion in the Dobbs decision that overturned national abortion rights and reports of him receiving gifts and vacations from wealthy GOP donors. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the No. 3 Senate Democrat, expressed her outrage, stating, “I think that’s outrageous. I think that’s absolutely outrageous,” and further questioning his judicial impartiality. “Without a doubt,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. I find it appalling.”

Durbin has been advocating for a new ethics code for justices, following revelations that both Alito and fellow conservative Justice Clarence Thomas have accepted lavish gifts and vacations from wealthy benefactors. Thomas has also faced criticism for his wife Virginia Thomas’s involvement in efforts to overturn the 2020 election result. Despite this, he has not recused himself from January 6-related cases.

Republicans, however, are largely supporting Alito. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) dismissed the Democrats’ calls for recusal as the latest form of “harassment” against conservative justices, dating back to Thomas’s confirmation hearings in 1991. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) echoed this sentiment, calling the recusal demands “an idiotic thing to think that has nothing to do with what’s going on with the flag.”

Some Republican senators did express discomfort with the situation. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) acknowledged that it wasn’t a wise decision, despite the high tensions around the Alito residence. “Emotions are apparently high in that neighborhood. But no, it’s not good judgment to do that,” Graham said. “He said his wife was insulted and got mad. I assume that to be true, but he’s still a Supreme Court justice, and people have to realize that [at] moments like that to think it through.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) found the decision to hoist the upside-down flag disappointing and peculiar. “To have it happen at all was really strange. … It’s just weird,” Rounds remarked. “I would expect that he would be professional enough to where it would not cloud his judgment or his ability to make impartial decisions.” He added, “I was [disappointed]. I was, yeah. Just simply having that symbol flown in that way by anybody to me is disappointing.”

Others defended Alito’s account, emphasizing that despite his role on the court, his wife should be free to express herself. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) stated, “I don’t think justices should express political opinions. But Justice Alito didn’t say anything to anybody. He didn’t put the flag up, his spouse did. And I don’t think you can tell spouses that they have to forfeit their right to say what they believe.”

The controversy surrounding Justice Alito’s upside-down flag has intensified the debate over judicial impartiality and ethics. While Democrats call for recusal and express deep concern, Republicans largely defendAlito, viewing the issue as an extension of ongoing partisan battles over the judiciary.

Nikki Haley Pledges Support for Trump Despite Past Criticisms, Urges Outreach to Her Supporters

Nikki Haley, who became a prominent rival and outspoken critic of Donald Trump during the Republican primary elections, has announced her intention to vote for the former US president in November. This revelation came during her address at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington on Wednesday, marking her first public appearance since exiting the race in March. When questioned about who would better handle national security issues between Joe Biden and Trump, Haley provided her perspective.

The former UN ambassador and South Carolina governor outlined her criteria for selecting a president, which include supporting allies, holding adversaries accountable, endorsing capitalism and freedom, and reducing national debt. She acknowledged Trump’s imperfections in these areas, stating, “Trump has not been perfect on these policies. I have made that clear many, many times. But Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump.”

Despite this endorsement, the 52-year-old Haley cautioned Trump not to take her supporters for granted. “Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech. Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they’re just going to be with him. And I genuinely hope he does that.”

Haley’s decision places her alongside other notable Republicans like Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, former Attorney General William Barr, and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, who, despite their previous criticisms, now support Trump as the party nominee. Throughout the contentious primary campaign, Haley had criticized Trump for lacking political viability, showing moral weakness, and being “thin-skinned and easily distracted.” She had advocated for moving beyond his “chaos.” Trump responded by dismissing reports that he might consider her as his running mate.

Haley’s reversal has sparked immediate backlash. Sarah Longwell, a political strategist and publisher of the conservative Bulwark website, tweeted, “So when Nikki Haley said, ‘It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him.’ She really meant, he can treat me and my voters like garbage and I’ll still fall in line and support him.” Former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh added, “This isn’t complicated: Nikki Haley believes Trump is unfit. And she believes he should never be back in the White House. But if she said that publicly, her career as a Republican would be over. So, as expected, she decided to not be truthful. To keep her career as a Republican.”

Although she exited the primaries in early March, Haley has continued to attract up to 20% in the contests, posing a potential challenge for Trump’s campaign. The former president has dismissed the necessity of courting Haley’s supporters, whereas Biden, during an event in Atlanta, stated, “Let me say, there’s always going to be a place for Haley voters in my campaign.”

Trump has also secured endorsements from other former Republican primary opponents, including North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

At the Hudson Institute event, attended by several foreign ambassadors, Haley was vocally critical of far-right Republicans who advocate for “America first” isolationism, though she refrained from mentioning Trump directly. She commended House Speaker Mike Johnson for advancing aid for Israel and Ukraine through Congress.

“A growing number of Democrats and Republicans have forgotten what makes America safe,” she asserted. “A loud part of each party wants us to abandon our allies, appease our enemies, and focus only on the problems we have at home. They believe if we leave the world alone, the world will leave us alone. They even say ignoring global chaos will somehow make our country more secure. It will not. This worldview has already put America in great danger and the threat is mounting by the day.”

Haley’s critique extended to both parties, emphasizing the dangers of isolationism. She highlighted the increasing number of politicians who favor disengagement from global affairs, arguing that such an approach jeopardizes national security. Her remarks underscored the importance of maintaining international alliances and addressing global threats proactively.

The evolving dynamics within the Republican Party and Haley’s stance reflect the broader tensions and strategic considerations as the 2024 presidential election approaches. Her endorsement of Trump, despite past criticisms, exemplifies the complexities faced by many Republicans navigating the party’s future direction.

As the election nears, Haley’s role and influence within the party, along with her potential impact on voter alignment, will be closely watched. Her recent statements and the reactions they have elicited highlight the ongoing debates over leadership, policy priorities, and the path forward for the GOP.

Trump Alleges DOJ Plot to Kill Him, Stoking Political Tensions Ahead of 2024 Election

In a recent series of social media posts and a fundraising email sent on Tuesday, Donald Trump made an alarming accusation, claiming that the Department of Justice (DoJ) was poised to kill him. This inflammatory assertion comes amid his ongoing hush-money trial in New York and growing concerns about political violence leading up to the 2024 presidential election, particularly from far-right factions. These comments reinforce a narrative that Trump and his supporters have been promoting, which paints him as a patriotic figure besieged by anti-democratic deep-state operatives.

Such incendiary claims are likely to inflame his supporters’ anger and perpetuate conspiracy theories. The fundraising email, ostensibly signed by Trump, stated, “You know they’re just itching to do the unthinkable… Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

On Truth Social, Trump reiterated his claims, alleging, “Crooked Joe Biden’s DoJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE.” This statement appears to reference the search warrant executed in August 2022, when FBI agents, seeking classified documents that Trump had allegedly withheld, raided his Mar-a-Lago estate.

In a May court filing, Trump’s legal team highlighted a section titled “The Illegal Raid” and quoted a line from the search warrant. They stated, “The Order contained a ‘Policy Statement’ regarding ‘Use Of Deadly Force,’ which stated, for example, ‘Law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force when necessary.’” This language is part of the DoJ’s policy on the use of force during search warrants, which specifies, “Law enforcement officers and correctional officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

The FBI executed the search warrant at Trump’s Florida residence while he was in New York and coordinated with Secret Service agents to ensure the operation proceeded smoothly. An FBI statement clarified that the language in the warrant was “a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force. No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter.”

Reports from The Washington Post corroborate that FBI agents chose a day for the raid when Trump would not be at Mar-a-Lago and informed the Secret Service in advance.

Trump’s exaggerated statements have sparked a strong reaction. Christina Bobb, a Trump attorney who had signed documents before the search asserting Trump’s compliance with the subpoena for documents, responded with disbelief on social media. She wrote on X, “WTF?!! They were prepared to kill me?! A few dozen FBI agents v. me and they were ready to kill me?!!! What in the world happened to the United States of America?!”

Similarly, Paul Gosar, an Arizona congressman and Trump ally, expressed his outrage on X, writing, “These people are sick.” He later added, “Biden ordered the hit on Trump at Mar-A-Lago.”

These rhetorical shifts—from the substance of Trump’s various legal troubles, which include allegations of financial misconduct, mishandling classified documents, and attempts to overturn the 2020 election—are part of a broader strategy employed by Trump and his supporters as the 2024 election approaches. This strategy involves redirecting accusations of anti-democratic behavior back at Trump’s critics, whom he labels as “enemies.” According to Trump, it is the DoJ, media, Democrats, and so-called RINOs (Republicans in name only) who are the true threats to democracy.

Despite Trump’s warnings of “death and destruction” if he is charged with crimes and his defense of supporters who called for the execution of former Vice President Mike Pence for not participating in the plan to overturn the election, he continues to position himself as a victim. In his post accusing the DoJ of planning to use lethal force, Trump asserted, “NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY.”

Trump’s escalating rhetoric and dramatic claims about threats to his life highlight the tense and polarized political climate in the United States. As the 2024 presidential election draws nearer, these statements are likely to further energize his base, potentially increasing the risk of political violence and deepening the divide within the country.

Indian-American Lawmakers Advocate Constructive Dialogue on Human Rights with India

Indian-American lawmakers reaffirmed on Thursday their commitment to addressing human rights issues in India with its leadership but cautioned that lecturing New Delhi is counterproductive. They advocated for a constructive dialogue on these concerns.

“India was colonized for over 100 years,” said Congressman Ro Khanna, speaking to the Indian American community during the ‘Desi Decides’ Summit of Indian American Impact. “When discussing human rights with figures like External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, you have to understand that just coming in from the perspective of lecturing India… it is not going to be productive.”

Khanna, who co-chairs the Congressional India Caucus, was joined by Indian American lawmakers Shri Thanedar, Pramila Jayapal, and Dr. Ami Bera. The panel discussion, moderated by ABC national correspondent Zohreen Shah, addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s relationship with the Muslim community.

“Having a conversation saying, here are the imperfections in our democracy, what are the imperfections in your democracy, and how do we collectively advance democracy and human rights, I think is a more constructive approach,” Khanna said.

Bera agreed with Khanna’s approach, emphasizing the importance of India maintaining its secular identity. “If India loses its secular nature, it changes who she is as a country and how the rest of the world views it,” he said. Bera drew a distinction between Modi’s leadership and a potential Trump presidency in the U.S., underscoring the resilience of American democracy. “Because we still have a vibrant democracy here. We have a vibrant opposition party in the Democratic Party. We still believe in the freedom of the press and those are all things that I worry about for India’s future.”

Bera expressed concerns about press freedom and the state of opposition in India. “You’re not really seeing a viable opposition party or it’s being dismantled. The vibrant democracy has to have all of those things, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the ability to push back. I hope you don’t ever see a second Trump presidency. But if that were to happen, you will see our democracy survive the first time, push back, and our democracy will survive. I certainly hope India’s democracy survives.”

Jayapal concurred with both Bera and Khanna, emphasizing the importance of addressing imperfections both in the U.S. and globally. “The only thing I would add is that I think we have to be able to critique our own country’s imperfections and any other country’s imperfections. That’s actually our job in Congress. We shouldn’t lecture, I agree with Ro (Khanna). But we do have to think about all of the United States’ interests. That is economic, for sure. India is an important partner for us. It’s an important partner because of other regional dynamics as well and global dynamics.”

She stressed that holding India accountable does not contradict the U.S. values of promoting human rights and democracy. “It is also important for us to think about our values. Just like we criticize the Chinese government for the treatment of Uyghurs or any other country in the world, we have to be able to also look at what’s happening in India and call attention to it.”

Jayapal shared her personal experiences facing criticism for her stance on these issues. “I know that I have been called a bad Indian and all kinds of other things for raising these. But I would just say I’m not backing away from that because those are the values of the United States. Those are my values. I don’t think it means that you don’t appreciate or like or want a partnership between India and the United States to raise legitimate concerns about freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and all of the other things that we are seeing in India any more than if we raise it here it means somehow that we’re bad Americans. No, that is our job to be moving towards a more perfect union in the United States and with all of our global partnerships.”

Thanedar emphasized the strategic importance of a robust India-U.S. relationship, particularly in countering Chinese aggression. “We need a strong US-India relationship. India historically has been playing both sides, Russia and US. But it’s time for India to commit to a strong friendship with the United States, and that’s something that I want to work on. The United States has to recognize India’s power, its economic power, and India remains the best solution to counteract China’s aggression. So, I’m just working on a strong India-US relationship.”

Indian-American lawmakers are urging a balanced approach to discussing human rights with India, one that recognizes the historical context and promotes mutual democratic values. They stress the importance of maintaining a strong bilateral relationship while addressing issues like press freedom and secularism.

Vice President Harris Honors Her Mother and Denounces Division at White House AANHPI Celebration

On May 13, 2024, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a White House Rose Garden reception celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage (AANHPI) Month, where she highlighted her mother Shyamala Gopalan’s profound impact on her life. Gopalan, born in Chennai, India, immigrated to the U.S. alone at 19, aiming to raise her daughters and combat breast cancer as a researcher. Harris attributed her success to her mother’s unwavering determination, stating, “My mother never asked anyone’s permission to pursue her dreams. And it is because of her character, strength, and determination that within one generation, I stand before you as Vice President.”

Harris also warned about current extremist efforts to foster division in the country, using positions of influence to incite “xenophobia and hate, including anti-Asian hate.” She emphasized the importance of strength in uplifting others and condemned attacks on fundamental freedoms such as voting rights, safety from gun violence, freedom from hate and bigotry, and women’s rights over their own bodies. “We see a full-on assault, state by state on our most fundamental freedoms and rights,” she said.

President Joe Biden humorously introduced himself, “My name is Joe Biden. I work for Kamala Harris,” and highlighted the nation’s identity as a land of immigrants and dreamers. He emphasized the progress made together and promoted his comprehensive immigration reform bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and an expansion of green cards. Biden urged Congress to act, stressing the need for unity against the divisive rhetoric of former President Donald Trump. Biden criticized Trump’s derogatory statements about immigrants, saying, “He [Trump] calls immigrants’ rapists and murderers… He says immigrants are poisoning the blood of our country.” Biden stressed his vision of a country inclusive of all people.

The reception featured patriotic songs and Indian cuisine, such as Paani puri and Khoya. Additionally, a special celebration, ‘Lasting Legacies,’ was held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium to mark the 25th anniversary of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on AANHPI.

At the event, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discussed the importance of disaggregating data for the AANHPI community and addressed rising hate crimes. He remarked, “We always have known that there is always hate out there and that sometimes it translates to criminal conduct… This commission has taken with a vengeance to address [it].”

Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, acknowledged AANHPI leaders in the Biden administration, including Vice President Harris and others, while recalling pioneers like Representatives Dalip Singh Saund and Patsy Mink, and Secretary Norman Mineta, the first Asian American in a President’s Cabinet. Tai emphasized, “Our administration is fighting against anti AANHPI hate and violence… We are empowering members of our community… to succeed.”

Neera Tanden, Chair of the President’s Domestic Policy Council, emphasized her commitment to representing all Americans, ensuring AANHPI voices are heard in government policies on education, health care, crime, and immigration. She stated, “A priority for us is to make sure the government really represents the needs and views of all Americans.”

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy shared his parents’ story of overcoming hardships to immigrate to the U.S., illustrating the promise of America. Reflecting on his grandfather, a poor farmer in South India, he said, “My grandfather… could never have dreamed that one day his grandson, would be asked by the President to look out for the health of an entire nation.”

Ajay Bhutoria, AANHPI Commissioner, highlighted the commission’s advocacy on economic equality, data disaggregation, language access, and immigration issues, praising the efforts of key figures like Krystal Ka‘ai and Erika Moritsugu. Bhutoria told News India Times, “The Commission has been advocating for issues important to the community around advancing economic equality, data disaggregation, language access, Green Card backlog, H1B visa stamping.”

Trump Leads Biden in Battleground States Amidst Calls for Change and Economic Concerns

Donald J. Trump leads President Biden in five pivotal battleground states, according to fresh polls, amid a growing desire for change and dissatisfaction over economic issues and the conflict in Gaza, particularly among young, Black, and Hispanic voters, posing a threat to the Democratic coalition.

The recent surveys conducted by The New York Times, Siena College, and The Philadelphia Inquirer indicate that Mr. Trump holds the lead among registered voters in five out of six key states: Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, with Mr. Biden only leading in Wisconsin among registered voters.

Among likely voters, the race is tighter, with Mr. Trump leading in five states, but Mr. Biden pulling ahead in Michigan and closely trailing in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Despite Mr. Biden’s victories in these states in 2020, winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin would be sufficient for his re-election, provided he secures victories elsewhere as he did four years ago.

These findings remain largely consistent since the last series of Times/Siena polls in battleground states in November, despite various developments such as a 25% increase in the stock market, the commencement of Mr. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, and significant campaign advertisements by the Biden camp across these states.

However, there’s little indication from the polls that these developments have swayed voter sentiment in favor of Mr. Biden or against Mr. Trump. Economic concerns, immigration, the conflict in Gaza, and a desire for change persist as factors affecting the president’s standing. Though Mr. Biden saw a surge in momentum following his State of the Union address in March, he continues to lag behind in national and battleground state polls.

The polls reveal a widespread dissatisfaction with the country’s current state and skepticism regarding Mr. Biden’s capacity to effect substantial improvements. While a majority of voters crave a return to the normalcy promised by Mr. Biden, those in battleground states are particularly anxious for change, with nearly 70% believing that significant changes are needed in the political and economic systems.

Only a small fraction of Mr. Biden’s supporters anticipate major changes in his second term, while even some who oppose Mr. Trump concede that he might disrupt the unsatisfactory status quo.

Mr. Trump’s appeal among young and nonwhite voters seems to have shifted the electoral landscape temporarily, particularly in diverse Sun Belt states like Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, where Black and Hispanic voters played a pivotal role in Mr. Biden’s previous victories.

Nonetheless, Mr. Biden remains competitive, especially among older and white voters who prioritize democracy as the most crucial issue. This demographic provides him with support in the relatively white Northern swing states.

Economic concerns, including the cost of living, remain paramount for a quarter of voters and pose a significant challenge to Mr. Biden’s prospects. Despite improvements in certain economic indicators, a considerable portion of voters still perceive the economy as poor, impacting their perceptions of the current administration’s performance.

For voters like Jennifer Wright, a registered nurse in Michigan, and Jacob Sprague, a systems engineer in Nevada, economic factors heavily influence their electoral decisions, with both expressing dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs.

Despite Mr. Biden’s assertions about the economy’s health, many voters, like Sprague, remain unconvinced, citing personal experiences of rising expenses.

With less than six months until the election, there remains the possibility of an economic upturn bolstering Mr. Biden’s standing. Historically, early-stage polls haven’t always accurately predicted outcomes, and Mr. Trump’s recent gains among traditionally Democratic demographics may not be solidified, especially among disengaged voters.

Additionally, a significant portion of voters blame Mr. Biden more than Mr. Trump for the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, presenting an opportunity for the Biden campaign to sway voters as the election approaches.

Abortion emerges as a significant vulnerability for Mr. Trump, with a majority of voters in battleground states supporting its legality. Despite the Biden campaign’s efforts to highlight Mr. Trump’s stance on abortion, voters still prefer Mr. Biden to handle the issue by a significant margin.

However, Mr. Biden’s main challenge may lie in appealing to disaffected voters who desire fundamental changes in American society, a demographic that has traditionally leaned Democratic but has been swayed by Mr. Trump’s anti-establishment brand of conservatism.

Seventy percent of voters believe Mr. Trump will either enact major changes or dismantle the current systems, compared to only 24 percent who expect the same from Mr. Biden. Despite reservations about Mr. Trump personally, a significant portion of voters view him as a force for positive change.

Mr. Trump’s appeal is particularly strong among voters who advocate for substantial systemic changes, a group he leads by a considerable margin. On the other hand, Mr. Biden retains much of his support from voters who believe minor changes suffice.

In conclusion, the polls highlight Mr. Biden’s challenges in retaining support among crucial demographics while also appealing to voters disillusioned with the current state of affairs. As the election nears, economic conditions and the candidates’ ability to address voter concerns will likely play decisive roles in determining the outcome.

Legal Battle Escalates: TikTok Challenges New Law Amid National Security Concerns

TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, are facing a significant challenge to their operations in the U.S., prompting them to resort to legal action, once again invoking the First Amendment. The company has filed a lawsuit against a new bipartisan law that mandates it to divest TikTok or face a ban in the country. This law, known as the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, is designed to address national security concerns arising from TikTok’s ties to China. Despite TikTok’s past successes in court using First Amendment arguments, this new law presents additional hurdles, as it is specifically tailored to address national security threats.

Sarah Kreps, director of the Tech Policy Institute at Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy, noted the ongoing efforts to ensure the constitutionality of such measures, emphasizing the evolving legal landscape since the Trump administration’s initial attempts to ban TikTok in 2020. The swift passage of the recent law, signed by President Biden, underscores the bipartisan consensus on the perceived national security risks posed by TikTok.

The law gained momentum in Congress, receiving bipartisan support and advancing rapidly through the legislative process. It was championed by members of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party and eventually incorporated into a broader package of foreign aid bills. Despite previous legislative efforts targeting TikTok, this new law distinguishes itself by providing ByteDance with an opportunity to sell TikTok before facing a ban and by authorizing the president to designate other apps with ties to adversarial nations.

However, TikTok remains steadfast in its First Amendment defense, arguing that the law unfairly targets the company and imposes an unattainable deadline for divestment. TikTok contends that the mandated divestiture is not feasible and represents an unconstitutional overreach by the government. While TikTok has successfully defended itself against previous bans using First Amendment arguments, the focus of the new law on national security presents a unique challenge.

The Knight First Amendment Institute has voiced opposition to both the federal law and previous state-level attempts to ban TikTok. According to George Wang, a staff attorney at the institute, any restriction on free speech must be justified by compelling evidence of harm, which the government has yet to provide convincingly.

The passage of the law was facilitated by a classified briefing to lawmakers from the intelligence community, highlighting potential security threats posed by TikTok. Despite some dissenting voices, the bill garnered broad bipartisan support, signaling a rare consensus on the perceived national security risks associated with TikTok.

Kreps observed that such broad bipartisan support lends credence to the notion of TikTok as a national security threat, given the typically polarized political climate. This unanimity among lawmakers and the executive branch strengthens the perception of TikTok as a significant security concern.

TikTok and ByteDance are challenging a new law aimed at addressing national security threats posed by the app’s Chinese ownership. Despite TikTok’s history of successfully using First Amendment arguments in court, the specific focus of this law on national security presents fresh challenges. The bipartisan support for the law underscores the widespread concern over TikTok’s potential risks, as perceived by both lawmakers and the intelligence community.

Federal Judge Blocks Biden’s Credit Card Late Fee Regulation Amidst Legal Battle

A federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, issued an injunction on Friday, halting a recent Biden administration regulation that aimed to cap late fees charged by credit card companies at $8.

The ruling by US District Judge Mark T. Pittman, a nominee of former President Donald Trump, granted a preliminary injunction requested by various business and banking entities who contended that the new regulation infringed upon several federal laws.

These entities, spearheaded by the conservative-leaning US Chamber of Commerce, initiated legal action against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) subsequent to the finalization of the regulation in March. The regulation, slated for implementation on Tuesday, was forecasted by the CFPB to save consumers approximately $10 billion annually by reducing fees from an average of $32.

A preliminary injunction effectively stalls the implementation of the regulation until a hearing can be convened to delve into the case with more depth.

“The credit card lobby’s lawsuit is an attempt to derail a rule that will save families $10 billion each year in order to continue making tens of billions of dollars in profits by charging borrowers late fees that far exceed their actual costs,” stated a spokesperson for the CFPB in a communication with CNN. “Consumers will shoulder $800 million in late fees every month that the rule is delayed — money that pads the profit margins of the largest credit card issuers. We will continue to defend this rule so that working families can stop paying excessive late fees that Congress banned more than a decade ago.”

The US Chamber of Commerce declined to comment in response to CNN’s inquiry.

“It is disappointing that the court has granted this last-ditch effort by the banks to prevent these critical limits on credit card late fees from going into effect next week,” remarked Chuck Bell, advocacy program director for non-profit Consumer Reports. “Credit card companies have been bilking consumers out of billions of dollars in excessive late fees for far too long.”

The regulation, initially proposed in February 2023, forms part of a broader initiative by the Biden administration to eradicate “junk fees,” which are regarded as concealed or deceptive charges imposed on consumers.

The newly established regulation would be applicable to major credit card issuers — those with over 1 million accounts. Such companies account for over 95% of the total outstanding credit card debt, according to the CFPB.

The endeavor to target credit card fees aligns with the Biden administration’s endeavors to alleviate financial strains for numerous Americans. Over the past couple of years, high inflation has caused some borrowers, particularly millennials and individuals with lower incomes, to fall behind on their credit card debt.

Furthermore, the regulation aimed to close a loophole from 2010 that the CFPB alleges has been “exploited” by credit card companies to escalate fees on overdue payments.

Based on a national survey conducted by Consumer Reports and published in September, one out of five American adults disclosed that they had incurred a credit card late fee within the preceding 12 months. Eighty-two percent of respondents expressed support for lowering the maximum late fee.

Glitz, Glamour, and Giving: Inside the Enigmatic World of the Met Gala

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City sparkled with star-studded glamour as it hosted the annual Met Gala on Monday evening, drawing celebrities and fashion icons to what’s often dubbed “fashion’s biggest night.” The gala, renowned for its eclectic array of outfits ranging from the exquisite to the eccentric, poses questions about its essence, purpose, and significance.

At its core, the Met Gala, formally known as the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit, serves as a vital fundraising affair for the museum’s Costume Institute. Held typically on the first Monday of May, the event stands out as the sole occasion where the Costume Institute generates funds, doing so with grandeur and panache.

This invitation-only extravaganza boasts a guest list comprising luminaries from various domains, each year tasked with interpreting a predetermined theme through their attire, echoing the theme of the concurrent Costume Institute exhibition. The gala’s thematic focus injects creativity into the sartorial landscape, driving attendees to push the boundaries of fashion and innovation, thereby igniting both admiration and amusement across the internet.

The Costume Institute itself houses a rich repository of over thirty-three thousand artifacts spanning seven centuries of fashion history, catering to men, women, and children alike. Originating as the Museum of Costume Art in 1937 before merging with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1946, it has evolved into a distinguished curatorial department, chronicling the evolution of style through the ages.

Financially, the Met Gala thrives on sponsorship from various entities, with prominent names such as TikTok, Loewe, and Condé Nast lending support. Revenue streams primarily stem from ticket sales and table reservations, the latter commanding exorbitant prices, with tables starting at $350,000, attracting major brands and fashion conglomerates.

The Met Gala’s ascent to global prominence wasn’t immediate, tracing its roots back to a modest fundraising dinner in 1948 orchestrated by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert. It was under the stewardship of fashion doyenne Diana Vreeland, who assumed consultancy in 1972, that the gala transcended its local confines, embracing an ethos of thematic storytelling and inviting a constellation of luminaries to grace its halls.

While the gala’s evolution owes much to luminaries like Vreeland, many attribute its modern-day eminence to Anna Wintour, the influential editor-in-chief of Vogue and Condé Nast’s Global Chief Content Officer. Wintour’s tenure as the event’s chief orchestrator since 1999 has elevated it to a coveted societal milestone, with her discerning curation of the guest list endowing the gala with an aura of exclusivity. Notably, Wintour’s decisive stance in 2017 to eschew inviting former President Donald Trump, a once-regular attendee, underscored her influence in shaping the gala’s guest roster.

This year, notable Indian presence at the gala included actress Alia Bhatt, adding a touch of global diversity to the event’s milieu. With each edition, the gala appoints official hosts, with this year’s cohort featuring luminaries such as Bad Bunny, Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, and Chris Hemsworth, alongside Wintour.

Beyond the spectacle of the red carpet and the gracious welcome by the hosts lies a shroud of mystery enveloping the guests’ activities. Prohibited from carrying phones, attendees embark on an evening veiled in secrecy, partaking in exclusive exhibitions curated by the Costume Institute before indulging in a sumptuous dinner. High-profile performances punctuate the evening, further enhancing its allure and mystique.

TikTok Challenges U.S. Law Targeting Its Ownership

TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have taken legal action against a U.S. law aimed at compelling the divestment of the popular social media app from its Chinese-based ownership or facing a ban in the United States. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday against the U.S. government, contends that the law, known as the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversaries Act, infringes upon the First Amendment rights.

The legislation grants ByteDance a 270-day window to offload TikTok to a new entity that would oversee its operations in the U.S. Failure to comply would result in the app being barred from American networks and online platforms. Additionally, the president has the authority to grant ByteDance an extra 90 days if deemed necessary.

TikTok and ByteDance argue that a “qualified divestiture” is unattainable, citing commercial, technological, and legal challenges. They assert that such a move would inevitably lead to the shutdown of the app in the U.S., impacting millions of daily users. Furthermore, TikTok criticizes the law for singling out the app by name, while the president is granted the power to identify other applications falling under similar regulations, though TikTok and ByteDance are the sole entities explicitly mentioned in the legislation.

Even if a sale were feasible, TikTok maintains that the law represents an “extraordinary and unconstitutional assertion of power.” It contends that the legislation sets a dangerous precedent, allowing Congress to circumvent First Amendment protections by invoking national security concerns to compel the divestment of any media outlet.

This legal challenge represents the latest and most significant threat to TikTok’s presence in the U.S., although it is not the first time the company has faced such peril. Previously, the Trump administration attempted to enact a ban on TikTok, which was thwarted by federal courts. Additionally, TikTok has successfully navigated challenges at the state level, including a Montana law that was later blocked by a judge.

However, the current law poses a formidable obstacle to TikTok’s future operations in the U.S., particularly given its national security underpinnings, which may complicate legal defenses. The legislation garnered swift approval in Congress, with overwhelming bipartisan support. The House passed the bill with a decisive 352-65 vote in March, less than a week after its introduction. Subsequently, the measure was included in a broader foreign aid package that President Biden signed into law last month.

Trump Faces Prospect of Rikers Island Imprisonment Amid Trial: Experts Weigh In

In the event that Donald Trump continues to test the patience of the judge overseeing his hush money trial, there’s a possibility he might find himself back in his native New York City borough of Queens – more precisely, within the confines of the prison on Rikers Island, as indicated by experts on Monday.

Judge Juan Merchan, in response to Trump’s repeated breaches of a gag order prohibiting him from disparaging witnesses or the jury, cautioned the former president about the potential for imprisonment “if necessary” for further infractions.

While Merchan did not specify the exact facility, inquiries regarding Trump’s possible detention at Rikers prompted Frank Dwyer, the jail’s chief spokesperson, to assert that suitable accommodations would be arranged by the department.

Trump has persistently argued that he is a victim of a skewed justice system, claiming unfair treatment compared to others. Conversely, critics argue the opposite, suggesting that Trump’s public statements would have led any other defendant to incarceration by now.

The notion of Trump facing imprisonment while under trial is bound to evoke intense reactions from both his supporters and detractors. Trump’s repeated attempts to leverage the specter of imprisonment for fundraising underscore the potent emotional response it elicits from his base.

Mike Lawlor, an expert in criminal justice at the University of New Haven, outlined Rikers as the probable destination should Merchan pursue this course of action. Lawlor, a Democrat and former Connecticut House member, emphasized Merchan’s aim to curb contempt and prevent Trump from intimidating witnesses and jurors.

Lawlor elaborated on the objective of isolating Trump from his social media platform through incarceration, suggesting that imprisonment would achieve this end. He mentioned that Trump would be placed in protective custody, precluding interaction with other inmates, and limiting contact to corrections officers and his Secret Service detail.

Although Trump’s potential detention would mark an unprecedented occurrence at Rikers, Lawlor noted that the facility has experience housing high-profile individuals, including the elderly like Trump.

The former president’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, currently serves time at Rikers, having been sentenced last month for perjury during Trump’s civil fraud trial.

Moreover, Trump would undergo standard intake procedures, including physical measurements publicly recorded, Lawlor explained.

Regarding the Secret Service’s role, Lawlor emphasized their primary duty of protecting Trump from harm, suggesting that a prison setting might streamline their responsibilities.

Martin F. Horn, a professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, echoed Lawlor’s sentiments, envisioning Trump’s confinement in a facility separate from other inmates to accommodate his security detail.

Nonetheless, ensuring a former president’s safety behind bars presents an unprecedented challenge for the Secret Service, according to a spokesperson for the agency.

Merchan may hesitate to incarcerate Trump for another reason, suggested Dave Aronberg, a state attorney for Palm Beach County. Aronberg implied that imprisonment might align with Trump’s narrative of victimhood, potentially bolstering his support base.

An alternative to imprisonment, proposed by former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin, involves confining Trump to a cell near the New York City courtroom where his trial unfolds, serving as a symbolic reminder of the consequences of breaching court orders.

House arrest remains a feasible option, though Merchan retains considerable discretion in determining Trump’s confinement location, Horn remarked.

Lawlor dismissed the possibility of Trump being confined to his opulent Manhattan residence, citing concerns about continued access to electronics and aides, thus facilitating defiance of court orders.

Ultimately, Merchan faces a weighty decision regarding Trump’s punishment for his repeated violations, with potential implications for both the trial’s proceedings and the broader political landscape.

Republican Officials Unite to Restore Trust in Elections Amidst Growing Doubt

Amidst the buzz of Election Day last November, an incident involving a voting machine glitch in an eastern Pennsylvania county caught the attention of Gabriel Sterling, a prominent Republican election official from Georgia. With a social media following of nearly 71,000 on X platform, Sterling felt compelled to address the issue and reassure the public about the integrity of the electoral process. However, his actions were met with mixed reactions, including criticism for intervening in another state’s affairs and the perpetuation of baseless claims regarding widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Despite the backlash, Sterling remained steadfast in his belief that it was the right course of action for Republican officials to defend the electoral process, emphasizing the importance of dispelling misinformation and standing up for the integrity of elections across state lines. He stressed the necessity for continuous affirmation of the legitimacy of elections, particularly in the face of mounting skepticism, especially among Republican voters, fueled by unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

As the specter of the upcoming presidential rematch between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump looms large, concerns persist among election officials regarding public trust in the electoral system. Trump’s repeated claims of election rigging without evidence only serve to exacerbate these concerns, further eroding confidence in the electoral process.

A poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research last year revealed that only 22% of Republicans expressed high confidence in the accuracy of vote counting. Against this backdrop, there is a growing recognition among Republican officials of the need to rebuild trust in the electoral process, not only as a moral imperative but also as a strategic necessity to ensure voter turnout.

Initiated approximately 18 months ago, a collaborative effort spearheaded by the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University and the center-right think tank R Street Institute seeks to address these challenges by fostering dialogue and developing a set of guiding principles to restore faith in elections, particularly among conservative circles. Contrary to misconceptions, the endeavor is not centered around any individual, including Trump, but rather focuses on upholding democratic values and the rule of law.

A key tenet of this initiative is the public affirmation by Republican officials of the security and integrity of elections nationwide, coupled with a commitment to refrain from sowing doubt about electoral processes in other jurisdictions. This approach is endorsed by figures like Kim Wyman, a former top election official from Washington state, who emphasizes the importance of emphasizing commonalities in election procedures across states rather than dwelling on differences.

However, navigating the delicate balance between promoting confidence in elections and respecting jurisdictional boundaries poses a challenge for some officials. While there is consensus on the need to reinforce general principles of election integrity, there is hesitation among some to comment directly on the affairs of other states, fearing that such actions may undermine trust in their own state’s electoral process.

This cautious approach is echoed by officials like Scott Schwab, the secretary of state for Kansas, who underscores the importance of maintaining trust among constituents by adhering to the confines of their role. Schwab emphasizes the critical link between public trust and the perceived integrity of elections, urging officials to exercise prudence in their public statements.

Conversely, there are voices within the Republican ranks advocating for a more proactive stance on election-related issues. Secretary of State Mac Warner of West Virginia advocates for policy reforms, such as the implementation of voter ID requirements, as a means to bolster confidence in the electoral process. Warner argues that genuine confidence stems from robust protocols rather than stifling dissent.

Similarly, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose criticizes what he views as politically motivated legal challenges and attempts to circumvent legislative frameworks governing elections. LaRose contends that transparency is key in addressing electoral shortcomings, cautioning against sensationalized narratives that undermine public trust.

Amidst these differing perspectives, Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson highlights the broader ramifications of partisan discord surrounding elections, particularly the toll it takes on election workers. Henderson stresses the importance of constructive dialogue over unfounded accusations, emphasizing the need for mutual respect and civility in public discourse.

The efforts of Republican officials to uphold the integrity of elections and restore public trust represent a multifaceted endeavor encompassing both principled advocacy and pragmatic considerations. As the nation braces for another contentious presidential election, the success of these efforts hinges on a collective commitment to democratic values and the rule of law, transcending partisan divides for the greater good of the electoral process.

Trump’s Time Interview: Evasion on Election Violence, Abortion Ambiguity, Netanyahu Critique, and Detained Journalist’s Release

Former President Donald Trump didn’t rule out the potential for violence from his supporters if he isn’t elected in November, indicating it could hinge on the outcome of the presidential race.

“I don’t think we’re going to have that,” Trump, the likely GOP nominee, told Time magazine. “I think we’re going to win. And if we don’t win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.”

These statements emerged from a comprehensive interview with Time published on Tuesday, covering a variety of topics such as abortion and the leadership of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Here are the key points from the interview:

  1. Trump’s Response to Election Conspiracies and January 6 Pardons: Initially, Trump minimized the likelihood of future political violence akin to the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack. However, he later equivocated when pressed by Time, continuing to propagate unfounded election conspiracy theories that he suggested incited the violent mob.

 

  1. Trump’s Abortion Position: Trump’s stance on abortion in the interview showcased the complexities and potential political risks of his approach, particularly regarding his reluctance to veto a federal abortion ban or to object to states penalizing women for undergoing abortions in places where it’s prohibited.

 

  1. Trump’s Critique of Netanyahu: Trump’s criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu intensified following the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel. Trump blamed Netanyahu for perceived security lapses during the incursion, although he stopped short of explicitly calling for Netanyahu’s replacement.

 

  1. Calls for the Release of Evan Gershkovich: Trump tepidly supported the release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia for a year on espionage charges. Trump’s restrained response mirrors his past reluctance to strongly condemn foreign leaders for their treatment of perceived political adversaries, as evidenced by his reactions to the deaths of Alexey Navalny and Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump’s comments in the Time interview reflect his continued refusal to disavow election conspiracies, his nuanced stance on abortion, his renewed criticism of Netanyahu, and his restrained response to the detainment of journalist Evan Gershkovich in Russia.

Judge Poised to Sanction Trump for Gag Order Violations as Testimony Reveals AMI’s Role in 2016 Campaign

Judge Juan Merchan seemed prepared on Tuesday to penalize Donald Trump for violating the gag order in his criminal hush money case after questioning the former president’s attorneys about the acceptability of Trump’s social media posts.

The day commenced with a hearing concerning Trump’s alleged breaches of the gag order, culminating in former American Media Inc. chief David Pecker discussing his vetting process of claims regarding an affair between Trump and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal in 2016. Pecker disclosed his continuous communication with Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, during this period, although Trump has denied the affair.

Despite an abbreviated schedule due to the Passover holiday, the dual impact of the gag order violations and the revelation of “catch-and-kill” deals to suppress negative stories about Trump during the 2016 election made it a vexing day for Trump in court. Trump expressed frustration over the news coverage of the trial and the constraints imposed by the judge’s gag order.

Pecker is set to return to the witness stand on Thursday after a dark day in court on Wednesday. He has already testified about two of the three catch-and-kill deals, leaving discussion of adult film star Stormy Daniels likely for Thursday.

Key takeaways from Tuesday’s proceedings:

**Gag order hearing poses challenges for Trump**

Judge Merchan imposed the gag order before the trial’s commencement, restricting Trump from publicly discussing witnesses, the jury, or the district attorney’s staff. Merchan subsequently broadened the order, which Trump has appealed, to encompass his own family following Trump’s disparagement of his daughter.

While Merchan has yet to render a decision on the district attorney’s motion to penalize Trump for alleged violations of the gag order, his sentiments were apparent. Merchan dismissed the explanations provided by Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, for the offending posts. Blanche contended that Trump’s posts concerning Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen were political rather than related to the case. However, Merchan grew frustrated when Blanche attempted to argue that Trump’s response to a Cohen post about Michael Avenatti was political due to its discussion of pardons.

Merchan also probed Blanche regarding Trump’s intentions, particularly when Blanche asserted that Trump’s reposts on Truth Social were not necessarily subject to the gag order.

“It’s your client’s position that when he reposts he did not believe he was violating the gag order. I’d like to hear that. Or you just want me to accept it because you’re saying it?” Merchan queried Blanche.

**Judge admonishes Trump lawyers**

Tensions escalated between Trump’s legal team and the trial judge during the gag order hearing. Merchan repeatedly pressed Blanche to specify instances where Trump specifically responded to attacks from Cohen and Daniels on social media, growing visibly frustrated when Blanche failed to do so.

“You’ve presented nothing,” Merchan admonished Blanche. “I’ve asked you eight or nine times [to] show me the exact post he was responding to. You’ve been unable to do that even once.”

At one point, Blanche asserted, “President Trump is being very careful to comply with your order.”

To which Merchan retorted, “You’re losing all credibility with the court.”

Last week, Merchan supported prosecutors’ decision to withhold notice of their witness list from Trump’s legal team, citing understanding in light of Trump’s social media attacks.

**Pecker sheds light on AMI’s role in 2016 campaign**

Pecker, who helmed American Media Inc. during the 2016 election, provided approximately two-and-a-half hours of testimony on Tuesday, elucidating how he collaborated with Michael Cohen to quash unfavorable stories during the campaign.

Pecker detailed the “catch and kill” deals involving McDougal and Trump’s doorman, disclosing a meeting in 2015 where Trump and Cohen solicited his assistance in managing negative stories.

While Pecker wasn’t directly involved in the $130,000 payment to Daniels, his testimony is pivotal to prosecutors’ case as it establishes a pattern of payments made to conceal damaging stories about Trump during the election.

Pecker underscored Cohen’s central role in the alleged “catch and kill conspiracy,” revealing that Cohen served as the intermediary between Trump and Pecker regarding media stories since 2007. Pecker recounted how Cohen would be informed about negative stories and would then facilitate their suppression.

Furthermore, Pecker revealed Cohen’s involvement in pitching stories about Trump’s political rivals during the campaign.

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House Passes Historic Foreign Aid Package Amidst GOP Infighting: Billions Allocated for Ukraine, Israel, and Global Allies

Lawmakers in the House, from both sides of the aisle, united on Saturday to advance a significant foreign aid package to the Senate, effectively ending a prolonged and contentious standoff over the destiny of the legislation and virtually ensuring the provision of billions of dollars in fresh assistance to beleaguered allies worldwide.

The exceptional weekend voting sessions marked the conclusion of months of intense deliberation within the House Republican caucus regarding whether and how Congress should intervene with further military assistance for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, while also extending humanitarian aid to civilian victims in conflict zones like Gaza and other war-ravaged regions globally.

The discourse had splintered House Republicans into opposing factions, setting Reagan-era traditionalists, proponents of robust international interventions to counter the ambitions of Russia and China, against a newer strain of “America First” conservatives advocating for curtailing foreign expenditure and redirecting focus to domestic issues, notably the migrant crisis along the southern border.

Ultimately, Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana defied his conservative detractors, bringing forth a series of four bills on the House floor to furnish overseas assistance. Notably, he disentangled these funds from a separate border security proposal that failed to garner support during Saturday’s proceedings. Johnson underscored the aid as a straightforward yet vital extension of America’s commitment to democratic allies facing threats from autocratic regimes.

“I think providing lethal aid to Ukraine right now is critically important,” Johnson emphasized earlier in the week. “I really do believe the intel and the briefings that we’ve gotten. I believe Xi and Vladimir Putin and Iran really are an axis of evil.”

Representative Mike McCaul of Texas revealed that Johnson sought divine guidance before making the pivotal decision to forge ahead. McCaul noted Johnson’s internal conflict between preserving his position and doing what he perceived as morally right, indicating Johnson’s reliance on prayer for clarity.

The passage of the foreign aid bills marked a significant triumph for the relatively inexperienced Speaker, who assumed leadership less than six months prior. The package, approved through four distinct votes, allocated approximately $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel, $8 billion for Indo-Pacific allies, and included additional national security measures such as a potential ban on TikTok.

However, the move carried political risks, exacerbating tensions among conservatives already discontented with Johnson’s bipartisan collaborations with President Biden on major legislation. This discontent manifested in a nascent effort to unseat Johnson, with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene spearheading a motion to vacate, backed by Representatives Thomas Massie and Paul Gosar.

While Johnson dismissed the threat, emphasizing the imperative of supporting Ukraine amid its struggle against Russia, some allies acknowledged the possibility of Greene’s motion materializing.

Yet, the conservative dissent extended beyond ideological differences. Some were concerned about escalating federal debt, others advocated for an isolationist stance akin to Trump’s priorities, and a faction harbored distrust towards Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, stemming from past political entanglements.

The migrant crisis also emerged as a pivotal point of contention, with Johnson initially demanding border security provisions alongside foreign aid, later abandoning this stance to focus solely on international assistance, a move met with incredulity by conservatives.

Despite Johnson’s efforts to mollify conservative objections by introducing amendments aligning with Republican national security interests, his strategy failed to garner full support within the GOP, with over half the conference voting against the Ukraine funding.

The Israel aid component further divided Democrats, reflecting internal disagreements over U.S. policy towards the Middle East. While the bill included significant humanitarian aid, some progressives opposed it for its perceived lack of conditions on assistance to Jerusalem, emphasizing the importance of enforcing human rights and international law.

Saturday’s passage marked the third attempt by Johnson to secure aid for Israel, following previous setbacks in November and February. Despite challenges, the aid package now advances to the Senate, expected to pass in the coming week.

Trump’s Historic Trial: Implications for 2024 Campaign & Beyond

The inaugural criminal trial of a sitting or former U.S. president is currently underway in Manhattan, sparking discussions on the potential ramifications of a conviction for former President Trump as he gears up for another White House bid.

In the New York trial, Trump faces 34 felony charges of falsifying business records, with potential implications for his 2024 presidential campaign. Although a conviction wouldn’t automatically disqualify him from running, it could disrupt his candidacy and introduce the possibility of a convicted felon as the GOP nominee.

Stephen Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University, highlighted the significance of a potential conviction, stating, “If he happens to be convicted on 34 counts, that takes its toll even on someone like Donald Trump, who seems to be that Teflon candidate.”

The trial commenced this week in Manhattan, with jury selection marking a historic moment as the first of Trump’s four criminal cases to reach a jury. The case revolves around events during the 2016 election, particularly a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actress, to suppress her allegations of a past encounter with Trump. Trump, denying the affair, reimbursed Cohen, categorizing it as a legal expense, a move contested by the Manhattan district attorney as unlawful.

Despite the legal proceedings, Trump, having secured the delegates for the Republican nomination, retains the ability to run for federal office even if convicted. He continues to frame his legal troubles as politically motivated, asserting his innocence.

Saltzburg remarked on Trump’s unique position, noting, “He’s the only person in America who could probably be charged in four different cases and have his popularity among his base go up, because the base is already convinced that he’s affected, that he’s being targeted.”

However, a conviction would label him a felon, potentially alienating key voter demographics such as independents and law-and-order Republicans.

The sentiment is echoed in recent polls, including a Yahoo News/YouGov poll indicating that a majority of voters, including Republicans, consider the hush money case a serious offense. Another poll by Bloomberg and Morning Consult found a significant portion of swing state voters unwilling to support Trump if convicted.

Republican strategist Matthew Bartlett highlighted the clash between courtroom trials and the campaign trail, emphasizing the polarization of opinions regarding Trump’s legal issues.

The hush money case, among the four criminal indictments against Trump, stands out for its potential impact on his political future. Apart from this case, Trump faces federal charges related to mishandling classified materials post-presidency and allegations of attempting to subvert the 2020 election in Georgia.

Furthermore, a conviction could impede Trump’s ability to cast a ballot in Florida for the 2024 election, presenting a paradoxical situation for the former president.

With the trial expected to run for several weeks, Trump’s campaign must adapt to the scheduling constraints, relying on weekend events, virtual engagements, and media coverage to maintain momentum.

While Trump navigates legal challenges, President Biden must leverage the situation strategically, balancing engagement with the campaign while addressing accusations of political bias.

An acquittal in New York could strengthen Trump’s position, potentially influencing perceptions of his other legal battles and boosting his chances in the upcoming election.

However, the timeline for the trial’s conclusion remains uncertain, with potential delays and complications along the way. Democrats are hopeful that prolonged legal proceedings will deflate Trump’s campaign, allowing Biden to consolidate support.

Despite the possibility of a conviction, experts suggest that prison time is improbable in this case. Regardless, a conviction would pose significant hurdles for Trump’s political aspirations, although it wouldn’t necessarily preclude him from seeking office.

Reflecting on the unprecedented nature of the situation, experts underscore the gravity of the charges against Trump, all intertwined with his tenure as a politician. Will Thomas, a professor at the University of Michigan, remarked on the extraordinary circumstances, emphasizing the historical significance of a former president facing multiple criminal indictments.

The ongoing trial in Manhattan carries profound implications for Trump’s political future, shaping public perception and potentially altering the course of the 2024 presidential race.

Trump’s Vice Presidential Pick: A Golden Ticket to GOP’s 2028 Presidential Race

Former President Trump’s choice for his running mate in the upcoming November election holds immense significance, potentially serving as a gateway to the GOP’s presidential candidacy in 2028. Unlike traditional scenarios where a vice president would typically wait eight years before pursuing the presidential nomination, Trump’s selection could instantly elevate the chosen candidate as a frontrunner for the GOP nomination in just four years. This unique circumstance underscores the exceptional weight of Trump’s decision this year.

Alex Conant, a figure from Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign, emphasizes the significance, stating, “To the extent that whoever he picks as vice president could be the presumptive front-runner four years from now, it’s a bigger deal than normal.” This potential nominee not only carries the prospect of assuming the presidency but also inheriting the mantle of the MAGA movement that has reshaped the Republican Party under Trump’s leadership.

While loyalty remains a paramount criterion for Trump in selecting his running mate, the contenders vying for his favor are acutely aware of the extraordinary opportunity this decision presents. Younger Republicans, in particular, perceive this as a chance not just for the vice presidency but as a strategic move towards positioning themselves for the 2028 presidential race.

Among those under consideration is Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who, despite being 58 years old, is viewed favorably due to his strong fundraising abilities and compelling personal narrative as the sole Black Republican in the Senate. Senator JD Vance, another potential contender at 39, has also garnered attention as a staunch Trump ally, although he hasn’t directly discussed the possibility with Trump himself.

Other names circulating as potential future faces of the party include Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, aged 45; Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, aged 39; Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aged 41; and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, aged 51.

While speculation about the impact on the 2028 race looms large, insiders caution against overestimating its influence on Trump’s decision-making process. Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor, underscores Trump’s prioritization of loyalty over electoral considerations, suggesting that Trump’s choice will primarily reflect on his own image rather than future electoral strategies.

The details of Trump’s vice presidential search remain largely undisclosed, with periodic mentions of candidates on his “short list.” Similar to his approach in 2016, Trump is likely to delay the announcement until closer to the Republican National Convention in July, utilizing the suspense to his advantage for fundraising and media attention.

The anticipation surrounding Trump’s pick echoes the strategic maneuvering seen in the 2020 Democratic cycle, where then-candidate Joe Biden positioned himself as a bridge to the next generation of leaders. However, while Biden’s eventual vice presidential pick, Kamala Harris, was initially seen as a potential frontrunner for 2024, uncertainties have since arisen regarding her presidential prospects.

For Republicans vying for Trump’s endorsement, the stakes are high, offering a potential fast track to the presidential nomination if Trump secures victory in November. However, there’s also a cautionary tale in the fate of former Vice President Mike Pence, whose fallout with Trump over the election results damaged his standing within the party.

As the Republican contenders jockey for position on this year’s ticket, they tread a delicate balance between ambition and loyalty, hoping to avoid the pitfalls that befell Pence in his post-Trump political journey.

Trump Leads Biden In Latest National Poll

Former President Trump is leading President Biden among potential voters in the upcoming presidential election, an Emerson College Polling national survey released Thursday found, with Biden’s polling rate dropping since early April.

Trump leads Biden 46 percent to 43 percent, according to the poll. Support for Biden dropped 2 percentage points since the previous Emerson College poll in early April, while Trump’s polling stayed at 46 percent.

Another 12 percent reported being undecided, according to Thursday’s results. When undecided voters were pressed to pick a candidate, Trump’s support rose to 51 percent, while Biden’s climbed to 48 percent.

When independent candidates were thrown into the mix, support for Trump dropped to 44 percent and 40 percent for Biden. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. received 8 percent of support, another 8 percent reported being undecided, and 1 percent supported Cornel West.

Among issues that voters cited as most critical in forming their opinion of each candidate were the economy and immigration. When asked about specific economic issues, 70 percent said they think the cost of living is rising, and that 70 percent was more likely to support Trump over Biden, the survey found.

“Voters who think the cost of living is rising support Trump over Biden, 56% to 32%,” said Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling. “Those who feel the cost of living is easing or staying the same support Biden over Trump, 94% to 6% and 67% to 18%”

The Israel-Hamas war also came up as a point of contention among the polled voters, with a plurality of voters, 44, percent, saying they feel they’re not getting the full picture when it comes to the war.

“Perceptions of receiving accurate war information show a significant split,” Kimball said. “Biden leads among those who think they are getting accurate information (53% to 36%), while Trump leads among skeptics (53% to 38%). Those unsure are divided, with 44% leaning toward Trump and 42% toward Biden.”

The Emerson College Polling survey was conducted April 16-17 among 1,308 registered voters and has a 2.6 percent margin of error.

Will Robert F. Kennedy Be A Spoiler In The Presidential Race?

The 2024 presidential race will almost certainly be very close, especially in the few swing states that could decide the Electoral College vote. Hence, a great deal of attention has been paid to the question of “spoilers”—third party or independent candidates who could pull enough votes from President Joe Biden or former President Donald Trump to keep one of them from winning an important state.

Now that No Labels has decided not to run a presidential candidate, there are three third-party campaigns going on—one by Cornell West, an African American former Harvard professor who is running as an independent, and another by Jill Stein, who ran as the candidate of the Green Party in 2012 and 2016. And finally, the one getting the most attention, and according to polls the most support, is an independent run by environmentalist and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., nephew of former President John Kennedy.

For any of these candidates to actually win, they need to first qualify for the ballot in at least enough states to account for 270 electoral votes. That is highly unlikely given the difficulty of getting on ballots in the first place. But for any of these candidates to be a spoiler, they need only get on the ballot in a few swing states. Remember that in Arizona and Georgia in 2020, Biden won by .3% of the vote. When races are that close, third-party candidates can become spoilers.

Of the three most talked about “spoilers,” Jill Stein has the best chance of getting on a large number of state ballots. She is substantially ahead in the delegate count for the Green Party’s virtual convention in July and likely to be the nominee. Because the Green Party has been around since 1984, they have state party organizations, and they have run candidates for office.

1 Even though they don’t have very many winning candidates, they have enough of an infrastructure that as of this writing they claim to be on the ballot in 20 states, and they are running active campaigns in others. In the 2000 presidential race between former Vice President Al Gore and Governor George W. Bush, consumer advocate Ralph Nader was the Green Party candidate on the ballot in Florida. Bush’s lead was less than one percent of the vote. If you assume many of Nader’s voters would have voted for Al Gore, his 1.6% of the vote would have been more than enough to put the state into Gore’s column.

The other “spoiler” candidate, Cornel West, is underfunded and without an institutional infrastructure behind him. So far, he has secured ballot access in only three states: Oregon, South Carolina, and Utah. While many people worry that he could pull votes from Biden in big cities with Black populations in key swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, he does not appear, at least yet, to have caught on enough in any swing states to become a spoiler.

Unlike Stein and West, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appears to be closer to becoming a spoiler. Conventional wisdom has that because of his famous name and his environmental work, he will take votes from Biden. However, his anti-vax campaign and his attraction to conspiracy theories have led some to argue that he is also a threat to Trump. So how is Kennedy doing on ballot access? In some states, qualifying for the ballot as a party is easier (fewer signatures) than qualifying for the ballot as a candidate only.

2 Therefore, Kennedy’s strategy has been to create a political party called “We the People” for which he will be the nominee and use it for ballot access in five states—California, Delaware, Hawaii, Mississippi, and North Carolina. Although he is doing better in the polls than all the other third-party candidates, he seems unlikely to be a spoiler in the three heavily Democratic states of California, Delaware, and Hawaii. Nor does he seem likely to be a spoiler in the heavily Republican state of Mississippi.

But North Carolina is a state that Democrats have won in the past and is likely to be very close. There, a Kennedy candidacy could keep Biden from a win. The most recent Quinnipiac poll showed Trump leading by two points in the two-way race in North Carolina and by three points in the five-way, with RFK Jr. getting double-digit support.

Table 1 shows the differences between filing as an independent and filing as part of an organized party establishment in some states.

As Table 2 illustrates we will not know the exact composition of the presidential ballots until sometime this summer. However, Table #2 shows where Kennedy has been successful so far. They claim to have achieved ballot access in — Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Iowa, and Utah—although Utah is the only state that has confirmed access. In the others, there is either legal or legislative activity around the question of Kennedy’s ballot access. Note that in the eight states where the Kennedy campaign claims to have achieved ballot access, the total is only 51 electoral college votes.

And, in addition to North Carolina, the only other state in this group that is a swing state is New Hampshire. Nonetheless, if Kennedy costs Biden New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes and North Carolina’s 16 electoral college votes, these two states could decide the election. In July, the filing deadlines will pass for Michigan.

In August, the filing deadlines will pass for Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Every time Kennedy gets on a ballot in a swing state, he comes closer and closer to becoming a spoiler in 2024, and so far, his organization has shown the ability to raise money and meet filing deadlines. No wonder the DNC has begun a campaign to educate voters on Kennedy as a ‘stalking horse” for Trump. And the Biden campaign has chosen to publicize the rest of the Kennedy family’s allegiance to him and the Democratic Party.

President Biden Returns to Scranton Roots, Advocates Tax Fairness in Pennsylvania Campaign Tour

President Joe Biden embarked on a sentimental journey back to his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, initiating a three-day campaign tour across the state by advocating for increased taxes on the affluent and depicting Donald Trump as disconnected from the realities of working-class America.

During his visit, Biden balanced his efforts to counter the populist allure of his Republican predecessor with moments of reflection on his past. He lingered at his former residence, where the stars and stripes fluttered gently on the porch while neighbors gathered beneath blossoming trees and a serene sky. In the backyard, he shared moments with local children, some clad in school uniforms, capturing photographs to commemorate the occasion.

Seeking to bolster his standing in a crucial swing state, Biden began his journey in Scranton, a city deeply intertwined with his political narrative. Against the backdrop of Scranton’s 75,000 residents, the president aimed to shift the dialogue surrounding the economy, which has left many Americans disenchanted amid persistent inflation and high interest rates despite low unemployment rates.

Expressing his desire for a fairer tax system that leaves more money in the pockets of ordinary Americans, Biden contrasted the perspectives of his hometown with the opulent Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where Trump resides. He emphasized his proposal for a 25% minimum tax rate for billionaires, framing taxes as investments in the nation’s future.

“Scranton values or Mar-a-Lago values,” Biden remarked, highlighting the competing economic visions in the upcoming election. He criticized decades of Republican policies that favored tax cuts for the wealthy, labeling them as detrimental to the nation’s prosperity, with Trump emblematic of this failed approach. He humorously remarked on the declining fortunes of Trump’s social media venture, Truth Social, suggesting it might fare better under his proposed tax plan.

Amidst Biden’s address, he condemned Trump’s alleged disparagement of fallen veterans as “suckers and losers,” labeling such remarks as disqualifying for presidential leadership. Later, addressing grassroots organizers at a union hall, Biden stressed the importance of traditional political engagement, emphasizing the necessity of door-to-door outreach.

Throughout his itinerary, Biden’s roots in Scranton were celebrated, with enthusiastic crowds lining the streets to greet his motorcade. Instances of opposition, mainly concerning Biden’s stance on Israel’s military actions in Gaza, were limited.

Reflecting on Biden’s ties to Scranton, local officials praised his enduring connection to the community, portraying him as a leader who remains mindful of his upbringing. As Biden took the stage at the community center, chants of “four more years” reverberated through the crowd, prompting the president to jest about returning home, indicating that he was already there.

Scranton, described by political analyst Christopher Borick as a symbol in American politics, serves as a litmus test for Biden’s electoral appeal. While it aligns with the populist wave of the Republican Party, Biden secured victory in the city and surrounding areas in 2020. Repeating this success in 2024, coupled with minimizing Trump’s margins in rural areas, could pave the way for another triumph in Pennsylvania.

Acknowledging the rising cost of living under Biden’s administration, Republican representatives expressed skepticism about the efficacy of scripted appearances in addressing economic concerns. Trump’s tax cuts in 2017, skewed in favor of the wealthy, are set to expire in 2025, prompting Biden’s push for their extension alongside plans to generate $4.9 trillion in revenue over a decade through higher taxes on the affluent and corporations, including a proposed “billionaire’s tax.”

Biden’s campaign in Pennsylvania coincides with the commencement of Trump’s inaugural criminal trial, presenting both opportunities and challenges for Democrats. While Biden’s team views the contrast between Trump’s legal entanglements and his focus on economic issues favorably, the trial’s potential to monopolize national attention poses a complication.

Despite the backdrop of Trump’s legal woes, Biden refrained from direct mention, opting instead to emphasize the values instilled in him during his upbringing in Scranton, where wealth does not determine one’s worth.

Twitter’s Move Against Manipulated Media: A Step Towards Accountability

In a notable turn of events, Twitter took action against Amit Malviya, the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s IT cell, by tagging one of his tweets as ‘manipulated media’. This marks a significant departure as it’s the first instance of Twitter applying restrictive measures against a prominent Indian political figure.

This move comes in the wake of Twitter’s recent policy adjustments aimed at curbing the dissemination of misinformation on its platform. One of the key changes introduced by Twitter is its heightened vigilance towards manipulated media, a policy that was initially outlined in November 2019.

The genesis of this policy can be traced back to Twitter’s recognition of the need to address a broader spectrum of deceptive media practices compared to its counterparts like Facebook. While Facebook primarily focused on combatting deepfakes—videos synthesized from scratch—Twitter’s approach was more encompassing. It took into account user feedback indicating a preference for contextualization over outright removal of manipulated media.

The precedent for such actions was set when Twitter flagged a video posted by then-US President Donald Trump in June 2020. Trump’s tweet featured a clip portraying two toddlers of different races hugging, with a CNN-like chyron falsely insinuating racism. This manipulation was promptly identified by journalists, who clarified that the original story was about the friendship between the children.

In contrast, the tweet by Malviya didn’t involve doctored media but rather an edited clip designed to distort reality. The edited footage, in response to a widely circulated image showing a policeman seemingly striking an elderly farmer during protests, was used by Malviya to propagate a narrative suggesting that the baton didn’t actually make contact with the farmer. Moreover, Malviya dismissed accusations of government violence against peaceful protesters as opposition propaganda.

However, a closer examination of the events, as elucidated by an Alt News article, reveals instances of police resorting to lathi charges against farmers, who retaliated with stone-pelting. Various news outlets reporting from the scene corroborated this, depicting scenes of violent police action in response to farmers breaking blockades.

Twitter’s decision to flag Malviya’s tweet as ‘manipulated media’ hinges on its policy’s emphasis on preventing deceptive usage of media content. The platform’s Synthetic and Manipulated Media policy stipulates that sharing media in a manner intended to mislead or deceive, thereby fostering confusion or misunderstanding, warrants intervention.

While Twitter’s efforts to hold political leaders accountable for misleading content have garnered praise, questions linger regarding the consistency of its application. Internationally, the last instance of Twitter invoking its ‘synthesized or manipulated media’ clause against political figures dates back to September 2019, when it restricted tweets from journalists and government accounts in Cuba following President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s address regarding an energy crisis exacerbated by US sanctions. This move drew criticism, with concerns raised over potential censorship and selective enforcement of platform manipulation policies.

In the Indian context, despite evidence suggesting widespread misuse of social media for propagating misinformation, Twitter’s response has been perceived as inadequate. Reports indicate the existence of thousands of fake accounts amplifying fake news, particularly associated with major political parties like the BJP and Congress. Despite such findings, Twitter has yet to take decisive action comparable to its response in other regions.

Furthermore, Twitter’s compliance with government directives, such as the removal of tweets critical of the Indian government in Kashmir and the withholding of Kashmiri accounts in India, has sparked controversy. Critics argue that such actions raise questions about Twitter’s commitment to free expression and its impartiality in addressing sensitive geopolitical issues.

Moreover, Twitter has faced criticism for its perceived inaction against instances of online abuse, particularly those rooted in misogyny and casteism. This perceived bias has prompted some users to explore alternative platforms like Mastodon in protest.

Twitter’s move to flag Amit Malviya’s tweet as ‘manipulated media’ signifies a step towards holding political figures accountable for deceptive content. However, questions persist regarding the platform’s consistency in enforcing such policies, especially in contexts like India where the spread of misinformation is a pressing concern.

Nikki Haley Assumes Leadership Role at Hudson Institute Amid Presidential Speculation

Nikki Haley Joins Hudson Institute as Chair, Eyes Presidential Run

The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., revealed on April 15th that Nikki Haley, former GOP presidential contender, will be taking on the Walter P. Stern chair. This move sees the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor become the fourth member of Trump’s cabinet to do so, as reported by The Guardian.

Expressing her thoughts on the significance of robust partnerships and the necessity of identifying adversaries, Haley underscored the crucial role of Hudson’s mission. She stated, “They believe that to secure a safe, free, and prosperous future for all Americans, citizens must be informed, and policymakers must be equipped with solutions. I am thrilled to collaborate with them in safeguarding the values that have distinguished the United States as the premier nation on Earth.”

Haley’s new position allows her to maintain a prominent presence while contemplating a potential second bid for the presidency in 2028, according to The Hill.

John P. Walters, President and CEO of Hudson, lauded Haley as “a proven, capable leader in both domestic and foreign affairs.” He commended her for remaining resolute in defending freedom and advocating for American security and prosperity amid global political turbulence.

Despite securing victories in Vermont and the District of Columbia, Haley opted to suspend her presidential campaign in March following a substantial defeat in the Super Tuesday primaries. Throughout her campaign, she positioned herself as the prime candidate to steer away from the policies of the previous administration. Haley’s campaign strategy in its final weeks involved intense criticism of both Trump and Biden, highlighting their age and urging the emergence of a new generation of leaders. Notably, polls suggested that in hypothetical matchups against Biden, she outperformed other leading Republican contenders.

Haley directed sharp criticism towards Vice President Kamala Harris, asserting to the people of South Carolina that one of them—either herself or Harris—would soon occupy the presidency. She consistently targeted Trump during her campaign, particularly criticizing his foreign policy stances and the escalating national debt, stressing that “Chaos follows Trump” on two occasions.

Nevertheless, as noted by NPR, Haley encountered challenges in maintaining a coherent message, balancing the need to appeal to the Republican base while also attracting independents, moderate Republicans, and disenchanted Trump voters. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, she stumbled by not explicitly mentioning slavery as the cause of the Civil War, though she promptly corrected her error.

Similarly, Haley faced scrutiny over her response to a controversial ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court that threatened access to in vitro fertilization (IVF). She asserted that “Embryos are babies,” in an interview with Ali Vitali of NBC, but later clarified her stance, emphasizing the importance of preserving fertility treatments for women during an interview with Newsman.

Although Haley gained momentum towards the end of last year, surpassing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in several polls, she ultimately fell short of overtaking the former president, who remains the presumptive Republican nominee for the presidency.

AARC-Asian American Republican Coalition Supports Trump’s Election Bid As The 47th President Of United States

AARC has announced to extend its full support to President Donald J. Trump to win elections as the 47th President of United States, at its Press conference recently held at ITV Gold Auditorium, Edison, NJ. Press Conference was addressed by Hemant Bhatt, AARC- Founder and Chairman, Sridhar Chillara, AARC- National President and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, AARC- National Advisor and Chairman, Parikh Worldwide Media. It was emced by Sanjiv Pandya, Vice- Chair, AARC Public Relations and one of the founding members of AARC.

AARC DJT PC 2This Press conference begun by singing American National Anthem by Mathy Pillai, a renowned singer and pledge of Allegiance by Rima.

Mr. Bhatt in his speech spoke of bringing the community from regions of US to the Republican fold. He said that America has been going through a number of crisis and today’s America is not what we used to see earlier. There are darkened clouds all over. He referred the sense of fear for safety amongst residents, rising prices, cost of living increase, high inflation and ‘America has no border’. Legal and merit-based immigration is the only way America is meant for. Illegal immigration would hurt America big time. He further stated that life in America was much different even just four years ago during the Trump Administration, when there was safety, security, stock markets were booming, retirement accounts were rich in value and America was considered as world leader. President Trump visited North Korea, he was able to take on China and there would not have been any Ukraine- Russia war, Hamas Israel war and the world would not have been on fire as it is today. For these AARC DJT PC 3reasons, AARC announced its full support to President Trump to win Presidential elections on November 05, 2024.

Mr. Chillara said the voting patterns showed how even a small percentage of population like Asians, Indian Americans could influence the outcome of results of elections which are lost by very small margins. Asian Americans, Indian Americans and some minorities can change the results of elections and we could send our Republican candidates to White House, Senate and Congress. Asian Americans make about more than 25 Million. Why can’t we come together? Such power we have. In order to make it happen, large percentage of Asians have to be convinced about Republican party and educated about the values it represents, and have to go to polls and vote for Republican candidates.

Dr. Parikh recounted his lifelong support and engagement with the Republican party over many decades especially since 1992 the administration of President George H.W. Bush, when he and few Indian Americans republican raised $ 4 Million for the campaign. This was our community was very small and not doing very well at that time. He further mentioned that his 50 years of observation the Republican party is more pro India than the Democratic party and it is proven that Donald J. Trump would be pro India and that is good for the motherland and for us.

AARC DJT PC 1Several Asian Indian American Republicans encouraged and appealed the community to come forward in support of President Donald J Trump’s candidacy.

AARC’s NJ President Dharmesh Patel, Women wing President Tarang Soni, AARC- PA President Yagnesh Chokshi, Community leader Dr. Avinash Gupta, Sunil Hali ji, Nimish Patel, Neil Shah, Ashish Raval, Peter Carota, Dilip Bhatt, Raj Bansal, Manisha Bhatt, Inder Soni, Nayna Bhatt, Pawanji, Michael, Vijay Shah, Pankaj Parikh, Parth Patel, Ajay Shah and many prominent persons were present at this wonderful event.

A Q & A session followed the speeches.

 

AARC DJT PC 4

Truth Social Shares Plummet, Trump’s Stake Loses Billions in Value

Shares of Truth Social, the social media platform launched by former President Trump’s company, Trump Media & Technology Group, have experienced a significant downturn in the past couple of weeks following its initial surge.

According to recent reports, the company’s shares plunged by 8% on Monday, following a 12% drop on Friday. This downward trend has pushed the stock to its lowest level since its trading debut on March 26, indicating a volatile market performance with notable fluctuations.

This decline has had a substantial impact on the value of Trump’s stake in the company. As the majority stakeholder, Trump saw the value of his shares plummet from a peak of over $6 billion during the trading debut to approximately $2.9 billion as of Monday.

Despite this significant valuation, analysts have raised concerns regarding the company’s financial standing. Trump Media & Technology Group reported a loss of $58 million in the previous year, coupled with a modest revenue of just over $4 million. Such figures have prompted skepticism about the inflated value attributed to Trump’s stake.

Moreover, Trump’s ability to offload his shares is restricted until September under the current agreement. However, he retains the option to request permission from the board of Trump Media to divest some of his stake ahead of schedule. Notably, the board comprises individuals with close ties to Trump, including his son, Donald J. Trump Jr., and former administration officials.

Despite warnings from analysts about the detachment of the company’s stock value from its actual financial performance, support for Truth Social persists among individual investors. Many of these investors are believed to be ardent supporters of Trump, contributing to the sustained trading activity of the company’s shares.

Political Earthquake: Biden and Trump Neck-and-Neck as Voter Demographics Shift

A seismic event rocked the Northeast last Friday, as a 4.8 magnitude earthquake jolted the region. Yet, beneath the surface, there are signs of political tremors brewing.

According to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, President Biden and former President Donald Trump find themselves in a statistical dead heat, with Biden holding a slight 2-point advantage at 50% to Trump’s 48%.

The proximity of the race between these two well-known figures might suggest a locked-in voter base, given their previous showdown. However, the survey reveals that approximately 40% of respondents remain open to changing their allegiance.

Moreover, shifts are occurring within key demographic groups. Young voters, Latinos, and independents are either wavering in their support for Biden or remain undecided. Conversely, there’s a noticeable sway towards Biden among older voters and college-educated white voters, particularly men.

These demographic shifts could potentially reshape the electoral map. Democrats are eyeing gains in Sun Belt states like Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Mexico, where growing diversity and fewer blue-collar white voters offer opportunities. Meanwhile, Republicans may strengthen their hold in parts of the industrial Midwest.

Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, remarks on the significance of these trends, noting, “We’re in the beginnings of a seismic shift in the nature of our parties…where does that end up and where are we in 10 years with these trends?”

Analyzing data from Marist’s survey alongside 2020 exit polls, notable shifts emerge within various demographic groups:

– College-educated white men: Biden leads by 21 points in 2024 compared to Trump’s 3-point lead in 2020, marking a significant shift in Biden’s favor.

– College-educated white voters overall: Biden holds a 24-point lead in 2024, compared to his 3-point lead in 2020.

– College-educated white women: Biden leads by 28 points in 2024, compared to his 9-point lead in 2020.

– Over 45: Biden leads by 6 points in 2024, reversing Trump’s 3-point lead in 2020.

– Under 45: Trump holds a 1-point lead in 2024, a significant shift from Biden’s 14-point lead in 2020.

– Independents: Trump leads by 7 points in 2024, a reversal from Biden’s 13-point lead in 2020.

– Nonwhite: Biden leads by 11 points in 2024, a substantial decrease from his 45-point lead in 2020.

The trend of college-educated white voters gravitating towards the Democratic Party continues. Trump’s 2016 victory largely relied on white voters without college degrees, but Biden’s appeal among educated white voters remains strong.

The survey highlights the salience of immigration and racial issues in GOP politics, with a significant majority of Republicans favoring the deportation of migrants and expressing concerns about perceived discrimination against white Americans.

Despite Biden’s current lead in the polls, there’s a need for a broader margin to secure an Electoral College victory, as emphasized by Miringoff.

However, Biden faces challenges in retaining key groups that supported him in 2020. Independents and young voters have expressed disapproval of his administration’s performance, particularly regarding his handling of the Gaza conflict.

Furthermore, support among nonwhite voters, especially Latinos and young Black voters, has waned. In the survey, 56% of Latinos disapprove of Biden’s performance, while younger Black voters show a significant divide from older counterparts.

The emergence of third-party candidates, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., poses additional challenges. Kennedy attracts 11% support in the poll, drawing from disenchanted voters across demographics.

The Biden campaign acknowledges the importance of swaying undecided voters away from third-party options, viewing a second Trump presidency as a pressing concern. However, regaining support, particularly among young voters and Latinos, remains an uphill battle, with lingering discontent over Biden’s policies.

While the campaign seeks to leverage its financial resources through organized efforts and TV ads, the shifting dynamics among voters, particularly within white, college-educated demographics, could potentially offset the need for replicating 2020 support levels among young people and Latinos.

Speculation Abounds as Former President Trump Considers Running Mate: Does It Really Matter?

Speculation abounds regarding the potential selection of a running mate by former President Trump. The question looms: does this choice hold significant sway? Given Trump’s extraordinary polarizing nature, the impact of his running mate on shifting voters’ opinions is likely minimal. Trump’s dominant persona tends to overshadow anyone sharing the ticket with him.

Nonetheless, Trump is certain to exploit the search for a vice presidential candidate for its publicity and suspense. In a statement to Fox News’s Martha MacCallum in January, Trump hinted at having a pick in mind but refrained from disclosing further details. According to Politico, Trump’s staff members are actively vetting potential candidates as he discusses a wide array of names in private.

Despite these maneuvers, the peculiar dynamics of the 2024 political landscape remain unchanged. For the first time in roughly 130 years, a major party is poised to nominate a previously defeated ex-president.

Statistics regarding Trump’s favorability underscore the skepticism surrounding the potential impact of his choice of running mate. According to an Economist/YouGov poll, a mere 3 percent of Americans express no opinion on Trump. The overwhelming majority either hold very favorable or very unfavorable views, leaving little room for significant shifts in opinion based on his vice presidential choice.

Longtime Florida GOP operative John “Mac” Stipanovich echoed this sentiment, stating, “My hot take is that it doesn’t matter… Every mother’s son and daughter already has an opinion about Donald Trump and will vote accordingly.” Stipanovich’s stance reflects the entrenched positions of both supporters and detractors of the former president.

Despite such skepticism, speculation persists regarding potential candidates for Trump’s running mate and the eagerness with which some individuals seek the position. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has emerged as a staunch Trump supporter, even after his own bid for the GOP nomination earlier this year. Similarly, Senator JD Vance of Ohio and Representative Elise Stefanik of New York have undergone notable transformations from former critics to fervent supporters of Trump.

Stefanik is among several women reportedly under consideration for the role, along with Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota and former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, now Governor of Arkansas. However, more controversial figures such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, former Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, and Kari Lake, a former TV anchor from Arizona, also feature in discussions, albeit as long-shot contenders.

Speculation abounds regarding whether selecting a female running mate could bolster Trump’s support among suburban women, a demographic with whom he has historically struggled. However, this notion is met with skepticism due to concerns about potential alienation of voters and the overriding influence of substantive issues like abortion.

In the 2016 election, Mike Pence was chosen, in part, to reassure evangelical voters—a demographic that appears firmly in Trump’s camp today. Consequently, the necessity for such reassurance may be diminished.

While some insiders argue for the significance of selecting an effective campaigner as a running mate, particularly in terms of amplifying the campaign’s message and responding to attacks, others emphasize the potential advantages of choosing a candidate from a battleground state.

However, few of the individuals frequently mentioned as potential running mates for Trump hail from true battlegrounds. The exception is Kari Lake, though her previous electoral defeat in Arizona casts doubt on her potential to sway the state in Trump’s favor.

Despite ongoing speculation, Democrats dismiss the significance of Trump’s choice of running mate, attributing any potential electoral outcomes primarily to Trump himself. Democratic commentator Bakari Sellers asserted, “It’s Trump who prevents a better image.”

As the veepstakes chatter persists, Trump is likely to prolong the suspense surrounding his potential pick. Nevertheless, it remains doubtful whether any candidate could significantly alter the course of the race.

Battle for Battlegrounds: Biden and Trump Vie for Key States in Tight Election Race

The rivalry intensifies between President Biden and former President Trump as they gear up for the general election campaign for the White House.

Biden and Trump both clinched their party nominations last month, but the road ahead promises to be challenging as they square off in a rematch of the 2020 race. With the election poised to be closely contested, the outcome hinges on a handful of battleground states.

Biden secured most of these crucial states during his victory four years ago. However, recent polls indicate Trump leading in these battlegrounds.

Arizona:

In 2020, Biden flipped Arizona, a historic win as the state hadn’t favored a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996. This year, with 11 electoral votes up for grabs, the state remains a pivotal battleground, particularly given concerns over immigration. Trump maintains a lead in polls, posing a challenge for Biden to retain the state, especially with a potential rightward shift among Hispanic voters.

Georgia:

Similarly, Biden’s victory in Georgia in 2020 marked a significant win, breaking a decades-long Republican stronghold. However, recent polls show Trump ahead, albeit with narrow margins. Biden’s challenge lies in rallying Black voters, a crucial demographic that played a pivotal role in his previous win.

Michigan:

Michigan, part of the Democratic stronghold in the Midwest, saw Biden win by a slim margin in 2020. However, Trump now leads in polls, complicating Biden’s path to victory. Biden faces challenges in winning over union workers and Arab American voters, particularly due to concerns over inflation and foreign policy.

Nevada:

Nevada, traditionally Democratic-leaning, has been a closely contested state in recent elections. Trump leads in polls, albeit marginally. Biden’s support among Latino voters will be crucial in maintaining the state in his favor.

North Carolina:

Despite Democratic efforts, North Carolina has remained elusive, with Trump leading in recent polls. Biden’s campaign focuses on narrowing the gap, particularly by targeting Black and Latino populations.

Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes make it a crucial battleground. While Trump won the state narrowly in 2016, Biden reclaimed it in 2020. Recent polls indicate a close race, with neither candidate holding a significant lead.

Wisconsin:

Biden’s narrow win in Wisconsin in 2020 underscores its importance in the battleground landscape. Trump leads in polls, albeit marginally. However, Biden remains optimistic, considering Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as sources of hope.

As the candidates gear up for the election, the battle for these key battleground states intensifies, setting the stage for a closely watched showdown between Biden and Trump.

How Voters Feel About The US Economy: 4 Takeaways From The Latest Polls

As the 2024 general election begins in earnest, voters’ assessment of the economy and of the candidates’ ability to manage it will, as usual, have a strong impact on the outcome of the race. With little more than seven months until Election Day, the economy remains a key advantage for former President Donald Trump, and a drag on President Biden’s reelection prospects. Here are four takeaways from recent survey research on this topic:

Inflation and high prices remain the electorate’s top concern and dominate voters’ assessment of the economy. In a just-released Economist/YouGov survey, 22% of voters identify inflation/prices as their most important issue, compared to only seven percent who cite jobs and the economy. According to a Data for Progress analysis, 68% of those who put inflation and prices first named the cost of food as their principal concern, followed by housing (17%), utilities (eight percent), and gas (three percent).

Despite some modest recent improvement, voters’ sentiments about the economy remain negative. A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) survey found 31% of voters endorse the proposition that the economy has improved over the past two years, up by 10 percentage points since December. In another sign of progress, a New York Times (NYT) survey from early March found that 26% regard economic conditions as excellent or good, up from 20% since last July.

Still, 74% of the NYT respondents regard the economy as only fair (23%) or poor (51%). And as an analysis of the WSJ data shows, inflation is still the main reason why economic sentiment remains depressed. More than two-thirds of voters say that inflation is headed in the wrong direction, and nearly three-quarters say that price increases are exceeding gains in household income. This helps explain why only 24% of voters expect the economy to get better over the next 12 months.

The Economist/YouGov survey helps us understand how key subgroups of the electorate are feeling about the economy. Only 22% of Black Americans, 13% of Hispanics, and 18% of young adults believe that they are better off financially today than they were a year ago.

(The figure for the electorate as a whole is a rock-bottom 15%.) And during a period in which party affiliation has a much greater effect on economic evaluations than it did two decades ago, only 26% of Democrats say that their economic circumstances have improved over the past year. Just 19% of Black Americans, 14% of Hispanics, 12% of young adults, and 21% of the full electorate believe that economic conditions are getting better, while an outright majority of voters (52%) say that things are getting worse.

President Biden continues to get low marks for his handling of inflation. Overall, only 35% of voters approve of his handling of this issue. Among Hispanics, just 34% approve; for young adults, 28%; among lower-income voters, 29%.

When it comes to the economy, Donald Trump enjoys a clear edge over Biden. According to a CBS News poll released in early March, 65% of voters rate the economy as good during Trump’s presidency, compared to 38% under Biden. Only 17% believe that Biden’s policies will make prices go down, compared to 44% for Trump. Consistent with these findings, 55% think that Trump would do a better job of dealing with the economy, compared to 33% who think that Biden would.1

These recent polls are a snapshot, not a forecast. Much can change between now and Election Day, as it has in the past. In 2012, for example, President Obama faced negative economic ratings and low consumer confidence early on. But as the year went on, voters’ sentiments improved, and Obama went on to defeat Mitt Romney in the fall. If the pace of inflation continues to moderate, allowing the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, history could repeat itself. If this improvement occurs early enough to affect public opinion, which typically lags behind actual economic conditions, an outright decline in food prices might be enough to secure a second term for Biden, but there are few signs that this will occur. He will have to hope that the stabilization of prices will be enough to change the voters’ evaluation of his performance for the better.

Biden’s Transgender Day Proclamation Sparks Christian Criticism

Critics lambasted President Biden on Saturday for designating March 31, coinciding with Easter Sunday this year, as Transgender Day of Visibility.

The White House released a statement on Friday, with President Biden declaring, “I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 31, 2024, as Transgender Day of Visibility.”

The proclamation urged all Americans to support transgender individuals and strive to eradicate violence and discrimination against them, including those who are gender nonconforming or nonbinary.

Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, criticized Biden’s announcement as part of what he deemed the “administration’s years-long assault on the Christian faith.”

Karoline Leavitt, Trump’s national press secretary, demanded an apology from Biden’s campaign and the White House to the millions of Catholics and Christians who view Easter Sunday solely as a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christian scholars also dismissed the proclamation, with Chad C. Pecknold, a theology professor at Catholic University, remarking, “In my expert theological opinion, Mr. Biden has repeatedly demonstrated that he’s far more committed to the progressive faith than the Catholic one.”

Conservative radio host Larry O’Connor reacted satirically, exclaiming, “HE/SHE/THEY/ZE IS RISEN!”

Governor Hochul of New York followed suit by issuing her own proclamation in line with Biden’s announcement.

However, Biden’s consistent focus on transgender representation has often led to controversy.

In June, Rose Montoya, a transgender influencer, sparked outrage after revealing her prosthetic breasts at a Pride celebration on the White House South Lawn.

Sam Brinton, a nonbinary former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Energy, faced dismissal from the administration and subsequent arrest for involvement in a series of luggage thefts at airports.

Furthermore, the Biden Administration has made efforts to minimize Christian elements from official celebrations.

For instance, at the 2024 White House Easter Egg Roll held on Monday, children of the National Guard were prohibited from submitting designs with religious themes. A flyer for the event stipulated, “The submission must not include any questionable content, religious symbols, overtly religious themes, or partisan political statements.”

Easter typically occurs between March 22 and April 25 each year.

Trump Media’s Truth Social Plummets Over 21% in Stock Value Amid Regulatory Concerns

Trump Media & Technology Group (DJT), the parent company overseeing Donald Trump’s social media venture Truth Social, experienced a significant decline of over 21% in its stock value on Monday, marking a notable downturn following its highly anticipated debut the prior week.

Closing at $48.66 on Monday, Trump Media boasted a market capitalization of $6.65 billion, translating to a stake of $3.8 billion for the former president. This figure represents a decline from Trump’s initial stake, which stood at slightly over $4.5 billion after the company’s public introduction last week.

The drop in stock value coincided with an updated regulatory filing released early Monday, shedding light on substantial losses incurred by the company and emphasizing heightened risks associated with its association with the former president.

The filing disclosed that Trump Media recorded sales slightly surpassing $4 million, juxtaposed with net losses nearing $60 million for the full fiscal year ending December 31. The company cautioned investors to anticipate continued losses amidst escalating challenges in achieving profitability.

“Trump Media & Technology Group has historically incurred operating losses and negative cash flows from operating activities,” the filing highlighted.

Moreover, Truth Social, despite attracting approximately 9 million users since its inception, remains heavily reliant on the reputation and popularity of Donald Trump for its success.

The regulatory filing underscored that Trump Media could face elevated risks compared to conventional social media platforms due to its unique offerings and the involvement of the former president. Potential risks encompassed advertiser harassment and scrutiny of Truth Social’s content moderation practices.

“The value of Trump Media & Technology Group’s brand may diminish if the popularity of President Trump were to suffer,” the filing cautioned.

Of significant note, Trump Media acknowledged its heavy dependence on advertising, with ad sales constituting a substantial portion of its revenue stream. Concerns were raised that a decrease in user numbers or engagement, potentially triggered by the departure of prominent individuals and entities who contribute content to Truth Social, could deter advertisers and adversely impact the company’s financial performance.

The filing further disclosed that stakeholders remain subject to a six-month lockup period before being permitted to sell or transfer shares. This lockup period, however, could offer a window of opportunity for the former president, who is contending with financial challenges, including a $454 million fraud penalty and fundraising deficits ahead of a potential 2024 election rematch against Biden.

The sole exception to the lockup period would entail a special dispensation granted by the company’s board, though such a move is likely to be met with legal challenges from public shareholders, according to experts cited by Yahoo Finance.

Trump Media made its public debut on the Nasdaq following a merger with special purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition Corp., a transaction endorsed by shareholders in late February.

The genesis of Truth Social stemmed from Donald Trump’s removal from major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter—referred to as X—following the events of the January 6 Capitol riots in 2021. Despite subsequently regaining access to these platforms, Trump embarked on establishing Truth Social as an alternative.

In its filing, Truth Social reaffirmed its mission to serve as a sanctuary for “cancelled” content creators and foster an environment conducive to unrestricted discourse, devoid of censorship or cancellation due to political affiliations.

Global Security Landscape Shifts: Nations Adapt to Rising Threats with Defense Spending Surge and Strategic Alliances

The resurgence of major power competition worldwide is prompting nations to adjust their strategies, leading to significant shifts in alliances and defense spending from regions spanning Europe to the Indo-Pacific to the Middle East.

The impact of this shift is particularly noticeable in countries like Sweden and Japan, which are undertaking substantial measures to counter growing threats from Russia and China.

U.S. Admiral John Aquilino, head of Indo-Pacific Command, emphasized the severity of the security landscape, stating, “I’ve described the security environment as the most dangerous I’ve seen in 40 years in uniform.”

As tensions escalate, defense expenditures globally have seen a notable increase. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, global defense spending surged by 9 percent last year, reaching $2.2 trillion.

The majority of nations witnessed a rise in defense spending from 2021 to 2023. European countries collectively elevated their spending from around $350 billion in 2021 to over $388 billion in 2023, while Asian nations increased theirs from over $500 billion to surpassing $510 billion during the same period.

Public perception mirrors the escalating tensions, with an Ipsos poll from November revealing that 84 percent of respondents across 30 countries believe the world is growing more perilous.

Smaller Baltic nations are bolstering their defenses against potential Russian aggression. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, alarmed by signs of a Russian military buildup reminiscent of the Soviet era, have agreed to establish a common defense line comprising bunkers and other defensive structures.

Further north, Finland and Sweden have opted to align with the Western security alliance NATO in response to Russia’s incursions. Sweden’s decision marks a significant departure from its longstanding policy of neutrality, spanning over 200 years. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson emphasized that joining NATO was a “natural” step to safeguard their freedom and democracy.

The move reflects the profound shift in the security environment, characterized by Minna Ålander, a nonresident fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), as “huge” and indicative of unprecedented uncertainty, surpassing even the complexities of the Cold War era.

Finland’s application to NATO further propelled Sweden’s decision, underscoring the tangible threat posed by Russia’s actions and its impact on European security dynamics.

NATO members are committing to ramp up defense spending to meet the longstanding target of dedicating 2 percent of economic output to defense. However, achieving this target has been a point of contention, with former President Trump expressing willingness to allow Russia leeway with countries failing to meet their financial commitments to NATO.

Ålander highlighted the profound shockwaves triggered by Trump’s remarks in Europe, prompting a renewed commitment to defense spending and individual national security, amid concerns about potential vulnerabilities should a future U.S. administration adopt a hostile stance.

The European Union, alongside NATO, acknowledges the imperative to bolster security measures, advocating for increased collaboration on security challenges and a surge in defense spending. European Council President Charles Michel emphasized the need for a “real paradigm shift” to fortify the EU’s defense readiness in the face of the gravest security threat since World War II.

However, some analysts caution against the militarization of Europe, advocating for alternative approaches focused on arms control treaties akin to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In the Indo-Pacific region, the rivalry between the U.S. and China intensifies, particularly amid concerns over a potential Chinese incursion into Taiwan and North Korea’s escalating belligerence towards the U.S. and South Korea.

The U.S. is fortifying alliances in the region and augmenting its presence to deter Beijing from any aggressive actions against Taiwan, potentially slated for 2027, as per Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s directive.

Last year, the U.S. reached agreements with the Philippines to establish four new bases and deepened defense cooperation with Vietnam. The AUKUS pact, a major Indo-Pacific alliance between the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., aims to enhance defense capabilities and advance advanced weapon development.

Japan emerges as a pivotal partner for the U.S. in countering China and North Korea, with Tokyo undergoing a strategic shift, doubling its defense budget by 2027 and relaxing restrictions on the export of lethal weapons.

The changing political landscape within Japan, marked by diminishing pro-Beijing factions and a younger generation more attuned to the contemporary geopolitical realities, has propelled Tokyo towards a more assertive defense posture.

Additionally, Japan’s pivotal role in the trilateral alliance with the U.S. and South Korea underscores its growing significance as a strategic ally in the region.

In the Middle East, escalating tensions with Iran have raised fears of a major regional conflict, particularly amid a recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, exacerbating hostilities between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel’s defense minister warned of an impending conflict with Iran, reflecting growing concerns about Tehran’s regional ambitions and its proxies’ increasing proximity to Israel’s borders.

The potential for a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could have far-reaching consequences, potentially sparking a broader regional crisis with implications for global security.

In response, the U.S. may seek to solidify alliances with Arab nations in the region to prepare for a potential confrontation with Iran, reflecting a broader trend towards coalition-building in the face of escalating geopolitical tensions.

Rethinking the Dragon’s Roar: The Shifting Dynamics of Global Power

“In 2008, an article in The New Yorker ignited discussions about America’s global dominance, suggesting it might be waning and opening doors for emerging powers like China, India, and Russia. Subsequent pieces in publications like Foreign Affairs and The Economist echoed this sentiment, propelling China’s rise as an inevitable superpower. However, recent years have witnessed a dramatic shift in this narrative.

The once-held belief in China’s imminent economic supremacy over the U.S. now appears uncertain. The notion of China leading the charge in geopolitics, with other nations following suit, is also faltering. Doubts loom over whether China will ever surpass the U.S. economically, prompting countries worldwide to reconsider their connections with Beijing and the potential risks associated with projects like the Belt and Road Initiative.

Simultaneously, China faces challenges on multiple fronts. Its population growth has stagnated, and a wave of Chinese entrepreneurs is seeking opportunities abroad. Optimism among Chinese youth is waning, mirrored by the downturn in the Chinese stock market and plummeting foreign direct investment. These economic woes have prompted Beijing to retract many key economic indicators from public view.

Contrastingly, the U.S. economy continues to thrive, maintaining its position as the world’s fastest-growing and most dynamic economy. Key indicators such as inflation, job growth, real wages, and productivity are all on the rise.

What led to this reversal of fortunes? China’s trajectory underscores the inherent limitations of a state-controlled economy, especially when political directives supersede market dynamics. Sustainable economic growth becomes challenging under heavy state intervention, particularly when coupled with tightening political control over both citizens and entrepreneurs.

Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s visionary move towards embracing global capitalism nearly five decades ago unleashed China’s entrepreneurial spirit, propelling it from a predominantly rural society to the home of the world’s largest middle class within a few decades. However, current leader Xi Jinping’s focus on consolidating power risks stifling this economic dynamism. Economic vitality thrives in environments characterized by freedom—freedom of expression, creativity, business, all upheld within a framework of rule of law.

Historically, major technological innovations have predominantly emanated from democracies like the U.S. and its allies. The synergy between freedom, education, and innovation underscores the role of open societies in driving economic and cultural transformations. Therefore, nurturing an environment conducive to innovation is imperative for sustained economic growth and global leadership.

Despite the U.S.’s economic prowess, challenges persist. The Biden Administration must prioritize reinvesting in domestic economies and addressing economic disparities that fuel anti-democratic sentiments. Strengthening alliances with like-minded nations is also crucial in countering authoritarian regimes’ growing influence.

However, amidst these imperatives, concerns linger over President Biden’s reelection prospects and the potential return of Donald Trump to the White House. Trump’s foreign policy inclinations, particularly his cozying up to leaders like Vladimir Putin and his disregard for China’s rising influence, pose significant risks to global stability.

The onus is now on the U.S. and its democratic allies to fortify their collective economic and political alliances to counter authoritarian threats effectively. Leveraging China’s economic missteps, these alliances must work towards reshaping critical supply chains away from China, thereby reducing dependency on China’s political and economic whims.

By embracing ally-shoring strategies, democratic nations can present a more attractive alternative to China’s diminishing influence, while sending a clear message that they won’t succumb to economic coercion. This concerted effort not only safeguards democratic values but also strengthens the rules-based international order, ensuring a more stable and prosperous future for all.”

U.S. Government Overhauls Racial and Ethnic Categories for First Time in 27 Years to Better Reflect Diversity and Inclusion

The U.S. government is undertaking a significant overhaul in its approach to categorizing people by race and ethnicity, marking the first such change in 27 years. The effort aims to provide more accurate representation for individuals identifying as Hispanic and those of Middle Eastern and North African heritage, reflecting evolving social attitudes, immigration patterns, and the desire for inclusivity in a diverse society.

According to Meeta Anand, senior director for Census & Data Equity at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, this shift holds immense emotional significance for individuals as it shapes societal perceptions and allows people to tell their own stories through data. The key alteration involves combining race and ethnicity questions into a single inquiry, enabling respondents to select multiple categories simultaneously, such as “Black,” “American Indian,” and “Hispanic.”

Previously, many Hispanic individuals faced difficulty in accurately responding to the race question when presented separately, often selecting “some other race” or opting out altogether due to perceived similarities between race and ethnicity. With the inclusion of a Middle Eastern and North African category, individuals from regions like Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, and Syria—who previously defaulted to identifying as white—now have the opportunity to identify within this newly recognized group. The 2020 census revealed approximately 3.5 million residents identifying as Middle Eastern and North African.

Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani, whose parents hail from Iran, expressed her relief at the newfound representation, noting that her family previously checked the “white” box due to the absence of a more suitable option. The removal of outdated and potentially offensive terms like “Negro” and “Far East,” as well as the elimination of “majority” and “minority” labels, underscores a commitment to accurately reflecting the nation’s racial and ethnic diversity.

The revisions extend beyond mere terminology, advocating for the collection of detailed data to capture nuances within racial and ethnic groups. This disaggregation allows for a more comprehensive understanding of disparities in income, health, and other socio-economic factors, as emphasized by Allison Plyer, chief demographer of The Data Center in New Orleans.

While the process of revising these standards involved a non-partisan group of federal statisticians and bureaucrats, the implications are far-reaching, impacting legislative redistricting, civil rights laws, health statistics, and potentially even politics. The initiative gained momentum during the Obama administration but faced setbacks under the Trump presidency before being revived following President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Implementation of these changes will be widespread, affecting federal and state government forms, surveys, and census questionnaires, as well as private sector practices which often align with governmental standards. Federal agencies have been given 18 months to develop plans for incorporating these revisions.

The historical evolution of racial and ethnic categories within the U.S. government reflects shifting societal dynamics. From the inclusion of “Free Colored People” in the 1820 census to the addition of “Chinese” in 1870 following increased immigration, these categories have evolved over time to mirror the nation’s demographic changes.

However, not all individuals are fully supportive of the latest revisions. Some Afro Latinos fear a reduction in their representation within combined race and ethnicity categories, although previous research suggests minimal differences in responses when questions are posed separately versus together. Mozelle Ortiz, of mixed Afro Puerto Rican descent, expressed concern over the potential erasure of her lineage.

Additionally, certain groups such as Armenians or Arabs from Sudan and Somalia feel overlooked in the examples provided to define Middle Eastern or North African backgrounds. Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute, while appreciative of the new category, criticized its lack of inclusivity, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive representation of racial diversity within these communities.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Selects Nicole Shanahan as Vice Presidential Pick in Independent White House Bid

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has selected Nicole Shanahan as his running mate for vice president, a move aimed at bolstering his independent bid for the White House and appealing to disenchanted voters following the 2020 election rematch.

Shanahan, 38, hails from California and brings with her a background as a lawyer and philanthropist, though she hasn’t held elected office before. She founded the Bia-Echo Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding various causes including women’s reproductive science, criminal justice reform, and environmental initiatives.

Kennedy, a former Democrat, announced his decision in Oakland, California, Shanahan’s hometown, emphasizing their shared departure from the Democratic Party due to perceived shifts in its values.

“Our values didn’t change. The Democratic Party did,” Kennedy remarked.

However, Kennedy’s independent candidacy has stirred concerns among Democrats, who fear it could split the vote and impact support for President Joe Biden or even aid former President Donald Trump. Both sides have criticized Kennedy and Shanahan, underscoring the uncertainty surrounding their potential impact on the election.

As an independent candidate, Kennedy faces a daunting challenge in securing ballot access across the 50 states, each with its own set of rules. His selection of a running mate comes as a necessity, with approximately half of the states mandating the designation of a vice presidential candidate before applying for ballot access.

Kennedy has managed to secure ballot access in Utah and claims to have gathered sufficient signatures in several other states, including crucial swing states like Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, though official confirmation is pending in some cases.

In Nevada, for instance, Democratic Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar has stipulated the nomination of a vice presidential candidate before signature collection, a requirement that Kennedy’s campaign encountered after announcing signature collection efforts.

Acknowledging the obstacles ahead, Kennedy urged Americans to take a chance on his candidacy, emphasizing that the biggest barrier is the perception that he cannot win.

“If Nicole and I can get Americans to refuse to vote from fear, we’re going to be in the White House in November,” Kennedy asserted.

Shanahan, in her introduction to Kennedy supporters, echoed the central theme of their campaign, criticizing both major parties, the media, and the government for being influenced by profit-driven interests. She also aligned herself with Kennedy’s controversial stance on vaccines.

“It wasn’t until I met Bobby and people supporting him that I felt any hope in the outcome of this election,” Shanahan expressed.

Shanahan, previously married to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, is deeply involved in Silicon Valley’s tech culture, an industry frequently critiqued by Kennedy. However, Kennedy believes her connections can be utilized to challenge the tech industry’s dominance, and her expertise in artificial intelligence could inform government policies on emerging technologies.

Outside the venue where Kennedy made his announcement, the scene depicted the stark realities of California’s housing crisis, serving as a backdrop to the campaign’s focus on addressing societal challenges.

Attendees like Dawn Mitchell, impressed by Shanahan’s passion for various causes, highlighted their newfound admiration for the vice presidential pick.

In a prelude to Kennedy’s speech, speakers including Angela Stanton-King, Metta World Peace, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya lent their support to the campaign, representing a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is gearing up to counter Kennedy’s candidacy, along with other third-party options such as No Labels, which is working to recruit a centrist ticket. Critics from within Kennedy’s own family have voiced opposition to his views, suggesting a divide within the Kennedy clan.

Republicans also express concerns about Kennedy’s anti-establishment stance and his views on COVID-19, fearing they could attract voters who might otherwise support Trump.

Kennedy’s lineage, descending from a prominent Democratic family, including his father Robert F. Kennedy and uncle President John F. Kennedy, lends weight to his candidacy. However, his activism, while lauded in some circles, has also been marred by controversy, particularly regarding his stance on vaccines.

His involvement in an anti-vaccine group, currently embroiled in a lawsuit against several news organizations, underscores the contentious nature of his advocacy.

Kennedy’s bid for the presidency, alongside Shanahan as his running mate, presents a challenge to the political establishment, reflecting a growing disillusionment with traditional party politics and a desire for alternative voices in governance.

New York Appeals Court Grants Trump Temporary Reprieve in $454 Million Fraud Case

A New York appeals court has granted former President Donald Trump a temporary reprieve from the collection of his $454 million civil fraud judgment, provided he can put up $175 million within the next ten days.

The court’s decision allows Trump to halt the collection process and shields his assets from seizure by the state while he pursues his appeal. Additionally, the court suspended other aspects of the trial judge’s ruling, which had banned Trump and his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. from holding corporate leadership positions for several years.

This ruling represents a significant legal victory for the former president as he defends his real estate empire, which has been central to his public persona. The timing is crucial, coming just before New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, was set to initiate efforts to enforce the judgment.

Trump, who was attending a separate hearing regarding his criminal hush money case in New York, expressed satisfaction with the ruling and pledged to meet the financial requirements set by the court. He criticized the trial judge, Arthur Engoron, for what he perceived as unfair treatment and argued that the fraud case was detrimental to business interests in New York.

While Trump celebrated the court’s decision, James’ office emphasized that the judgment against him remains valid despite the temporary pause in collection efforts.

Trump’s legal team had petitioned the appeals court to halt the collection, citing difficulties in securing an underwriter for a bond covering the substantial sum owed, which continues to accrue interest. Although the court rejected their initial proposal for a $100 million bond, it has now provided a pathway for Trump to delay collection by requiring a $175 million bond.

The ruling was issued by a five-judge panel in the state’s intermediate appeals court, known as the Appellate Division, where Trump is challenging Engoron’s ruling issued on February 16.

Engoron’s decision followed a lengthy civil trial in which he sided with the attorney general, finding that Trump, his company, and top executives had misrepresented Trump’s wealth on financial documents, deceiving lenders and insurers. For instance, the valuation of Trump’s penthouse was inflated to nearly three times its actual worth.

Trump and his co-defendants have denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the financial statements were conservative estimates and were not taken at face value by lenders or insurers. They asserted that any discrepancies were inadvertent errors made by subordinates.

The court’s decision to require Trump to post a $175 million bond effectively puts the collection of the judgment on hold, including obligations for Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr., who were ordered to pay smaller amounts.

Following James’ victory in the trial, there was a legal hiatus during which Trump could appeal for relief from payment enforcement. However, this period ended with the recent court ruling.

While James has not disclosed specific plans for seizing Trump’s assets, she has indicated a willingness to pursue various avenues, including bank accounts, investment holdings, and properties such as the Trump Tower penthouse, aircraft, office buildings, and golf courses.

The process of liquidating such substantial assets could prove challenging, according to legal experts, given the magnitude of Trump’s holdings and the complexities involved in finding buyers.

Under New York law, filing an appeal typically does not forestall judgment enforcement, but posting a bond covering the owed amount triggers an automatic pause in collection efforts. Bonds of this magnitude are rare, according to legal analysts, particularly when the individual is required to secure it personally.

Trump’s legal team had encountered difficulties in securing an underwriter for the bond, which was reportedly set at 120% of the judgment amount. They argued against tying up significant liquid assets, including cash and stocks, which are crucial for the operation of Trump’s business ventures.

The court’s decision to require a lower bond amount represents a compromise between the parties, providing Trump with a temporary respite from collection while ensuring some financial security for potential creditors.

Poll Shows Biden Leads Trump Nationally, but Third-Party Candidates Alter Dynamics

In a recent national survey, President Biden holds a slight lead over former President Trump, but the inclusion of independent and third-party contenders alters the landscape, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday.

The poll indicates that in a direct face-off between the primary nominees of the major parties, Biden stands at 48 percent support while Trump trails closely at 45 percent. These figures depict a marginal shift from February’s numbers, where Biden led Trump by a 49-45 percent margin.

However, the survey illuminates the potential threat to Biden’s position posed by alternative candidates. When the inquiry extends to encompass independent nominee Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and third-party contenders Jill Stein and Cornel West, Trump manages to edge past Biden, holding a 39-38 lead. Kennedy Jr. secures 13 percent support, with Stein at 4 percent and West at 3 percent, as per the poll.

Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy remarks on the tight contest, stating, “Way too close to call on the head-to-head and even closer when third-party candidates are counted.” Malloy emphasizes the proximity of the race despite the months remaining until the election, dubbing it “about as close as it can get.”

The survey, conducted from March 21-25, sampled 1,407 registered voters across the nation, with a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.

These findings echo the growing indication that Trump and Biden are gearing up for a closely contested general election. Another poll focusing on battleground states, released the previous day, illustrates Biden’s narrowing the gap on Trump, even taking the lead in Wisconsin.

In parallel, on Tuesday, Kennedy Jr. disclosed his selection of attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his running mate, a decision poised to provide both financial support and assistance in navigating ballot access requirements in states mandating a running mate.

However, this move has elicited criticism from Democrats, who accuse Kennedy of inadvertently aiding the GOP by persisting in his candidacy against Biden.

Donald Trump’s Historic Trial: Jury Selection Set for April 15 in Criminal Hush Money Case

The commencement of jury selection in the criminal trial regarding hush money linked to Donald Trump is scheduled to commence on April 15, as determined by a New York judge on Monday. This trial marks a significant event in United States history, being the first criminal prosecution of a former President. Judge Juan M. Merchan issued the ruling despite objections from Trump’s legal team, who sought a postponement due to the late submission of over 100,000 pages of potential evidence by federal prosecutors. Merchan asserted that Trump had been allotted a reasonable period for preparation, dismissing the delay request while Trump was present in the courtroom.

Originally slated to commence on Monday, the trial in Manhattan concerns allegations of falsifying business records to conceal a sex scandal involving adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the final stages of the 2016 election campaign. However, the trial was rescheduled to mid-April following the belated submission of additional documents by federal prosecutors. Merchan absolved Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office of responsibility for the tardy document production from the U.S. Attorney’s office, allowing the case to proceed to trial next month, thus ensuring a court date well in advance of the November election.

Trump denounced the case as “a witch hunt” and “a hoax” upon his arrival at the courtroom on Monday, and later expressed intentions to appeal the judge’s decision to commence the trial in April. Maintaining his plea of not guilty to all 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal payments orchestrated by his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, Trump positioned himself for a legal battle where Cohen is anticipated to serve as the principal witness against him.

Voicing his grievances, Trump asserted, “This case should have been brought three and a half years ago, they decided to wait now just during the election, so that I won’t be able to campaign.” He underscored his determination to challenge the ruling through an appeal.

While Trump faces four criminal cases amid his bid for a return to the White House, the Manhattan trial stands as the sole case with an established trial date. Legal analysts speculate that the hush money case could present the most substantial possibility of a felony conviction among Trump’s four criminal charges before the November election.

Biden Unveils Ambitious Regulations to Drive Electric Vehicle Adoption in US

President Joe Biden has unveiled the most stringent regulations on vehicle exhaust emissions ever seen in the United States, aiming to hasten the automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles. The initiative sets a goal for 56% of all new vehicles sold in the US to be electric by 2032, a significant increase from current levels. While this objective represents a compromise from last year’s draft, the Biden administration asserts that it will still significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the regulation announced on Wednesday is projected to prevent 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the next three decades. The new regulation progressively tightens the limits on pollution allowed from vehicle exhausts on a yearly basis, with car manufacturers facing substantial fines if they fail to meet the new standards. However, companies will still retain the ability to produce gasoline-powered vehicles, provided they constitute a diminishing proportion of their overall product lineup.

In contrast to the European Union and the UK, which have committed to prohibiting the sale of petrol-powered cars from 2035 onwards, the United States is adopting a more measured approach. Last year, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak postponed the British ban by five years from its initial deadline of 2030. The American automotive industry raised concerns over the slower growth in electric vehicle (EV) sales, particularly objecting to a draft proposal from last year that would have mandated EVs to comprise 67% of all new car sales by 2032. Notably, EVs accounted for less than 8% of total new car sales last year. While the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association representing the car industry, appreciated the slower pace of implementation, it deemed the objective still “extraordinarily ambitious.” Environmental organizations generally welcomed the regulation, although some activists expressed disappointment that it didn’t go further.

However, the new rules are anticipated to encounter legal challenges from the oil industry and states led by Republicans, possibly culminating in a Supreme Court decision. This policy underscores the delicate political balancing act President Biden must navigate. As he campaigns for re-election against Republican opponent Donald Trump, Biden aims to court car workers in Michigan, a potentially decisive swing state, while simultaneously addressing climate change, a critical issue for many Democrats. Trump has vowed to reverse environmental regulations enacted by Biden if he wins in November. Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, criticized the regulations, arguing that they would compel Americans to purchase prohibitively expensive cars they neither desire nor can afford, ultimately harming the US auto industry in the process. Last year, the average sale price of an EV was approximately $53,500, around $5,000 more expensive than petrol-powered cars, whereas the average annual salary in the US stands at roughly $59,000.

Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson also condemned the policy, characterizing it as “another radical, anti-energy crusade” that will restrict consumer options, escalate costs for American families, and devastate auto manufacturers.

Trump’s Financial Gambit: Can Stock Market Rescue Him?

Donald Trump seems to be in a hurry to secure funds to settle a substantial $464 million fraud penalty. Is there a chance the stock market could come to his aid?

Trump Media, the operator of the Truth Social platform, is on the verge of going public following a decisive vote by the majority of Digital World Acquisition Corp shareholders. This move positions Mr. Trump to hold a minimum stake of 58% in the merged entity, which, at the current share prices of Digital World, would be valued at nearly $3 billion.

Despite significant concerns surrounding the deal, including pending lawsuits from past business associates and an $18 million settlement Digital World agreed to pay over alleged fraud in the merger process, shareholders of Digital World, predominantly individual investors, many of whom are believed to be loyal to Trump, seem undeterred.

“This is just the start,” remarked Chad Nedohin, a supporter of the deal, on his show DWAC Live, broadcasted on Rumble. “There’s no reason to freak out.”

Digital World, known as a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), will undergo a name change to Trump Media & Technology Group and is poised to begin trading on Nasdaq as DJT possibly next week. However, this move may not immediately resolve Trump’s financial predicaments, such as the substantial fraud fine in New York. Restrictions prevent Trump from selling or transferring his shares for at least six months, although exemptions might be granted by the new company. Alternatively, Trump could seek a loan backed by the share value, though analysts caution that banks may lend him significantly less than the shares’ paper value due to the business’s inherent risks.

Some supporters, like Mr. Nedohin, speculate that backing this deal could aid Trump in his legal battles. “This is putting your money where your mouth is for free speech, to save your country, potentially losing it all,” he remarked on his show.

Analysts warn of significant risks for Digital World shareholders, especially considering the drop in share prices since the announcement of plans to acquire Trump Media in 2021. Despite Friday’s decline, the implied valuation of Trump Media remains substantial, considering its modest revenue of $3.3 million and a loss of nearly $50 million in the first nine months of the preceding year.

The merger injects over $200 million in cash into Trump Media, potentially facilitating growth and expansion. However, Truth Social, positioned as an alternative to major social media platforms, remains relatively small, with approximately 8.9 million sign-ups, as per its claims. The platform does not track user growth or engagement metrics, a fact it doesn’t intend to change, according to regulatory filings. In February, Truth Social received an estimated five million visits, significantly lower than major platforms like X, previously known as Twitter, which recorded over 100 million visits.

Financial experts categorize Digital World as a “meme stock,” wherein share prices detach from a company’s fundamentals, posing an eventual risk of decline. While predictions about the timeline of this collapse remain uncertain, there’s an understanding that it’s a matter of when, not if.

Individual investors, particularly drawn in after the announcement of the Trump deal and his primary win in Iowa, have been instrumental in driving Digital World’s stock activity. However, ahead of the recent vote, there’s been a notable decrease in activity, suggesting that professional firms may be assuming a more dominant role in trading.

Despite Trump’s minimal contributions beyond his name and posts to the platform, he stands to be the primary beneficiary of this deal. Michael Ohlrogge, a law professor at New York University, who has scrutinized listings like Trump Media, describes it as “an enormous transfer of value from [investors]… to Trump, which stands to be extremely lucrative for him.”

Supreme Court Allows Texas Law Targeting Illegal Immigration to Take Effect Despite Dissent

The Supreme Court issued an order on Tuesday permitting a Texas law to be enforced, granting state law enforcement the authority to detain individuals suspected of illegally entering the United States from Mexico. The statute in question, known as S.B. 4, faced dissent from the three liberal justices. Although this decision does not represent a final judgment, it paves the way for the controversial law’s implementation, with the possibility of further legal proceedings.

The Biden administration had advocated for blocking the law, labeling it as an unprecedented intrusion into federal immigration enforcement. U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar emphasized the inconsistency of S.B. 4 with federal law, asserting that it is preempted in all its applications. The law, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, criminalizes illegal immigration at the state level, granting authority to local law enforcement for apprehension and potential deportation of individuals suspected of crossing the U.S.-Mexico border unlawfully.

In opposition to the majority’s decision, the liberal justices expressed concern regarding the potential ramifications of enforcing the law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, criticized the move, citing potential chaos in immigration enforcement. Additionally, Justice Elena Kagan voiced her dissent separately.

Texas defended the law by asserting the state’s constitutional right to self-defense, arguing that the Biden administration had failed to adequately address border security concerns. The state contended that the issues raised should not be within the purview of federal courts, especially considering that state courts have yet to interpret S.B. 4’s provisions.

The White House denounced the Supreme Court’s decision, condemning the law as harmful and unconstitutional. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre highlighted concerns regarding its impact on community safety, law enforcement, and the potential for confusion at the southern border. Jean-Pierre urged congressional Republicans to support a bipartisan Senate border security bill, which has faced opposition from former President Trump and numerous GOP lawmakers.

The ruling elicited alarm from immigration advocates and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who warned of increased racial profiling and civil rights violations. Representative Joaquin Castro criticized the court’s decision, expressing concerns about potential targeting of individuals perceived as immigrants by law enforcement. Immigration groups echoed these concerns, emphasizing the risks to both undocumented immigrants and U.S. citizens.

The legal battle over S.B. 4 now shifts back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where Texas’s appeal on the law’s merits is being heard. The court has expedited its review, scheduling oral arguments for April 3, with the possibility of further appeal to the Supreme Court. Texas has been at the forefront of aggressive immigration enforcement measures, challenging Biden administration policies and implementing its own initiatives under Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star.

In previous clashes with the federal government, Texas has faced legal challenges over measures such as installing buoys in the Rio Grande and concertina wire along the border. Despite initial victories, such as the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the cutting of concertina wire, legal battles persist as Texas continues its efforts to exert control over immigration enforcement within its borders.

Trump Urges Supreme Court: Grant Immunity or Risk Future Presidents’ Vulnerability

Former President Donald Trump presented his case to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, warning of potential vulnerabilities for future presidents if the court did not adopt his expansive view of immunity against charges brought forth by special counsel Jack Smith regarding election subversion. Trump argued that failure to accept his stance could open the door to “de facto blackmail and extortion while in office.” However, he also proposed an alternative route to the justices, suggesting a delay in the trial until after the upcoming November election, aligning with his political objectives.

In his latest Supreme Court brief, Trump emphasized the importance of presidential immunity, drawing attention to statements made by Justice Brett Kavanaugh before his nomination to the bench, seemingly appealing to Kavanaugh’s past viewpoints. With oral arguments scheduled for April 25, Trump’s legal team is vigorously advocating for his immunity stance, aiming to avoid immediate legal proceedings.

Should the Supreme Court be unwilling to grant full immunity, Trump urged them to remand the case to lower courts for further consideration, potentially prolonging the trial for several months. This alternative route could offer a compromise for the conservative majority of the court, providing a means to delay without endorsing a blanket immunity for former presidents.

The brief underscored the uncharted legal territory the court faces and the significant implications its decision will have for future presidents. Trump’s attorneys argued that denying immunity could set a precedent that threatens the integrity of the presidency itself, asserting, “That would be the end of the Presidency as we know it and would irreparably damage our Republic.”

Trump’s legal strategy also includes references to Kavanaugh’s past writings, particularly regarding the impact of criminal investigations on sitting presidents. While Kavanaugh’s previous statements focused on current presidents, Trump’s lawyers contend that the logic extends to former presidents awaiting potential investigations post-office.

Trump pointed out Kavanaugh’s observations on the inherently political nature of decisions regarding presidential prosecution, emphasizing that this principle applies even more strongly to a former president who is also a leading candidate in the upcoming election. By weaving Kavanaugh’s past experiences and opinions into his arguments, Trump seeks to bolster his case for immunity before the Supreme Court.

Mike Pence Declines to Endorse Trump for 2024, Citing Differences in Conservative Values

Former Vice President Mike Pence has made a significant announcement, opting not to endorse his former running mate, ex-President Trump. The revelation, unveiled on Friday, underscores the strain in their relationship following the tumultuous events of January 6th, where Trump publicly blamed Pence for not returning disputed electoral slates to state legislatures during his role as Senate president.

In an interview on “The Story,” Pence expressed his decision, noting, “It should come as no surprise that I will not be endorsing Donald Trump this year.” Despite this, he maintained pride in the achievements of their administration, highlighting its conservative agenda that he believes enhanced America’s prosperity, security, and judicial landscape.

Reflecting on his own bid for the presidency and the subsequent differences with Trump, Pence reiterated his interpretation of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, stating, “[We have] our differences on my constitutional duties that I exercised on January 6 [2021].”

Pence criticized Trump’s 2024 campaign stance, alleging deviations from conservative principles such as fiscal responsibility and the sanctity of life. He particularly singled out Trump’s recent remarks concerning China and his opposition to banning TikTok, marking a departure from his previous stance as president.

Trump’s shifting position on TikTok, seen in light of his criticism of the Gallagher-Krishnamoorthi TikTok bill, was met with Pence’s skepticism. Pence emphasized his perception of Trump’s divergent agenda, which he believes contradicts their past governance aligned with conservative values.

Speculation arose regarding Trump’s ties to ByteDance through one of its major shareholders, Jeffrey Yass, amid his changing stance on TikTok. However, Trump denied discussing TikTok with Yass, stating that their conversation revolved around school choice instead.

Despite his decision not to endorse Trump, Pence acknowledged the preference of Republican voters for Trump’s candidacy. He reiterated his commitment to advocating for the traditional conservative platform that has historically defined the party’s principles.

In response to queries about a potential third-party run, Pence reaffirmed his loyalty to the Republican Party, dismissing such speculation with a simple assertion: “I’m a Republican, Martha.”

Lastly, Pence clarified that regardless of his stance on Trump, he would not support President Biden in any scenario, maintaining secrecy about his voting intentions.

Pence’s decision not to endorse Trump reflects the ongoing tensions within the Republican Party and highlights the struggle to maintain ideological unity following the events of January 6th.

Trump Warns of ‘Most Important’ Election in U.S. History, Biden Counters with Democracy’s ‘Unprecedented’ Threats

At a rally in Ohio over the weekend, Donald Trump emphasized the significance of the upcoming presidential election, labeling it as potentially the most crucial moment in American history. He portrayed his candidacy as pivotal for the nation’s trajectory. Trump’s remarks, following his confirmation as the presumptive Republican nominee, included a forewarning of dire consequences if he fails to secure victory, albeit the context behind his mention of a “bloodbath” remained ambiguous, intertwined with comments regarding challenges to the US auto industry.

“The date — remember this, November 5 — I believe it’s going to be the most important date in the history of our country,” Trump reiterated to his supporters in Vandalia, Ohio, reiterating familiar criticisms of his opponent, President Joe Biden, branding him as the “worst” president.

He raised concerns over alleged Chinese intentions to manufacture cars in Mexico for the American market, asserting confidently, “They’re not going to be able to sell those cars if I get elected.”

“If I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole, that’s going to be the least of it, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the country. That’ll be the least of it. But they’re not going to sell those cars,” Trump added.

Trump’s remarks sparked discussions on social media, prompting Biden’s campaign to release a statement characterizing the former president as a “loser” in the 2020 election who now exacerbates concerns with his hints of political upheaval.

“He wants another January 6, but the American people are going to give him another electoral defeat this November because they continue to reject his extremism, his affection for violence, and his thirst for revenge,” Biden’s campaign responded, alluding to the deadly Capitol riot in 2021.

Later, Biden addressed concerns at a dinner in Washington, highlighting the current historical moment as “unprecedented” and stressing the threats faced by democracy.

“Freedom is under assault… The lies about the 2020 election, the plot to overturn it, to embrace the Jan. 6 insurrection pose the greatest threat to our democracy since the American Civil War,” Biden expressed, reflecting on the persistent challenges.

“In 2020, they failed, but … the threat remains,” he added, maintaining a serious tone but interjecting moments of levity as he dismissed doubts about his age and fitness for a second term.

“One candidate’s too old and mentally unfit to be president,” Biden quipped, referring to the presidential race. “The other guy’s me.”

Earlier in the month, both Trump and Biden secured enough delegates to clinch their party nominations for the 2024 presidential race, virtually ensuring a rematch and setting the stage for an extensive campaign period.

Trump’s campaign agenda includes a broad overhaul of what he deems as Biden’s problematic immigration policies, despite his successful efforts to block a bill in Congress that proposed stringent border security measures.

Over the weekend, Trump revisited the issue of immigration, particularly targeting minority voters who traditionally lean Democratic. He accused Biden of betraying African American voters by granting work permits to “millions” of immigrants, cautioning that they, along with Hispanic Americans, would bear the brunt of the consequences.

Ohio, historically regarded as a crucial swing state, has leaned increasingly towards the Republican Party since Trump’s victory in 2016.

The rally in Ohio occurred shortly after Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, announced that he would not be endorsing Trump for a second term in the White House.

Georgia Judge’s Ruling Prompts Top Prosecutor’s Resignation, Advances Trump Election Interference Case

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has accepted the resignation of Nathan Wade, her top special prosecutor in the former President Donald Trump’s election interference case. This move comes after a Georgia judge made Wade’s stepping aside a condition for Willis to remain on the case, further solidifying the prospects of 15 defendants, including Trump, facing trial in Georgia for their alleged roles in attempting to overturn the 2020 election result.

The decision stems from a 23-page ruling by Fulton Superior Judge Scott McAfee, following extensive courtroom testimony. McAfee ruled that while Willis’ romantic involvement with Wade didn’t necessitate disqualification, it created an appearance of conflict of interest. McAfee emphasized the importance of maintaining the perception of impartiality in legal proceedings, stating, “an outsider could reasonably think that the District Attorney is not exercising her independent professional judgment totally free of any compromising influences.”

McAfee provided a clear directive, giving prosecutors an ultimatum: either Wade resigns from the case or Willis must step aside and refer the prosecution elsewhere. Willis, in accepting Wade’s resignation, commended him for his professionalism.

This development signifies a significant juncture in the ongoing investigation into efforts to undermine the 2020 election result in Georgia. Willis, the first Black woman elected district attorney in Fulton County, has been at the forefront of this case, which has garnered national attention. Despite expected appeals, the focus can now shift back to advancing the case towards trial.

The case, which revolves around alleged attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s election result, has seen various twists and turns. Willis’ utilization of Georgia’s racketeering law and her courtroom prowess have been notable features of the proceedings. The indictment, initially involving 19 individuals, was handed up by a grand jury last August.

Challenges arose earlier when former Trump campaign official Michael Roman accused Willis of misconduct, alleging financial impropriety related to her relationship with Wade. However, McAfee’s ruling found no evidence that Willis’ conduct influenced the case’s progression.

While McAfee acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and criticized the handling of certain aspects of the case, he deemed disqualifying Willis unnecessary, opting for a less drastic remedy. McAfee’s measured approach reflects his reputation for managing complex cases with impartiality.

Trump’s lawyer, Steve Sadow, expressed disappointment with the decision, reiterating their intention to explore all legal avenues to end the case. Meanwhile, the district attorney’s office has yet to respond to McAfee’s order.

Despite the decision, the controversy surrounding Willis and Wade’s relationship could have lasting repercussions. Georgia Republicans have initiated several investigations into Willis for alleged misconduct, potentially undermining public trust in her and the case itself.

As the legal proceedings continue, potential jurors may be influenced by the ongoing drama, raising questions about the integrity of the prosecution. While some defendants have already pleaded guilty, a trial date for the remaining defendants is yet to be determined, as McAfee grapples with the logistical challenges posed by the case’s complexity and the involvement of a former president.

Trump’s Favorability Remains Low Despite Nearing Republican Nomination

Recent polling indicates that Donald Trump continues to face low favorability ratings among Americans, despite emerging as the probable Republican nominee following his success in the primaries and the withdrawal of his sole remaining rival.

According to a survey conducted by ABC News/Ipsos among 536 U.S. adults on March 8-9, only 29 percent hold a favorable view of the former president, while a majority of 59 percent view him unfavorably.

Trump’s dominance in the primaries, where he secured all but one victory on Super Tuesday, prompted former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley to exit the race, leaving him uncontested. However, his favorability rating has seen little change since last summer, remaining around 30 percent.

The survey also compared Trump’s popularity with that of President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee. Biden’s favorability rating stands at 33 percent, slightly higher than Trump’s, with 54 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Both candidates have struggled to gain widespread approval, with more people disapproving of them than approving. This trend has persisted across various polls, indicating a challenge in rallying voter support.

Regarding trust in their presidential capabilities, 36 percent of respondents believed Trump would do a better job compared to 33 percent for Biden, while 30 percent had no preference for either candidate.

The race between Trump and Biden remains tight in national polls, with only a small margin separating them. However, Trump faces legal challenges as he becomes the first former president to undergo four criminal trials, which he claims are politically motivated.

Meanwhile, concerns over Biden’s age and mental acuity have surfaced, with critics questioning his fitness for another term. Despite being the oldest serving president in U.S. history at 81, Biden has dismissed such concerns, asserting that his “memory is fine” and he knows “what the hell” he’s doing.

Polling data also indicates that nearly half of U.S. adults consider Trump too old for another term, raising questions about his ability to lead. Additionally, Biden has faced criticism for his handling of issues such as undocumented immigration and the Israel-Hamas conflict, with around two-thirds of voters disapproving of his approach.

Despite these challenges, political analysts suggest that Biden’s support base may reluctantly back him to prevent a Trump victory, particularly concerning sensitive issues like the Gaza conflict.

Nationalism A Dominant Frame In Global Media Narratives; India Is No Exception

Resurgent right-wing politics and ‘ubiquitous hyper-nationalist politics’ have been global phenomena that have taken different forms of governance into their folds. The case of India and China can be two contrasting examples of the rise of such hyper-nationalism. The case of the United States will also be discussed.

Nationalism has deeply influenced media narratives in the recent conflict between India and China, where the governance structure is fundamentally different. India is the world’s largest parliamentary democracy, and China symbolizes one-party totalitarianism, where the Communist Party is the world’s largest political party.

While the electoral promise of social and economic upliftment in the world’s largest democracy, India often rejects media dissent and creates an ecosystem whereby major stakeholders in the media landscape conform to the government and are expected not to ‘oil the wheels of democracy’ and bolster nationalistic ideas and opinions through their pervasive and persuasive media narratives; a section remains within that media landscape in India which also keep making efforts to speak truth to power, often questioning and introspecting the government narratives, ranging from less-nationalistic to non-nationalistic. Such counter-thoughts to construct a parallel narrative alongside the mainstream nationalistic media narrative provide a wholesome and divergent interpretation of information, which often baffles the reader into asking which is the ‘real story’.

In China, the media is perennially nationalistic and conforming to the state which owns the media; dissent or contrasting ideas, opinions and facts are either smuggled out through the social media platforms (which face strict censorship once dissent is spotted) or are published by some foreign media who base their research on sources embedded within the Chinese society or collect data from short-lived Chinese social media accounts. An example of this can be drawn from the fact that the Australian media organisation The Klaxon, which conducted a year-long investigation by Chinese social media researchers, published a report stating that at least 38 Chinese soldiers died in the Galwan Valley clash, contrary to the Chinese government’s claim of four casualties only.

Contrasting narratives of conflict

Political, structural, economic, and cultural issues often influence and guide media narratives and journalism practices. Several previous studies around print media narratives have shown the power relations at work in constructing and disseminating information. The mainstream Indian media, a section of which has mostly been a subject of the nationalist government’s monopolistic control, has often served the ends of the dominant elite. Dominant political narratives and media narratives have often resonated where nationalism was used as a keyframe in conflict-reporting of the Sino-Indian border clash.

Democratic India also allowed room for the media organisations critical of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to report the 2020 Sino-Indian conflict critically, deviating from the majoritarian media practice of toeing the government line. The primary sources of information, however, remain unchanged as the actual conflict was largely opaque, with hardly any avenue to learn the exact sequence of events as the conflict unfolded in the darkness of the night of 15 June 2020. Some of these media organisations also relied on reports published in the leading Western media.

They analyzed satellite images from US-based space technology firm Maxar Technologies and earth-imaging company Planet Labs to highlight Chinese military build-up and construction of roads in the Galwan Valley. Reporting of the Galwan conflict and the media narratives that were constructed around it were distinctly different in the Indian media ecosystem, which was circulated domestically than it was in the state-controlled Chinese media ecosystem; however, nationalism remained an important frame in the democratic media landscape.

Nationalism A Dominant Frame In Global Media NarrativesNationalism, in the case of the United States, is also a significant frame used by media organizations to project their own nation’s image to the rest of the world. While some media organisations in the US can be identified as being aggressively nationalistic (we see that in the media organizations’ coverage of reports that helped President Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential elections, for example, Fox News), others are more balanced, accurate and unbiased such as the CNN or The Wall Street Journal. This does not, however, prevent these media organizations from identifying themselves with values and principles that they uphold as the identity of their ‘great’ nation. Equality, rule of law, representative democracy, freedom of speech, individualism, and patriotism often resonate in the media reports from these revered organizations. Ironically, some of these values are put on the back burner when media organizations of international repute, reverence, and credibility in the US report on developments that contradict their country’s geopolitical goals.

Double standards in coverage

The fact that nationalism seeps into the ways in which some of the best media organisations in the world cover global incidents can be understood if one pays close attention to the US media coverage of two ongoing conflicts that have plagued the world. Coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which escalated on 22 February 2022, and the coverage of the Hamas-Israel conflict, which broke out after Hamas attacked on 7 October 2023, as being witnessed in the mainstream US media organizations, re-establish the fact that not only nationalism but a mix of nationalism with a capitalist veneer helps in advancing geopolitical ambitions.

A close analysis indicates the hierarchy of geopolitical influences marked by double standards in covering such issues as human rights and racial equality witnessed during the two invasions: one undertaken by an old adversary of the United States (Russia) and another by a staunch US ally (Israel).

Chinese President Xi Jinping has often said on several occasions that China needs to tell its story well. This has also become the mantra in mainstream media organisations in countries that, unlike China, have democratically elected governments. Nationalism is a dominant frame that the media uses in each of these three countries – India, China and the US – in diverse variants and in methods that are complex and intricate to understand and surely worth intellectual investigation.

(The author is a PhD scholar at Hong Kong Baptist University. Views are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected]) Read more at: https://www.southasiamonitor.org/medley/nationalism-dominant-frame-global-media-narratives-india-no-exception

Fox News Voter Analysis Predicts Disastrous Defeat For Trump

A Fox News contributor predicted that Donald Trump will lose the 2024 election because of the significant number of Republican voters who backed Nikki Haley.

Marc Thiessen, the former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said that the results of the GOP primaries suggest that the former president will lose to President Joe Biden in November if he cannot sweep up the voters who backed Haley.

“Nikki Haley won 2.9 million votes in the primary so far. Our Fox News voter analysis shows that somewhere between five in 10 and six in 10 of those Nikki Haley voters said they won’t vote for Trump in November,” Thiessen said.

“If even a fraction of those voters deliver on that promise and stay home or vote third party or just split their votes or something, Trump loses.”

Fox News Voter Analysis Predicts Disastrous Defeat For Trump (FOX)However, others feel differently. According to The Hill, Trump has reasons to be optimistic. He almost never led in any polls during the 2020 election cycle, yet he still came within a few thousand votes of pulling off a second narrow Electoral College victory. In contrast, he now leads in nearly every national poll. He also leads or ties Biden in every important swing state.

Though the numbers are pitted against a Biden win in November, there are more chances for Trump to lose than Biden. The 2024 election has favorable winds for Republicans, with an unpopular president embracing unpopular policies. But nothing is a given for Republicans.

As Nikki Haley said after bowing out of the race last week, Trump has to expand his base of support, and so far, he hasn’t done anything to that end. It will be enough for some people that he is not Joe Biden, but even that won’t be enough to win. For every person motivated to vote against Biden, there is at least one and possibly more motivated to vote against Trump. This is, at best, a zero-sum game, not a pathway to victory.

Indian American Women’s Inspiring Leadership

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s tenacious battle for the presidency of the US is a symbol of Indian American women’s emergence as a powerhouse in politics and society even though she dropped her Sisyphean quest two days before International Women’s Day.

On the other side of the political divide, US Vice President Kamala Harris is set for another run for the vice presidency alongside President Joe Biden, having notched the record of the first woman elected to the position that is just a heartbeat away from the world’s most powerful job.

While the two women have the highest profiles in politics, many Indian American women shine across the spectrum of politics, government, business and beyond.

They have soared into space, headed multinational corporations, led universities, and showing their versatility, served undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and even took the Miss America crown.

Although overrun by former President Donald Trump, Nikki Haley made her mark by standing up to him while other competitors folded and she struck out a line of Republican politics that could have a wider appeal.

She put her stamp on politics by getting a significant chunk of votes – estimated at about 25 per cent of those cast in the Republican primaries till she quit – winning in one state, Vermont, and in Washington, the federal District of Columbia.

She also has the distinction of being elected twice as the governor of South Carolina, the first woman and the first non-White person to head the state, and the first Indian American to be a member of the US cabinet when she was the permanent representative to the United Nations, a post with cabinet rank.

Kamala Harris made her mark as California’s attorney general lofting her to the Senate where her work got her national recognition, paving the way to the second most powerful job in the US, the vice president.

She is the first woman to become vice president and she was also the first person of Indian descent elected to the US Senate.

Pramila Jayapal, who heads the Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives, is the other politically powerful Indian American woman.

What helps them shatter glass ceilings despite their being women and, on top of that, women of color with immigrant backgrounds is a society that values merit as it steadily tries to bring down barriers to women’s advancement.

And they are not dynasts or nepobabies, either, and they got to where they are through their own merit.

As Nikki Haley said on Wednesday while announcing she was ending her race, “Just last week, my mother, a first-generation immigrant, got to vote for her daughter for president – only in America”.

In business, Indra Nooyi created a legend of her own as the CEO of Pepsico, a multinational corporation with over 300,000 employees operating in over 200 countries having a revenue of $62 billion in her final year heading it.

By the time she left in 2018 after 12 years as CEO, she boosted its annual profits from $2.5 billion to $6.7 billion as she chartered a new, more diversified course for the company.

Revathi Advaithi is the CEO of Flex, a global diversified company that is the third-largest globally in electronics manufacturing services.

She also serves on the US government’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Padmasree Warrior, who blazed a trail as chief technology officer for marquee technology companies Motorola and Cisco and as the US CEO of the Chinese electric vehicle company Nio, is now the CEO of a startup Fable.

In academia, there are scores of Indian American Women heading departments and schools.

Among them are heads of large universities, Neeli Bendapudi, the president of Pennsylvania State University and Renu Khator, the chancellor of the University of Houston System.

Asha Rangappa, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent-turned-academic, has served as an associate dean of Yale University Law School.

Indian American women have soared into space as astronauts.

Kalpana Chawla, a mission specialist and robotic arms operator, was killed on her second mission when the space shuttle Columbia broke up as it reentered the earth’s atmosphere in 2003.

Sunita Williams has done a stint as the commander of the International Space Station (ISS), on one of her four missions at the multinational orbiting research facility.

The Bhagwad Gita and the Upanishad went to space with Williams, who said that for inspiration she took them along to the ISS, from where she conducted spacewalks.

On Earth as a Navy officer, Sunita Williams was deployed during the first Gulf War and later she became a test pilot.

While the other two were on NASA space missions, aeronautical engineer Sirisha Bandla went up on a spacecraft of the private venture by Virgin Galactic, where she is a vice president.

Geeta Gopinath is the first managing director of the International Monetary Fund, having made her mark as an economist in the Ivy League and as the organization’s chief economist.

In the US judiciary, there are several Indian American women, among them Neomi Rao, a judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is considered the most influential court below the Supreme Court.

The Biden administration has deployed Indian American Women in senior positions across government.

The most visible of them on media after Kamala Harris is Defense Department’s Deputy Spokesperson Sabrina Singh who often conducts the Pentagon’s media briefings laying out the administration’s strategic positions.

Also at that department, Radha Iyengar Plumb is the deputy under-secretary of defense.

At the White House, Neera Tanden, a veteran of Democratic Party campaigns, is an assistant to the president and domestic policy advisor.

Arati Prabhakar is the assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Science Advisor while heading the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and to the President.

Shanthi Kalathil is a deputy assistant to the President and the National Security Council’s coordinator for democracy and human rights.

At the State Department, Uzra Zeya is the under-secretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, and Rao Gupta is the ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.

And, in the other party, Harmeet Dhillon is a member Republican National Committee who ran an unsuccessful insurgent campaign to replace the chair, Ronna McDaniel. She is a co-chair of Women for Trump and Lawyers for Trump, groups that advocate for Trump.

In an unusual occupation was Sabrina De Souza who had served in a senior role as an undercover Central Intelligence Agency agent.

Unfortunately, her cover was blown while she was on an anti-terrorism mission in Italy and that country has tried to prosecute her for capturing a terrorist who was taken to the US.

On the other side, showing the diversity of political views, Gitanjali S. Gutierrez worked as a lawyer defending an alleged terrorist held by the US detention center on Guantanamo Bay.

On the trade unions front, Bhairavi Desai is the executive director of the Taxi Drivers’ Alliance, and Saru Jayaraman has organized restaurant workers in New York City.

In entertainment, Vera Mindy Chokalingam, better known as Mindy Kaling, made her mark with the sitcom, The Mindy Kaling Project, which she created, produced and starred in.

Biden awarded her the National Medal of the Arts in 2022. And, further into the unexpected venues, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America in 2014. (IANS)

Biden Unveils Budget Proposal: Tax Hikes for Corporations, Benefits for Middle Class

President Biden is set to reveal his budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year on Monday, proposing tax hikes for major corporations and advocating for a minimum 25 percent tax rate for billionaires.

The proposed budget for fiscal 2025, as outlined by the White House, aims to slash the federal deficit by approximately $3 trillion over a decade primarily through increased taxation on the wealthiest Americans and corporate entities. Additionally, the budget seeks to tighten regulations on corporate profit distribution.

A spokesperson from the White House noted that the budget aims to decrease taxes for numerous low- and middle-income households, alongside initiatives to reduce the expenses associated with childcare, prescription medications, housing, and utilities.

Furthermore, the proposal includes provisions to fortify Medicare and Social Security, aligning with several other administration priorities such as allocating funds to combat climate change, support small businesses, implement national paid leave policies, and advance cancer research.

In many respects, the upcoming proposal mirrors last year’s budget put forth by the White House, which also targeted a $3 trillion deficit reduction, intensified taxes for billionaires, and heightened the Medicare tax for individuals earning over $400,000 annually.

Traditionally, budget requests do not translate directly into law, and Biden’s proposal will likely follow suit, given the Republican control in the House and the Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate.

However, the submission will hold significant weight in the discussions revolving around raising the debt ceiling and financing government operations this year. Additionally, it will serve as a pivotal messaging tool for the White House as Biden pursues reelection.

During his recent State of the Union address and subsequent campaign appearances in Pennsylvania and Georgia, the president highlighted his administration’s strides in deficit reduction, dismissing notions that former President Trump could effectively address the national debt.

Biden has consistently pledged to safeguard Medicare and Social Security, a cornerstone of his appeal to voters, adamantly stating his intention to veto any congressional endeavors aimed at reducing these programs.

Although Trump, presumed to be Biden’s adversary in the forthcoming election, has publicly declared his commitment to maintaining Social Security and Medicare, his budget proposals during his tenure featured reductions in these programs.

Growing Doubts Over Biden’s Mental Fitness Set Stage for State of the Union Showdown

A recent poll indicates a growing skepticism among U.S. adults regarding President Joe Biden’s cognitive abilities, with many considering his upcoming State of the Union address to be a live evaluation for a potential second term. The survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveals that approximately 6 out of 10 individuals express little to no confidence in Biden’s mental aptitude to effectively fulfill his presidential duties, marking a slight uptick from January 2022 when roughly half of the respondents shared similar concerns. Concurrently, nearly 60% also harbor doubts about the mental capacity of former President Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate at 77 years old.

The looming 2024 election presents a scenario where voters perceive a contest for the demanding role of the presidency between two individuals well beyond conventional retirement age. The next president will confront the daunting tasks of navigating global conflicts, resolving domestic crises, and managing a gridlocked Congress.

Biden is anticipated to address these challenges and more in his forthcoming State of the Union speech on Thursday, aiming to persuade Americans of his suitability for another term. However, the president enters this critical juncture with only 38% of U.S. adults approving of his performance, while a majority of 61% disapprove. Notably, Democrats exhibit a significantly higher approval rate at 74%, in stark contrast to independents at 20% and Republicans at a mere 6%. Nevertheless, dissatisfaction spans across various domains including the economy, immigration, and foreign policy.

While approximately 40% of Americans endorse Biden’s handling of healthcare, climate change, abortion policy, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, fewer express satisfaction with his management of immigration (29%), the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (31%), and the economy (34%). These issues are poised to feature prominently in his address before Congress.

A prevailing sentiment among 57% of Americans is that the national economy has worsened under Biden’s tenure compared to before he assumed office in 2021. Merely 30% believe the economy has improved under his leadership, although 54% express optimism regarding their personal finances.

The survey respondents evince deep-seated pessimism about their electoral choices in November, citing concerns over age and the potential for cognitive decline. One respondent, 84-year-old Paul Miller, asserts that both Biden and Trump are too old for the presidency, expressing disillusionment with his previous vote for Trump and an aversion to supporting either candidate in the upcoming election.

The president’s age becomes a focal point of scrutiny following unflattering portrayals of his mental state in a special counsel’s report. Despite Biden’s attempts to alleviate concerns through humor and deflecting attention to Trump’s own verbal missteps, his age remains a liability that overshadows his policy achievements.

A notable shift is observed within the Democratic camp, with one-third of Democrats expressing doubts about Biden’s mental acuity, compared to just 14% in January 2022. Independents pose a significant risk for Biden, with 80% expressing lack of confidence in his mental abilities, surpassing the 56% who doubt Trump’s capabilities.

Republicans generally exhibit greater confidence in Trump’s mental fitness, with 59% expressing high confidence in his abilities, while a notable portion, 20%, harbor doubts. Notably, irrespective of party affiliation, a consensus emerges regarding the perceived inadequacy of the opposing party’s nominee.

Biden’s policy agenda struggles to resonate with everyday Americans amidst the cacophony of daily life. For instance, Sharon Gallagher, a 66-year-old from Sarasota, Florida, who voted for Biden in 2020, voices concerns about inflation and perceives insufficient action from the administration to address economic challenges. Similarly, Justin Tjernlund, a 40-year-old from Grand Rapids, Michigan, expresses lukewarm confidence in Biden’s mental state but is drawn to Trump’s personality, finding him “interesting” and “refreshing.”

In light of the candidates’ advanced ages, some voters like 62-year-old Greg Olivo from Valley City, Ohio, prioritize scrutinizing Vice President Kamala Harris and Trump’s potential running mate, acknowledging the possibility of their ascension to the presidency within the next term.

Ultimately, the upcoming State of the Union address serves as a pivotal moment for Biden to confront doubts regarding his mental capabilities and rally support for a potential second term. However, with widespread skepticism persisting across party lines, the road ahead remains fraught with uncertainty.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Trump: States Cannot Enforce 14th Amendment, Keeping Him on GOP Ballot

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in favor of Donald Trump regarding his eligibility to seek the Republican presidential nomination under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in light of his actions during the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. The unanimous decision overturned a prior ruling in Colorado that aimed to remove Trump from the ballot, asserting that only Congress holds the authority to enforce Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates, not individual states.

The court emphasized that the power to enforce the provision lies exclusively with Congress, extending its decision to apply nationwide to federal offices. It clarified that while states can disqualify individuals from holding state office, they lack the constitutional authority to enforce Section 3 with regard to federal offices, particularly the presidency. The justices expressed concerns about the potential chaos and inconsistency that could arise if states were allowed to independently determine a candidate’s eligibility for federal office, highlighting the necessity for a uniform approach.

Trump hailed the ruling as a significant victory for the nation, praising the court’s decision and its potential to foster national unity. He asserted that the responsibility for removing a candidate lies with the voters, not the courts. The timing of the decision, just before Colorado’s Super Tuesday primary, holds notable implications for the ongoing electoral process.

However, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision, arguing that states should retain the authority to determine the qualifications of presidential candidates. Despite the court’s unanimity on the outcome, there were dissenting opinions from the liberal justices who disagreed with the majority’s assertion that only Congress can enforce Section 3. They warned against unnecessary constitutional interpretations, emphasizing the need for a resolution that upholds federalism principles.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett echoed similar sentiments in her concurring opinion, underscoring the importance of unanimity amidst politically charged circumstances. She stressed that the court’s decision resolved the immediate issue at hand and cautioned against exacerbating divisions during a contentious election season.

Noah Bookbinder, President of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, argued that while the court’s ruling technically allowed Trump back on the ballot, it did not absolve him of responsibility for his actions. He maintained that various judicial bodies have consistently characterized the events of January 6 as an insurrection incited by Trump, underscoring the importance of accountability moving forward.

Extravagant Pre-Wedding Bash Unites Billionaires, Bollywood, and Rihanna in Indian Splendor

If the golf courses appeared a bit less populated this weekend, it’s likely because some of the world’s wealthiest individuals gathered for the pre-wedding festivities of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in the Indian city of Jamnagar. The son of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Anant, is set to marry Radhika this summer, marking an opulent celebration that rivals those of his siblings. The event boasted a Rihanna performance, an extensive dress code spanning nine pages, and notable personalities such as Mark Zuckerberg.

The Nuptial Couple:

Anant Ambani, the youngest scion of Mukesh Ambani, and Radhika Merchant are set to tie the knot. Mukesh, the ninth-richest person globally and the wealthiest in Asia, heads Reliance Industries, a conglomerate with interests in oil, textiles, telecommunications, and entertainment. Radhika, hailing from a wealthy background herself, is the daughter of Viren Merchant, CEO of Encore Healthcare.

Star-Studded Guest List:

The celebration played host to a guest list that read like a who’s who of the business world, featuring renowned figures such as Bill Gates, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Disney CEO Bob Iger. Notably, Rihanna graced the event with a performance for which she reportedly received around $9 million. Other attendees included David Blaine, Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, and even Ivanka Trump (though Hillary Clinton’s attendance remained uncertain).

Historical Precedent:

This extravagant celebration follows in the footsteps of Anant’s elder siblings. Isha Ambani’s wedding in 2018 featured a performance by Beyoncé, while her twin brother’s nuptials in 2019 included a pre-wedding bash with Coldplay and the Chainsmokers. It seems being an Ambani guarantees a musical extravaganza.

Rihanna’s Showstopper:

Videos circulating online suggest that Rihanna’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. The singer performed hits like “Work,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and “Stay,” making it a night to remember for the guests.

Beyond Business:

Amidst lavish dinners featuring 500 dishes prepared by 100 chefs, the festivities took a philanthropic turn with a visit to an animal-rescue center run by Reliance. Anant, known for his passion for animals, has transformed the center into a haven for rescued animals, including one of the world’s largest elephant hospitals.

The dress code for various events spanned nine pages, incorporating themes like “jungle fever” and traditional Indian garb. Guests were treated to a visually stunning array of outfits, with Mark Zuckerberg’s flashy attire drawing attention and Bill Gates donning a tasteful Champagne-colored Jodhpuri suit for his first Indian wedding experience.

Ivanka Trump’s Instagram Chronicles:

Ivanka Trump, not one to miss an opportunity, shared multiple Instagram posts showcasing her various outfits and providing glimpses into the festivities. One notable post featured a high-speed Ferris wheel, sparking curiosity about the unconventional entertainment at the event.

Steaming Sartorial Solutions

Even amidst such grandeur, practical details surfaced. The dress code included a directive for a three-hour turnaround time for clothes requiring steaming, with a firm note emphasizing the feasibility of adhering to this timeline. The laundry team, it seems, established clear boundaries even in the midst of such opulence.

In essence, the pre-wedding celebration of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant emerged as a fusion of extravagance, star power, and philanthropy, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of opulent matrimonial festivities.

President Biden Draws Contrasts, Asserts Vision in State of the Union Address

In what is anticipated to be one of the most widely-watched speeches preceding the upcoming Democratic convention, President Joe Biden utilized his State of the Union address in Washington on Thursday to delineate a stark contrast between the achievements and priorities of his administration and those of his Republican predecessor, former President Donald Trump.

Touching upon various subjects, Biden addressed abortion rights, the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, and the border crisis, placing blame on Republicans for their lack of cooperation. This pivotal speech occurs at a crucial juncture for the 81-year-old President and re-election candidate, facing skepticism about his age and fitness for a second term, compounded by internal party criticism regarding his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Biden aimed to assure the public of his vitality and determination, dismissing suggestions of frailty, even engaging in occasional exchanges with Republican hecklers in the audience.

Opening his speech with an appeal to far-right members of Congress to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, Biden argued for continued assistance to Kyiv, emphasizing the need for long-range missiles, ammunition, and artillery. Despite House Speaker Mike Johnson’s applause, there remains resistance within his party to legislation providing $60 billion for Ukraine.

Biden, without directly naming his Republican counterpart, criticized Trump and referenced the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol as the “gravest threat to U.S. democracy since the Civil War.” Emphasizing the need for a united love for the country, Biden aimed to distinguish himself from his predecessor.

Reaffirming his commitment to codifying Roe v. Wade if re-elected with Democratic majorities, Biden criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark ruling two years ago. Reproductive rights took center stage, reflecting its growing importance in the upcoming election year, with attendees including individuals affected by reproductive care restrictions and Democratic women lawmakers wearing white to signify their commitment to “Fighting for Reproductive Freedom.”

The topic of the border ignited controversy, with Biden accusing Republicans of abandoning a bipartisan border security deal. He responded assertively to groans and boos, defending the proposed bill and challenging his predecessor to support it. However, some progressive Democrats expressed disappointment over his use of the term “illegal” in reference to migrants.

Addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict, Biden faced pressure from progressive Democrats to de-escalate the situation. He announced efforts towards an immediate ceasefire, emphasizing humanitarian aid for Gaza and urging Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prioritize protecting innocent lives. Progressives praised his mention of the humanitarian crisis but called for tangible actions.

The economy took center stage in an extended portion of Biden’s speech, where he highlighted accomplishments, including historic job growth and decreasing inflation. He asserted his identity as a capitalist but advocated for a “billionaire tax” and increased taxes on large corporations, setting the stage for a stark difference between the two political parties in his re-election bid.

Biden concluded by addressing concerns about his age, emphasizing the importance of forward-thinking ideas for the nation’s future. Despite intensified scrutiny over his age and memory, he positioned himself as a leader with a vision for the possibilities of America, emphasizing the need to move beyond antiquated ideas.

Flaunting Wealth Amidst Global Crisis: Inside the Lavish Ambani Pre-Wedding Extravaganza

They argue that while money can’tpurchase affection, it can undoubtedly fund a lavish pre-wedding extravaganza. The world’s elite are presently recuperating from a three-day spectacle in India celebrating the imminent marriage of Anant Ambani, the youngest offspring of Asia’s wealthiest individual.

The celebration, reportedly priced at $120 million, epitomized extravagance: it boasted a detailed nine-page attire guideline, an exclusive performance by Rihanna, and a banquet that even Nero might have deemed excessive.

“Twenty-one chefs concocted ’75 types of dishes for breakfast, more than 225 types of dishes for lunch, 275 types of dishes for dinner, and 85 types of items … [for] the midnight meal,'” elaborated the Times of India. The aim was to ensure that none of the guests, among them Mark Zuckerberg, Ivanka Trump, and Bill Gates, would experience the indignity of eating the same meal twice.

While the notion of outrageously affluent individuals indulging in exorbitant activities isn’t novel, the conspicuousness of the Ambani pre-wedding gala is noteworthy. It was so extravagant that even the Daily Mail, not typically associated with leftist views, penned a dismayed article highlighting that the lavish celebrations occurred “just yards from where some of the poorest people on earth eke out a living.”

Flaunting Wealth Amidst Global Crisis Inside the Lavish Ambani Pre Wedding Extravaganza

The stark contrast between multimillion-dollar feasts and Gujarati slums wasn’t the sole disconcerting aspect of the event. In recent times, there has been a noticeable shift towards “stealth wealth” or “quiet luxury.” The ultra-rich have opted for more understated displays of their immense wealth, signaling affluence through subtle status symbols rather than ostentatious labels. However, the Ambani festivities deviated from this trend, representing a bold return to the overt excess and conspicuous consumption reminiscent of the 1980s.

Admittedly, the Ambani family has never adhered to the understated luxury trend. They have consistently flaunted their wealth. For instance, in 2018, Beyoncé performed at Isha Ambani’s pre-wedding festivities—an affair estimated to cost around $100 million. Moreover, the family resides in Antilia, a 27-story tower recognized as the world’s first billion-dollar residence. This is no ordinary mansion; it boasts three helipads, a 168-car garage, and a snow room for cooling down amid artificial snowflakes. With nine elevators, it epitomizes opulence. “This is a gated community in the sky,” remarked author Gyan Prakash as Antilia was constructed overlooking Mumbai’s slums. “It is in a way reflective of how the rich are turning their faces away from the city.”

Nevertheless, while the Ambanis have always flaunted their wealth, this wedding signifies a shift in societal trends. It wasn’t just the bride and groom embracing ostentation; even figures like Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, who have championed philanthropy and advocated for a more equitable world, didn’t hesitate to display their materialistic inclinations. A viral video captured the couple admiring the groom’s $1 million Richard Mille watch. “This watch is fantastic,” exclaimed Chan. “That’s soo cool!”Flaunting Wealth Amidst Global Crisis Inside the Lavish Ambani Pre Wedding Extravaganza

Zuckerberg concurred, adding, “You know, I never really wanted to get a watch, but after seeing that, I was like, ‘Watches are cool.'”

The tech mogul wasn’t the only one attracting attention. Bill Gates, also vocal about his intentions to address global issues, shared a video featuring the internet-famous tea-seller Dolly Chaiwala serving him tea. While Gates likely intended it as a lighthearted celebration of innovation, it exuded uncomfortable colonial undertones.

Inequality, exacerbated by the pandemic, has reached unprecedented levels, with the wealth chasm continuing to widen. As Oxfam recently observed, we inhabit a “decade of division,” with successive crises accentuating the gap between the oligarchic few and the vast majority. Are these oligarchs not concerned about flaunting their wealth in front of the masses? Are they oblivious to the optics of reveling in luxury while even middle-class Americans struggle to put food on the table? They’ve undoubtedly been cautioned about the optics of inequality. At a London event last year, members of the global elite were warned of a “real risk of actual insurrection” if inequality persisted, and they were advised to be wary of “pitchforks and torches.”

However, if the flamboyance of the Ambani pre-wedding affair signifies anything, it’s that those born into privilege aren’t particularly perturbed by the prospect of public backlash. And why should they be? They possess underground doomsday bunkers to retreat to if things go awry. The Ambani spectacle appears to herald the demise of stealth wealth, signaling that billionaires no longer feel compelled to feign concern about inequality and are shamelessly embracing ostentatious luxury. Once again, the 1,200-person soirée was merely a prelude to the grand event in July—only time will tell what extravagant measures they’ll undertake or how the wedding could possibly surpass the pre-party. We mere mortals can only anticipate and speculate.

 

Biden and Trump Poised for 2024 Presidential Rematch

In what seems like a deja vu scenario, the upcoming presidential ballot in November is gearing up to showcase a familiar showdown between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

“After Super Tuesday, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the rematch almost nobody anticipated is on the horizon,” with Trump dominating the GOP contests in 15 states and one territory, leaving only Vermont unconquered and positioning himself within reach of securing the Republican nomination, as his sole remaining GOP contender, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, exits the race.

Meanwhile, Biden is set to deliver his State of the Union address, using the occasion to kickstart his election-year agenda, focusing once again on the importance of upholding democratic institutions.

However, despite the sense of familiarity, the 2024 campaign is not merely a replay of the events from four years ago. Evolving candidates and global dynamics are reshaping the political landscape, presenting new hurdles, particularly for Biden.

Trump wasted no time in targeting Biden during his victory speech at Mar-a-Lago, dubbing him “the worst president in the history of our country” and indicating the proximity of the November election. Biden, in his response, emphasized the readiness of voters to resist Trump’s regressive agenda.

One significant difference in the 2024 race is the matchup of incumbents. Unlike in 2020, where Trump held the incumbent position, this time, both candidates hold incumbency status, altering the dynamics of their campaign strategies and critiques.

For instance, Biden’s stance on immigration has shifted from campaign promises of a more compassionate approach to addressing the current surge of asylum seekers at the southern border. Trump’s advantage on this issue is notable, as highlighted by an NBC News poll indicating a significant preference for Trump over Biden in handling immigration matters.

Similarly, Biden’s foreign policy credentials have come under scrutiny, particularly following the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the divisive response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These incidents have sparked dissent within the Democratic Party and have been exploited by Trump to undermine Biden’s leadership image.

While Trump’s bombastic rhetoric remains, his diminished social media presence following the Twitter ban in 2021 has reduced the immediacy and visibility of his attacks, potentially lessening their impact. Additionally, his ability to maintain staunch support despite legal challenges suggests a consolidation of his core base.

Age is another factor playing a role in the campaign discourse, with both candidates facing questions about their mental and physical fitness for office. While Biden’s age was less of an issue in 2020, being the oldest president elected in U.S. history, it has become a more prominent point of contention in the current race.

While the 2024 presidential race may seem like a replay of the past, subtle shifts in candidates, issues, and publicperceptionare shaping a distinct electoral landscape, presenting both challenges and opportunities for Biden and Trump alike.

 

Judge Grants Temporary Order Allowing Trump Business Operations Amid Appeal

The judge has granted a temporary order permitting Trump and his sons to continue operating their business as they appeal against the decision. This move precedes the full Appeals Court’s consideration of the motion. According to the schedule, James is required tosubmit a brief to the panel by March 11, with Trump’s replies expected by March 18.

This decision follows a ruling by New York Judge Arthur Engoron earlier in February, following a lengthy trial that commenced in October and emerged from James’ lawsuit alleging that the former president exaggerated his assets and engaged in fraudulent activities.

Engoron found Trump and other defendants accountable for various offenses, including “persistent and repeated fraud,” “falsifying business records,” “issuing false financial statements,” “conspiracy to falsify false financial statements,” “insurance fraud,” and “conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.”

Judge Grants Temporary Order Allowing Trump Business Operations Amid Appeal

Additionally, the judge prohibited Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump from holding positions as officers or directors of any New York corporation or legal entity in New York for a period of two years.

Engoron also imposed “permanent” bans on defendants Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, and former corporate controller Jeffrey McConney. They are prohibited from serving in financial control roles of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State for three years, as well as from acting as directors of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York.

James initiated the lawsuit accusing Trump and the Trump Organization of fraudulent business practices. The legal proceedings were marked by contention, with Engoronfrequently imposing a partial gag order on Trump to prevent him from disparaging court personnel.

Judge Grants Temporary Order Allowing Trump Business Operations Amid Appeal

James had sought $370 million, plus 9% interest in penalties from Trump. Any damages awarded would be directed to the New York State Treasury, unless otherwise instructed by the state comptroller.

Trump consistently denounced the trial as a “witch hunt,” alleging that both Engoron and James were acting as political operatives for the Democrats. His legal team criticized the absence of a jury in the trial.

“There was never an option to choose a jury trial,” a spokesperson for Trump told Fox News Digital last month. “It is unfortunate that a jury won’t be able to hear how absurd the merits of this case are and conclude no wrongdoing ever happened.”

Trump and his family refuted any allegations of wrongdoing, with the former president asserting that his assets had been undervalued. His legal team emphasized that his financial statements included disclaimers, and that banks were advised to conduct their own evaluations.

Trump insisted that his financial statements were “perfect,” highlighting that bank loans were repaid and expressing satisfaction with the outcomes.

Throughout the trial, Trump’s attorneys presented witnesses, including former top executives from Deutsche Bank, who testified that the banks actively pursued additional business from Trump, whom they considered a valuable client.Judge Grants Temporary Order Allowing Trump Business Operations Amid Appeal

Trump’s defense also enlisted expert witnesses, such as New York University accounting professor Eli Bartov, who examined the Trump financial statements under scrutiny and found no evidence of accounting fraud.

Bartov testified that Trump’s financial statements adhered to accounting principles and suggested that any irregularities, such as significant year-to-year increases in the estimated value of his Trump Tower penthouse, were likely errors.

“My main finding is that there is no evidence whatsoever of any accounting fraud,” Bartov testified. Trump’s financial statements, he asserted, “were not materially misstated.”

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-appeals-court-allows-trump-sons-continue-running-business-denies-request-delay-payment.amp

Tulsi Gabbard Open to Vice President Role with Trump, Signals Departure from Democratic Party

Former Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has expressed her openness to potentially serving as the vice president alongside former President Donald Trump, as indicated during an interview on Fox News. Gabbard stated, “I would be open to that,” in response to a query from host Jesse Watters regarding her willingness to consider a vice presidential position. She emphasized her commitment to serving the nation, stating, “My mission is to serve our country…I wanna be in a position to solve problems, Jesse, and we got a lot of ‘em to solve.”

Former President Trump recently disclosed a roster of potential vice presidential candidates, including Gabbard, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. While Trump affirmed the names on his shortlist, he did not specify the timeline for announcing his running mate, asserting, “all of those people are good. They’re all solid.”

Additionally, Gabbard is scheduled to attend a fundraiser for the 917 Society at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort next week. The event aims to celebrate the Constitution and was detailed in an invitation exclusively shared with The Hill.

Gabbard, a former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, announced her departure from the Democratic Party in late 2022. In a video statement, she criticized the party, stating it was “under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers who are driven by cowardly wokeness.” Urging like-minded Democrats to join her in leaving the party, she emphasized the need for a government that serves the people rather than powerful elites, inviting those who disagree with the direction of the party to unite with her.

A Pivotal Week Unfolds in American Politics

In a week that promises to be pivotal for American politics, the nation braces for a consequential and unprecedented election that challenges established interpretations of the Constitution and presidential powers.

The focus is on a potential landmark ruling by the Supreme Court, expected as early as Monday, regarding the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to exclude former President Donald Trump from the ballot based on the 14th Amendment’s prohibition of insurrectionists. This decision holds immense significance for the ongoing narrative of Trump’s political future.

Simultaneously, the 15-state Super Tuesday GOP primaries loom, where Trump aims to secure a third consecutive Republican nomination. A Trump victory here would signal not just a political comeback but also the potential for a more radical second term.

Contrastingly, President Joe Biden is set to address the nation in his State of the Union speech two nights later, facing skepticism about his fitness for a second term amid global crises and domestic disappointments. The race between Biden and Trump, though dreaded by many Americans according to polls, appears inevitable, barring unexpected events.

This election, scheduled for November, is already testing the resilience of political and electoral institutions, the Constitution, and the nation’s fragile unity. Never before has an election featured a candidate facing multiple criminal trials and running on the false claim of an illegal ousting from power.

The Supreme Court’s potential ruling on the Colorado case hangs in the balance, with uncertainty surrounding the fate of votes for Trump in the Super Tuesday primary if the justices deem him ineligible to serve. Another significant case before the Supreme Court revolves around Trump’s claims of broad presidential immunity, delaying his federal criminal trial over election interference and raising questions about the equality of presidents under the law.

As the political landscape unfolds, Trump’s trajectory towards the Republican nomination gains momentum, marked by victories in Idaho and Missouri caucuses, and securing all Michigan’s delegates. Despite not reaching the required delegates on Tuesday night, Trump is poised to become the presumptive GOP nominee, solidifying his dominance and reshaping the party’s leadership.

While Trump’s campaign exudes confidence and increasingly wild rhetoric, Biden faces challenges highlighted by recent polls. These polls depict public concerns about the direction of the nation, economic benefits, and Biden’s handling of various issues such as the economy, inflation, border security, and international conflicts.

Of particular concern for Biden is the perceptible unease about his age and capacity, as reflected in polls indicating voters questioning his ability to serve effectively. The State of the Union address becomes a critical moment for Biden to project vitality and optimism, countering doubts about his leadership.

Trump’s narrative, on the other hand, revolves around portraying himself as a political dissident facing persecution by the Biden administration, emphasizing the stakes of the Supreme Court case and his aspirations for unchecked political power.

As the week unfolds, the clash between these two figures in American politics becomes more apparent, with each seeking to define the narrative that will shape the upcoming election. The potential rematch between Trump and Biden, despite being dreaded by many, appears increasingly likely, setting the stage for a contest that will test the nation’s democratic foundations and the resilience of its political institutions.

Threats Against Judges Surge Amid Political Fray

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, renowned for his unwavering stance against criminals ranging from drug cartels to al Qaeda, found himself in uncharted territory when he became the target of a torrent of harassment. The onslaught followed his involvement in cases against supporters of former President Donald Trump implicated in the assault on the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election.

Previously accustomed to facing dangers from various criminal factions, Lamberth expressed astonishment at the barrage of threats he encountered amid his judicial proceedings. He recounted how right-wing platforms vilified him, portraying him as part of a “deep state” plot aimed at undermining Trump and his followers. The vitriol escalated to calls for his execution on sympathetic online platforms. “Traitors get ropes,” read one chilling message. Lamberth revealed that his chambers’ voicemail was inundated with death threats after he sentenced a 69-year-old Idaho woman for her involvement in the January 6 riot. He even received graphic death threats at his home phone number.

The escalation of threats against judicial figures is part of a broader pattern observed since Trump’s emergence as a political force in 2015. A Reuters analysis revealed a staggering increase in threatening communications directed at federal courts and personnel, rising from an average of 1,180 incidents in the decade preceding Trump’s presidential bid to 3,810 in the seven years following his entry into politics. The situation reached unprecedented levels, with nearly 27,000 threatening and harassing communications recorded by the U.S. Marshals Service between 2015 and 2022.

Trump’s combative rhetoric against the judiciary, prosecutors, and other officials involved in legal proceedings against him has fueled a culture of intimidation. His characterization of judges as biased and corrupt, coupled with his demonization of the judicial system, has contributed to an environment where threats against judges have become increasingly commonplace. Even after leaving office, Trump’s public comments continue to incite hostility towards judges handling cases related to him.

While the surge in threats is alarming, the response from law enforcement has been limited. The U.S. Justice Department does not systematically track prosecutions for threats against judges, and arrests remain infrequent. The difficulty in distinguishing between protected speech and criminal threats poses a challenge for authorities tasked with addressing the issue. Despite the gravity of the threats, many menacing messages fall short of meeting the legal threshold for criminal charges.

The repercussions of this wave of threats extend beyond individual judges to the broader functioning of the judicial system. Judges, who traditionally faced threats from aggrieved parties directly involved in cases, now contend with a deluge of threats stemming from politically charged disputes. The erosion of judicial independence poses a significant threat to the foundational principles of American democracy.

The impact of these threats reverberates throughout the legal community, with judges expressing concern over the chilling effect it may have on judicial independence. In particular, judges hearing politically sensitive cases find themselves increasingly vulnerable to harassment and intimidation. The need for enhanced protections for judges has become imperative to safeguard the integrity of the judicial process.

Despite the daunting challenges posed by the current climate, judges remain committed to upholding the rule of law. However, the escalating threats underscore the urgent need for robust measures to protect judicial officials and preserve the impartiality of the judiciary. As the political landscape continues to evolve, the resilience of the judicial system in the face of such threats will be critical in safeguarding the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

Supreme Court to Decide on Trump’s Presidential Immunity in Historic Case

The Supreme Court has taken up the matter of whether former President Trump could face criminal prosecution for his endeavors to overturn the results of the 2020 election, presenting a pivotal case that scrutinizes the boundaries of presidential immunity.

In a move that temporarily halts the criminal trial proceedings against Trump related to the events of January 6, the Court’s decision delivers an initial setback to Special Counsel Jack Smith while leaving open the possibility for prosecution before the 2024 presidential election.

Trump had urged the Court to delay his trial but defer consideration of his immunity claims until he exhausted his appeals in a lower court, a process that could have prolonged the case and potentially allowed him to return to the White House before facing trial.

However, at the suggestion of Smith, the Supreme Court has chosen to address Trump’s immunity claims promptly. This decision, while not fulfilling Smith’s request to stay out of the case entirely, sets an expedited schedule, with oral arguments scheduled for April 22, and a landmark ruling anticipated by June or earlier.

Legal observers widely anticipate that a ruling against Trump by the conservative-majority Court would pave the way for Smith’s prosecution to proceed, possibly allowing for a trial before the upcoming election.

This legal battle adds another layer to Trump’s ongoing legal challenges, including his imminent trial on hush money charges in New York. The outcome of the immunity dispute could significantly impact Trump’s remaining criminal cases.

In Washington, D.C., Trump faces federal charges related to election interference and classified documents, asserting immunity from prosecution. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear his immunity claims marks the first instance of the Court engaging with any of Trump’s criminal cases since his indictment.

Reacting to the news on Truth Social, Trump expressed gratitude for the Court’s decision, emphasizing the significance of presidential immunity in enabling effective governance

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment on the matter.

The Supreme Court is already grappling with another significant dispute involving Trump, reviewing a Colorado ruling that barred Trump from the state’s ballot under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection ban. The Court’s decision on this matter is expected imminently.

Now, Trump’s legal team is preparing to argue before the Supreme Court that Trump should be immune from prosecution for his alleged election subversion, a claim that has been rejected by lower courts.

The D.C. Circuit panel, in a recent decision, dismissed Trump’s immunity claim, asserting that the presidency does not grant perpetual immunity from prosecution.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, Trump has achieved a victory in delaying his trial, originally scheduled for March 4.

The special counsel has consistently sought to expedite Trump’s immunity claims, emphasizing the importance of a speedy and fair resolution. Smith has urged the Court not to delay any further, citing the national significance of the case.

On the other hand, Trump’s legal team has criticized the special counsel for what they perceive as a politically motivated rush to trial, alleging that Smith aims to secure a conviction before the upcoming election.

The Supreme Court’s decision rejects Trump’s request for further delay and aligns with Smith’s position to expedite the case, underscoring the significant legal battle ahead.

Supreme Court Weighs Urgency in Trump’s Immunity Claim: Timing Sparks Speculation

When special counsel Jack Smith urged the Supreme Court to dismiss former President Donald Trump’s immunity claims, there was a palpable sense of urgency in his plea.

Smith repeatedly emphasized the need to avoid further “delay” in his brief to the court.

Now, following Trump’s petition for the court to intervene in the contentious dispute regarding his immunity from prosecution, and after all necessary briefs were submitted to the justices eight days ago, observers of the court are once again engaged in the timeless pursuit of deciphering significance from the timing and silence.

“The entire population is getting a bit of exposure to one of the perils of watching the court carefully, which is that an awful lot of what it does happens behind the scenes and in ways that can’t be easily predicted,” remarked Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

The Supreme Court could opt to reject Trump’s plea to halt a lower court ruling against his immunity claims, effectively paving the way for Smith’s case to proceed to trial. Alternatively, it might grant Trump’s request and subsequently convene hearings and rule on the merits of the immunity issue, possibly expediting the process. The court could also reach a decision without formal arguments and may or may not issue an opinion elucidating its ruling.

Although the Supreme Court is capable of swift action, particularly within the confines of the judicial branch, the resolution of most significant cases often spans several months. Even cases on the court’s expedited docket can take weeks to be resolved.

What remains evident is the substantial importance attached to the timing of these proceedings. Smith is keen for the court to promptly address Trump’s immunity claim to enable US District Judge Tanya Chutkan to conclude a trial on the former president’s charges related to election subversion before the upcoming November elections. Chutkan had already postponed a previously scheduled trial start on March 4.

Anticipating this scenario, Smith had previously brought the issue before the Supreme Court in December, urging the justices to bypass the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and swiftly address the question of whether a former president can assert immunity from criminal prosecution.

“It is of imperative public importance,” Smith emphasized at the time, stressing the need for prompt resolution and trial proceedings if Trump’s immunity claims were dismissed.

The Supreme Court, however, declined that request, allowing the appeals court to proceed with its review of the case.

Some experts speculate that the longer the Supreme Court deliberates, the more inclined it may be to reject Trump’s petition to halt the DC Circuit ruling. This theory is grounded on the possibility that a conservative justice might be composing an extensive dissent, a process that could consume considerable time.

Trump Triumphs in South Carolina Primary, Haley Vows to Persist in Republican Race

Former President Donald Trump emerged victorious over his primary opponent, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, in the Republican presidential primary held in South Carolina on Saturday. The Associated Press called the race as polls closed statewide, confirming Trump’s win. Despite Trump clinching victory across the state, Haley managed to secure the counties containing the two largest cities, Columbia and Charleston. Having served two terms as governor of South Carolina, Haley currently resides in Charleston County and also claimed victory in Beaufort County, where Hilton Head is located. While Haley garnered three delegates from South Carolina, Trump secured 47, bringing Haley’s total delegate count to 20 compared to Trump’s 110. The road to clinching the Republican presidential nomination requires a candidate to secure 1,215 delegates.

Trump’s triumph in South Carolina was largely anticipated, given his consistent lead in the polls in Haley’s conservative home state throughout the campaign. The AP based its race call on an analysis of a survey of primary voters, affirming Trump’s substantial lead over Haley statewide. Addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters in South Carolina, Trump expressed his satisfaction with the early and resounding win, stating, “This was a little sooner than we expected … an even bigger win than we anticipated.”

On the other hand, Haley, addressing her supporters, acknowledged the upcoming primary elections in various states in the following weeks and affirmed her commitment to remain in the race, asserting voters’ right to a genuine choice in the electoral process. She emphasized, “They have the right to a real choice, not a Soviet-style election with only one candidate,” underscoring her dedication to providing voters with alternative options. Despite her defeat, Haley conveyed her love for the people of South Carolina and reiterated her determination to continue her presidential bid.

In preparation for future primaries, Haley’s campaign announced a substantial national advertising campaign ahead of Super Tuesday on March 5, signaling her persistence in the race despite the setback in South Carolina. She reiterated her commitment to providing an alternative voice in the Republican primaries, emphasizing the desire among a significant number of Republican voters for an alternative to the current options.

Trump, despite facing numerous legal challenges, has maintained a dominant position in the Republican presidential race, having emerged victorious in every contest where his name appeared on the ballot. His victory in South Carolina underscores his enduring popularity among conservative voters, particularly in the Southern states.

Haley’s loss in South Carolina represents a setback in her quest for the Republican nomination, despite considerable investments of both time and resources in the state. Trump’s continued popularity in the South, coupled with his stronghold among conservative voters, poses significant challenges for any contender seeking to challenge his position within the party.

Analyzing the voting patterns in South Carolina provides insights into Haley’s appeal among more moderate voters and those open to alternatives to Trump within the Republican Party. While she garnered significant support in New Hampshire among independent voters, Trump’s dominance prevailed in the primaries. Independent voter Lynda Higgins cited Haley’s effective governance during her tenure as governor as a key factor in her decision to support her candidacy, expressing a desire for a change in leadership due to perceived societal divisions under Trump’s presidency.

Republicans in South Carolina acknowledge the evolving landscape of the party since Haley’s tenure as governor, noting a shift in perspective regarding the role of the president compared to that of a governor or cabinet member. Despite Haley’s commendable campaign efforts, Trump’s entrenched position as the de facto leader of the party presents formidable obstacles for any challenger.

Looking ahead, Trump expressed confidence in upcoming primary contests, including Michigan’s primary scheduled for the following Tuesday. He also anticipated success on Super Tuesday, citing polls indicating widespread support across various states. Trump emphasized the unity within the Republican Party and the ongoing efforts required to secure victory in the forthcoming elections.

CPAC Straw Poll: Noem and Ramaswamy Emerge as Top Picks for Trump’s VP

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy emerged as the top contenders among Republican grassroots activists for former President Trump’s potential vice presidential pick, according to attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). They both garnered 15 percent of the preferences when CPAC attendees were asked about Trump’s potential running mate for the 2024 election. This puts both Noem and Ramaswamy in the spotlight as potential choices for Trump’s vice president. Trump himself confirmed earlier in the week that all individuals rumored to be on his shortlist are considered “solid.”

In the CPAC straw poll conducted on Saturday, former Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard secured the second position with 9 percent, followed closely by House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, both at 8 percent. Representative Byron Donalds from Florida received 7 percent, while Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake obtained 6 percent. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders each garnered 5 percent of the vote. Notably, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, independent presidential candidate Robert K. Kennedy Jr., Senator JD Vance from Ohio, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley each received less than 5 percent of the vote.

Although the CPAC straw poll’s influence on Trump’s decision for his running mate may be minimal, the results are likely to generate increased attention around the top candidates. Noem, Stefanik, and Vance are among the prominent Republican figures present at CPAC and have been mentioned as potential running mates for the former president.

Senator Tim Scott’s presence in South Carolina is particularly noteworthy as the state prepares for its GOP primary, where Trump is expected to outperform Haley, a former governor of the state. According to polling data from The Hill/Decision Desk HQ, Trump holds a commanding lead of 30 points over Haley in her home state.

Survey Shows Split Public Opinion on State Efforts to Exclude Trump from 2024 Ballots

State-level initiatives aimed at excluding former President Trump from the 2024 election ballots are causing a rift among the populace, as indicated by a recent survey.

The study, carried out by Marquette University Law School, unveiled a near-even divide among respondents who had formed an opinion regarding the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling to disqualify Trump from the ballot under the 14th Amendment.

In recent weeks, the United States Supreme Court deliberated on the matter, contemplating whether Trump’s support for the January 6, 2021 insurrection warranted his removal from contention. Justices appeared hesitant to take the drastic measure of disqualifying him.

A notable 31 percent of those surveyed expressed either unfamiliarity with the case or insufficient information to formulate an opinion. Among those who did have a stance, half favored the Supreme Court nullifying the Colorado court’s decision, while the other half opposed such intervention.

The Supreme Court’s intervention followed a ruling by Colorado’s highest court in December, which declared Trump ineligible for inclusion on the state’s primary ballot.

Originally crafted to bar ex-Confederates from regaining power, the 14th Amendment found renewed relevance after the Capitol assault, leading anti-Trump factions to pursue legal avenues nationwide to prevent his potential return to the White House.

The survey painted a picture of limited confidence in the Supreme Court, with only a quarter of respondents expressing “a great deal” of trust, while 35 percent possessed some confidence, and 40 percent harbored little to no faith in the institution.

The Supreme Court’s expedited handling of the case suggests a decision could be imminent, potentially within weeks. Until then, Trump’s name will persist on ballots throughout the nation.

Despite the legal wrangling, Trump maintains his status as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination and is anticipated to engage in a showdown with President Biden in the upcoming general election.

Conducted between February 5 and 15, the survey sampled 1,003 adults, with a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

Biden Campaign Slams Trump’s Last-Place Ranking in Presidential Greatness Survey

President Biden’s reelection campaign strongly criticized former President Trump on Monday for his bottom-ranking performance in a recent survey evaluating presidential greatness.

Trump, widely expected to be Biden’s adversary in the upcoming November election, found himself occupying the lowest position on the list, while Biden was recognized as the 14th-best president in the 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey. The survey, conducted by a panel of experts specializing in the American presidency from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31, placed Trump at the very bottom.

In a statement titled “Happy Presidents’ Day! … Unless You’re Donald Trump,” the Biden campaign expressed no qualms in emphasizing Trump’s last-place standing.

“It takes a lot to be known as the absolute worst in your profession in the history of your country. But Donald Trump managed to do it, and it’s pretty clear why. Donald Trump spent his four years in office working for one thing only: himself,” remarked Kevin Munoz, spokesperson for the Biden campaign.

Highlighting Trump’s position relative to historical figures, the campaign pointed out that he fared worse than President James Buchanan, responsible for leading the U.S. into the Civil War, and President Herbert Hoover, who was in office during the Great Depression.

Munoz emphasized the contrasting approaches of Biden and Trump, portraying Biden as a president dedicated to the well-being of the American populace.

“President Biden wakes up every day fighting for the American people, helping to create more jobs in three years than any president has created in four, and investing in America at record levels,” Munoz stated. “The choice in this election is clear: a president who has consistently delivered for the American people or Donald Trump who experts agree might be the worst to ever do it.”

The survey, conducted by experts in the field, crowned Abraham Lincoln as America’s greatest president. Biden’s ranking placed him ahead of Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Reagan, and Ulysses S. Grant.

Interestingly, former President Obama experienced a notable rise in the rankings, securing the seventh position, eight places higher than in the previous year’s survey.

Nikki Haley Vows to Persist in Presidential Race Despite Trump’s Lead: Refuses to Yield in Republican Primary

Nikki Haley asserted her commitment to persist in the Republican presidential primary race against former President Trump, affirming her determination during an address in Greenville, South Carolina. “I’m not going anywhere,” she declared, emphasizing her readiness to vocalize uncomfortable truths and her refusal to yield to intimidation. She asserted, “I feel no need to kiss the ring… My own political future is of zero concern.” Haley drew parallels between her contest against Trump and the biblical tale of David and Goliath, dismissing speculation that she seeks the vice presidency or is positioning herself for a future presidential bid.

Despite trailing Trump significantly in South Carolina according to The Hill’s Decision Desk HQ polling average, Haley remained resolute. Trump’s campaign had issued a memo suggesting her impending defeat, characterizing her as a “wailing loser” clinging to a false reality. Haley brushed off such assertions, reaffirming her intention to persevere beyond the primary, declaring, “South Carolina will vote on Saturday, but on Sunday I will still be running for president.”

She did not shy away from criticizing both Trump and President Biden, targeting their age and mental acuity, alleging they are “at risk for dementia” and act as “dividers.” Haley highlighted public concerns over their age, stressing, “Nearly 60 percent of Americans say Trump and Biden are both too old to be president.” She accused Biden of self-inflicted harm and criticized Democrats for what she perceives as anointing him rather than engaging in robust competition.

In an emotional moment, Haley choked up as she discussed her husband Michael Haley, currently deployed abroad with the South Carolina Army National Guard. Her remarks followed a jab from Trump questioning why Michael wasn’t accompanying her on the campaign trail.

Despite her trailing position against Trump in South Carolina and nationally, polling data suggests Haley outperforms Biden in a head-to-head matchup, holding a slim lead over the president according to The Hill’s Decision Desk HQ polling average.

India’s Feet of Clay: How Modi’s Supremacy Will Hinder His Country’s Rise

This spring, India is scheduled to hold its 18th general election. Surveys suggest that the incumbent, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is very likely to win a third term in office. That triumph will further underline Modi’s singular stature. He bestrides the country like a colossus, and he promises Indians that they, too, are rising in the world. And yet the very nature of Modi’s authority, the aggressive control sought by the prime minister and his party over a staggeringly diverse and complicated country, threatens to scupper India’s great-power ambitions.

A leader of enormous charisma from a modest

background, Modi dominates the Indian political landscape as only two of his 15 predecessors have done: Jawaharlal Nehru, prime minister from Indian independence in 1947 until 1964, and Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, prime minister from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 to 1984. In their pomp, both enjoyed wide popularity throughout India, cutting across barriers of class, gender, religion, and region, although—as so often with leaders who stay on too long—their last years in office were marked by political misjudgments that eroded their standing.

Nehru and Indira Gandhi both belonged to the Indian National Congress, the party that led the country’s struggle for freedom from British colonial rule and stayed in power for three decades following independence. Modi, on the other hand, is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which spent many years in opposition before becoming what it now appears to be, the natural party of governance. A major ideological difference between the Congress and the BJP is in their attitudes toward the relationship between faith and state. Particularly under Nehru, the Congress was committed to religious pluralism, in keeping with the Indian constitutional obligation to assure citizens “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.” The BJP, on the other hand, wishes to make India a majoritarian state in which politics, public policy, and even everyday life are cast in a Hindu idiom.

Modi is not the first BJP prime minister of India—that distinction belongs to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was in office in 1996 and from 1998 to 2004. But Modi can exercise a kind of power that was never available to Vajpayee, whose coalition government of more than a dozen parties forced him to accommodate diverse views and interests. By contrast, the BJP has enjoyed a parliamentary majority on its own for the last decade, and Modi is far more assertive than the understated Vajpayee ever was. Vajpayee delegated power to his cabinet ministers, consulted opposition leaders, and welcomed debate in Parliament. Modi, on the other hand, has centralized power in his office to an astonishing degree, undermined the independence of public institutions such as the judiciary and the media, built a cult of personality around himself, and pursued his party’s ideological goals with ruthless efficiency.

Despite his dismantling of democratic institutions, Modi remains extremely popular. He is both incredibly hardworking and politically astute, able to read the pulse of the electorate and adapt his rhetoric and tactics accordingly. Left-wing intellectuals dismiss him as a mere demagogue. They are grievously mistaken. In terms of commitment and intelligence, he is far superior to his populist counterparts such as former U.S. President Donald Trump, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, or former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Although his economic record is mixed, he has still won the trust of many poor people by supplying food and cooking gas at highly subsidized rates via schemes branded as Modi’s personal gifts to them. He has taken quickly to digital technologies, which have enabled the direct provision of welfare and the reduction of intermediary corruption. He has also presided over substantial progress in infrastructure development, with spanking new highways and airports seen as evidence of a rising India on the march under Modi’s leadership.

Modi’s many supporters view his tenure as prime minister as nothing short of epochal. They claim that he has led India’s national resurgence. Under Modi, they note, India has surpassed its former ruler, the United Kingdom, to become the world’s fifth-largest economy; it will soon eclipse Japan and Germany, as well. It became the fourth country to land a spaceship on the moon. But Modi’s impact runs deeper than material achievements. His supporters proudly boast that India has rediscovered and reaffirmed its Hindu civilizational roots, leading to a successful decolonizing of the mind—a truer independence than even the freedom movement led by Mahatma Gandhi achieved. The prime minister’s speeches are peppered with claims that India is on the cusp of leading the world. In pursuit of its global ambitions, his government hosted the G-20 meeting in New Delhi last year, the event carefully choreographed to show Modi in the best possible light, standing splendidly alone at center stage as one by one, he welcomed world leaders, including U.S. President Joe Biden, and showed them to their seats. (The party was spoiled, only slightly, by the deliberate absence of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who may not have wanted to indulge Modi in his pageant of prestige.)

Nonetheless, the future of the Indian republic looks considerably less rosy than the vision promised by Modi and his acolytes. His government has not assuaged—indeed, it has actively worked to intensify—conflicts along lines of both religion and region, which will further fray the country’s social fabric. The inability or unwillingness to check environmental abuse and degradation threatens public health and economic growth. The hollowing out of democratic institutions pushes India closer and closer to becoming a democracy only in name and an electoral autocracy in practice. Far from becoming the Vishwa Guru, or “teacher to the world”—as Modi’s boosters claim—India is altogether more likely to remain what it is today: a middling power with a vibrant entrepreneurial culture and mostly fair elections alongside malfunctioning public institutions and persisting cleavages of religion, gender, caste, and region. The façade of triumph and power that Modi has erected obscures a more fundamental truth: that a principal source of India’s survival as a democratic country, and of its recent economic success, has been its political and cultural pluralism, precisely those qualities that the prime minister and his party now seek to extinguish.

PORTRAIT IN POWER

Between 2004 and 2014, India was run by Congress-led coalition governments. The prime minister was the scholarly economist Manmohan Singh. By the end of his second term, Singh was 80 and unwell, so the task of running Congress’s campaign ahead of the 2014 general elections fell to the much younger Rahul Gandhi. Gandhi is the son of Sonia Gandhi, a former president of the Congress Party, and Rajiv Gandhi, who, like his mother, Indira Gandhi, and grandfather Nehru, had served as prime minister. In a brilliant political move, Modi, who had previously been chief minister of the important state of Gujarat for a decade, presented himself as an experienced, hard-working, and entirely self-made administrator, in stark contrast to Rahul Gandhi, a dynastic scion who had never held political office and whom Modi portrayed as entitled and effete.

Sixty years of electoral democracy and three decades of market-led economic growth had made Indians increasingly distrustful of claims made on the basis of family lineage or privilege. It also helped that Modi was a more compelling orator than Rahul Gandhi and that the BJP made better use of the new media and digital technologies to reach remote corners of India. In the 2014 elections, the BJP won 282 seats, up from 116 five years earlier, while the Congress’s tally went down from 206 to a mere 44. The next general election, in 2019, again pitted Modi against Gandhi; the BJP won 303 seats to the Congress’s 52. With these emphatic victories, the BJP not only crushed and humiliated the Congress but also secured the legislative dominance of the party. In prior decades, Indian governments had typically been motley coalitions held together by compromise. The BJP’s healthy majority under Modi has given the prime minister broad latitude to act—and free rein to pursue his ambitions.

Modi presents himself as the very embodiment of the party, the government, and the nation, as almost single-handedly fulfilling the hopes and ambitions of Indians. In the past decade, his elevation has taken many forms, including the construction of the world’s largest cricket stadium, named for Modi; the portrait of Modi on the COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued by the government of India (a practice followed by no other democracy in the world); the photo of Modi on all government schemes and welfare packages; a serving judge of the Supreme Court gushing that Modi is a “visionary” and a “genius”; and Modi’s own proclamation that he had been sent by god to emancipate India’s women.

In keeping with this gargantuan cult of personality, Modi has attempted, largely successfully, to make governance and administration an instrument of his personal will rather than a collaborative effort in which many institutions and individuals work together. In the Indian system, based on the British model, the prime minister is supposed to be merely first among equals. Cabinet ministers are meant to have relative autonomy in their own spheres of authority. Under Modi, however, most ministers and ministries take instructions directly from the prime minister’s office and from officials known to be personally loyal to him. Likewise, Parliament is no longer an active theater of debate, in which the views of the opposition are taken into account in forging legislation. Many bills are passed in minutes, by voice vote, with the speakers in both houses acting in an extremely partisan manner. Opposition members of Parliament have been suspended in the dozens—and in one recent case, in the hundreds—for demanding that the prime minister and home minister make statements about such important matters as bloody ethnic conflicts in India’s borderlands and security breaches in Parliament itself.

Sadly, the Indian Supreme Court has done little to stem attacks on democratic freedoms. In past decades, the court had at least occasionally stood up for personal freedoms, and for the rights of the provinces, acting as a modest brake on the arbitrary exercise of state power. Since Modi took office, however, the Supreme Court has often given its tacit approval to the government’s misconduct, by, for example, failing to strike down punitive laws that clearly violate the Indian constitution. One such law is the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, under which it is almost impossible to get bail and which has been invoked to arrest and designate as “terrorists” hundreds of students and human rights activists for protesting peacefully on the streets against the majoritarian policies of the regime.

The civil services and the diplomatic corps are also prone to obey the prime minister and his party, even when the demands clash with constitutional norms. So does the Election Commission, which organizes elections and frames election rules to facilitate the preferences of Modi and the BJP. Thus, elections in Jammu and Kashmir and to the municipal council of Mumbai, India’s richest city, have been delayed for years largely because the ruling party remains unsure of winning them.

The Modi government has also worked systematically to narrow the spaces open for democratic dissent. Tax officials disproportionately target opposition politicians. Large sections of the press act as the mouthpiece of the ruling party for fear of losing government advertisements or facing vindictive tax raids. India currently ranks 161 out of 180 countries surveyed in the World Press Index, an analysis of levels of journalistic freedom. Free debate in India’s once vibrant public universities is discouraged; instead, the University Grants Commission has instructed vice chancellors to install “selfie points” on campuses to encourage students to take their photograph with an image of Modi.

This story of the systematic weakening of India’s democratic foundations is increasingly well known outside the country, with watchdog groups bemoaning the backsliding of the world’s largest democracy. But another fundamental challenge to India has garnered less attention: the erosion of the country’s federal structure. India is a union of states whose constituent units have their own governments elected on the basis of universal adult franchise. As laid down in India’s constitution, some subjects, including defense, foreign affairs, and monetary policy, are the responsibility of the government in New Delhi. Others, including agriculture, health, and law and order, are the responsibility of the states. Still others, such as forests and education, are the joint responsibility of the central government and the states. This distribution of powers allows state governments considerable latitude in designing and implementing policies for their citizens. It explains the wide variation in policy outcomes across the country—why, for example, the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have a far better record with regard to health, education, and gender equity compared with northern states such as Uttar Pradesh.

As a large, sprawling federation of states, India resembles the United States. But India’s states are more varied in terms of culture, religion, and particularly language. In that sense, India is more akin to the European Union in the continental scale of its diversity. The Bengalis, the Kannadigas, the Keralites, the Odias, the Punjabis, and the Tamils, to name just a few peoples, all have extraordinarily rich literary and cultural histories, each distinct from one another and especially from that of the heartland states of northern India where the BJP is dominant. Coalition governments respected and nourished this heterogeneity, but under Modi, the BJP has sought to compel uniformity in three ways: through imposing the main language of the north, Hindi, in states where it is scarcely spoken and where it is seen as an unwelcome competitor to the local language; through promoting the cult of Modi as the only leader of any consequence in India; and through the legal and financial powers that being in office in New Delhi bestows on it.

Since coming to power, the Modi government has assiduously undermined the autonomy of state governments run by parties other than the BJP. It has achieved this in part through the ostensibly nonpartisan office of the governor, who, in states not run by the BJP, has often acted as an agent of the ruling party in New Delhi. Laws in domains such as agriculture, nominally the realm of state governments, have been passed by the national Parliament without the consultation of the states. Since several important and populous states—including Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and West Bengal—are run by popularly elected parties other than the BJP, the Modi government’s undisguised hostility toward their autonomous functioning has created a great deal of bad blood.

In this manner, in his decade in office, Modi has worked diligently to centralize and personalize political power. As chief minister of Gujarat, he gave his cabinet colleagues little to do, running the administration through bureaucrats loyal to him. He also worked persistently to tame civil society and the press in Gujarat. Since Modi became prime minister in 2014, this authoritarian approach to governance has been carried over to New Delhi. His authoritarianism has a precedent, however: the middle period of Indira Gandhi’s prime ministership, from 1971 to 1977, when she constructed a cult of personality and turned the party and government into an instrument of her will. But Modi’s subordination of institutions has gone even further. In his style of administration, he is Indira Gandhi on steroids.

A HINDU KINGDOM

For all their similarities in political style, Indira Gandhi and Modi differ markedly in terms of political ideology. Forged in the crucible of the Indian freedom struggle, inspired by the pluralistic ethos of its leader Mahatma Gandhi (who was not related to her) and of her father, Nehru, Indira Gandhi was deeply committed to the idea that India belonged equally to citizens of all faiths. For her, as for Nehru, India was not to be a Hindu version of Pakistan—a country designed to be a homeland for South Asia’s Muslims. India would not define statecraft or governance in accordance with the views of the majority religious community. India’s many minority religious groups—including Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Muslims, Parsis, and Sikhs—would all have the same status and material rights as Hindus. Modi has taken a different view. Raised as he was in the hardline milieu of the Hindu nationalist movement, he sees the cultural and civilizational character of India as defined by the demographic dominance—and long-suppressed destiny—of Hindus.

The attempt to impose Hindu hegemony on India’s present and future has two complementary elements. The first is electoral, the creation of a consolidated Hindu vote bank. Hinduism does not have the singular structure of Abrahamic religions such as Christianity or Islam. It does not elevate one religious text (such as the Bible or the Koran) or one holy city (such as Rome or Mecca) to a particularly privileged status. In Hinduism, there are many gods, many holy places, and many styles of worship. But while the ritual universe of Hinduism is pluralistic, its social system is historically highly unequal, marked by hierarchically organized status groups known as castes, whose members rarely intermarry or even break bread with one another.

The BJP under Modi has tried to overcome the pluralism of Hinduism by seeking to override caste and doctrinal differences between different groups of Hindus. It promises to construct a “Hindu Raj,” a state in which Hindus will reign supreme. Modi claims that before his ascendance, Hindus had suffered 1,200 years of slavery at the hands of Muslim rulers, such as the Mughal dynasty, and Christian rulers, such as the British—and that he will now restore Hindu pride and Hindu control over the land that is rightfully theirs. To aid this consolidation, Hindu nationalists have systematically demonized India’s large Muslim minority, painting Muslims as insufficiently apologetic for the crimes of the Muslim rulers of the past and as insufficiently loyal to the India of the present.

Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism, is a belief system characterized by what I call “paranoid triumphalism.” It aims to make Hindus fearful so as to compel them to act together and ultimately dominate those Indians who are not Hindus. At election time, the BJP hopes to make Hindus vote as Hindus. Since Hindus constitute roughly 80 percent of the population, if 60 percent of them vote principally on the basis of their religious affiliation in India’s multiparty, first-past-the-post system, that amounts to 48 percent of the popular vote for the BJP—enough to get Modi and his party elected by a comfortable margin. Indeed, in the 2019 elections, the BJP won 56 percent of seats with 37 percent of the popular vote. So complete is the ruling party’s disregard for the political rights of India’s 200 million or so Muslims that, except when compelled to do so in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, it rarely picks Muslim candidates to compete in elections. And yet it can still comfortably win national contests. The BJP has 397 members in the two houses of the Indian parliament. Not one is a Muslim.

Electoral victory has enabled the second element of Hindutva—the provision of an explicitly Hindu veneer to the character of the Indian state. Modi himself chose to contest the parliamentary elections from Varanasi, an ancient city with countless temples that is generally recognized as the most important center of Hindu identity. He has presented himself as a custodian of Hindu traditions, claiming that in his youth, he wandered and meditated in the forests of the Himalaya in the manner of the sages of the past. He has, for the first time, made Hindu rituals central to important secular occasions, such as the inauguration of a new Parliament building, which was conducted by him alone, flanked by a phalanx of chanting priests, but with the members of Parliament, the representatives of the people, conspicuously absent. He also presided, in similar fashion, over religious rituals in Varanasi, with the priests chanting, “Glory to the king.” In January, Modi was once again the star of the show as he opened a large temple in the city of Ayodhya on a site claimed to be the birthplace of the god Rama. Whenever television channels obediently broadcast such proceedings live across India, their cameras focus on the elegantly attired figure of Modi. The self-proclaimed Hindu monk of the past has thus become, in symbol if not in substance, the Hindu emperor of the present.

THE BURDENS OF THE FUTURE

The emperor benefits from having few plausible rivals. Modi’s enduring political success is in part enabled by a fractured and nepotistic opposition. In a belated bid to stall the BJP from winning a third term, as many as 28 parties have come together to fight the forthcoming general elections under a common umbrella. They have adopted the name the Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance, an unwieldy moniker that can be condensed to the crisp acronym INDIA.

Some parties in this alliance are very strong in their own states. Others have a base among particular castes. But the only party in the alliance with pretensions to being a national party is the Congress. Despite his dismal political record, Rahul Gandhi remains the principal leader of the Congress. In public appearances, he is often flanked by his sister, who is the party’s general-secretary, or his mother, reinforcing his sense of entitlement. The major regional parties, with influence in states such as Bihar, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu, are also family firms, with leadership often passing from father to son. Although their local roots make them competitive in state elections, when it comes to a general election, the dynastic baggage they carry puts them at a distinct disadvantage against a party led by a self-made man such as Modi, who can present himself as devoted entirely and utterly to the welfare of his fellow citizens rather than as the bearer of family privilege. INDIA will struggle to unseat Modi and the BJP and may hope, at best, to dent their commanding majority in Parliament.

The prime minister also faces little external pressure. In other contexts, one might expect a certain amount of critical scrutiny of Modi’s authoritarian ways from the leaders of Western democracies. But this has not happened, partly because of the ascendance of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Xi has mounted an aggressive challenge to Western hegemony and positioned China as a superpower deserving equal respect and an equal say in world affairs as the United States—moves that have worked entirely to Modi’s advantage. The Indian prime minister has played the U.S. establishment brilliantly, using the large and wealthy Indian diaspora to make his (and India’s) importance visible to the White House.

In April 2023, India officially overtook China as the most populous country in the world. It has the fifth-largest economy. It has a large and reasonably well-equipped military. All these factors make it ever more appealing to the United States as a counterweight to China. Both the Trump and the Biden administrations have shown an extraordinary indulgence toward Modi, continuing to hail him as the leader of the “world’s largest democracy” even as that appellation becomes less credible under his rule. The attacks on minorities, the suppression of the press, and the arrest of civil rights activists have attracted scarcely a murmur of disapproval from the State Department or the White House. The recent allegations that the Indian government tried to assassinate a U.S. citizen of Sikh descent are likely to fade without any action or strong public criticism. Meanwhile, the leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, seeking a greater share of the Indian market (not least in sales of sophisticated weaponry), have all been unctuous in their flattery of Modi.

The rampant environmental degradation across the country further threatens the sustainability of economic growth. Even in the absence of climate change, India would be an environmental disaster zone. Its cities have the highest rates of air pollution in the world. Many of its rivers are ecologically dead, killed by untreated industrial effluents and domestic sewage. Its underground aquifers are depleting rapidly. Much of its soil is contaminated with chemicals. Its forests are despoiled and in the process of becoming much less biodiverse, thanks to invasive nonnative weeds.

This degradation has been enabled by an antiquated economic ideology that adheres to the mistaken belief that only rich countries need to behave responsibly toward nature. India, it is said, is too poor to be green. In fact, countries such as India, with their higher population densities and more fragile tropical ecologies, need to care as much, or more, about how to use natural resources wisely. But regimes led by both the Congress and the BJP have granted a free license to coal and petroleum extraction and other polluting industries. No government has so actively promoted destructive practices as Modi’s. It has eased environmental clearances for polluting industries and watered down various regulations. The environmental scholar Rohan D’ Souza has written that by 2018, “the slash and burn attitude of gutting and weakening existing environmental institutions, laws, and norms was extended to forests, coasts, wildlife, air, and even waste management.” When Modi came to power in 2014, India ranked 155 out of 178 countries assessed by the Environmental Performance Index, which estimates the sustainability of a country’s development in terms of the state of its air, water, soils, natural habitats, and so on. By 2022, India ranked last, 180 out of 180.

The effects of these varied forms of environmental deterioration exact a horrific economic and social cost on hundreds of millions of people. Degradation of pastures and forests imperils the livelihoods of farmers. Unregulated mining for coal and bauxite displaces entire rural communities, making their people ecological refugees. Air pollution in cities endangers the health of children, who miss school, and of workers, whose productivity declines. Unchecked, these forms of environmental abuse will impose ever-greater burdens on Indians yet unborn.

These future generations of Indians will also have to bear the costs of the dismantling of democratic institutions overseen by Modi and his party. A free press, independent regulatory institutions, and an impartial and fearless judiciary are vital for political freedoms, for acting as a check on the abuse of state power, and for nurturing an atmosphere of trust among citizens. To create, or perhaps more accurately, re-create, them after Modi and the BJP finally relinquish power will be an arduous task.

The strains placed on Indian federalism may boil over in 2026, when parliamentary seats are scheduled to be reallocated according to the next census, to be conducted in that year. Then, what is now merely a divergence between north and south might become an actual divide. In 2001, when a reallocation of seats based on population was proposed, the southern states argued that it would discriminate against them for following progressive health and education policies in prior decades that had reduced birth rates and enhanced women’s freedom. The BJP-led coalition government then in power recognized the merits of the south’s case and, with the consent of the opposition, proposed that the reallocation be delayed for a further 25 years.

In 2026, the matter will be reopened. One proposed solution is to emulate the U.S. model, in which congressional districts reflect population size while each state has two seats in the Senate, irrespective of population. Perhaps having the Rajya Sabha, or upper house, of the Indian Parliament restructured on similar principles may help restore faith in federalism. But if Modi and the BJP are in power, they will almost certainly mandate the process of reallocation based on population in both the Lok Sabha, the lower house, and the Rajya Sabha, which will then substantially favor the more populous if economically lagging states of the north. The southern states are bound to protest. Indian federalism and unity will struggle to cope with the fallout.

If the BJP achieves a third successive electoral victory in May, the creeping majoritarianism under Modi could turn into galloping majoritarianism, a trend that poses a fundamental challenge to Indian nationhood. Democratic- and pluralistic-minded Indians warn of the dangers of India becoming a country like Pakistan, defined by religious identity. A more salient cautionary tale might be Sri Lanka’s. With its educated population, good health care, relatively high position of women (compared with India and all other countries in South Asia), its capable and numerous professional class, and its attractiveness as a tourist destination, Sri Lanka was poised in the 1970s to join Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan as one of the so-called Asian Tigers. But then, a deadly mix of religious and linguistic majoritarianism reared its head. The Sinhala-speaking Buddhist majority chose to consolidate itself against the Tamil-speaking minority, who were themselves largely Hindus. Through the imposition of Sinhalese as the official language and Buddhism as the official religion, a deep division was created, provoking protests by the Tamils, peaceful at first but increasingly violent when crushed by the state. Three decades of bloody civil war ensued. The conflict formally ended in 2009, but the country has not remotely recovered, in social, economic, political, or psychological terms.
India will probably not go the way of Sri Lanka. A full-fledged civil war between Hindus and Muslims, or between north and south, is unlikely. But the Modi government is jeopardizing a key source of Indian strength: its varied forms of pluralism. One might usefully contrast Modi’s time in office with the years between 1989 and 2014, when neither the Congress nor the BJP had a majority in Parliament. In that period, prime ministers had to bring other parties into government, allocating important ministries to its leaders. This fostered a more inclusive and collaborative style of governance, more suitable to the size and diversity of the country itself. States run by parties other than the BJP or the Congress found representation at the center, their voices heard and their concerns taken into account. Federalism flourished, and so did the press and the courts, which had more room to follow an independent path. It may be no coincidence that it was in this period of coalition government that India experienced three decades of steady economic growth.

When India became free from British rule in 1947, many skeptics thought it was too large and too diverse to survive as a single nation and its population too poor and illiterate to be trusted with a democratic system of governance. Many predicted that the country would Balkanize, become a military dictatorship, or experience mass famine. That those dire scenarios did not come to pass was largely because of the sagacity of India’s founding figures, who nurtured a pluralist ethos that respected the rights of religious and linguistic minorities and who sought to balance the rights of the individual and the state, as well as those of the central government and the provinces. This delicate calculus enabled the country to stay united and democratic and allowed its people to steadily overcome the historic burdens of poverty and discrimination.

The last decade has witnessed the systematic erosion of those varied forms of pluralism. One party, the BJP, and within it, one man, the prime minister, are judged to represent India to itself and to the world. Modi’s charisma and popular appeal have consolidated this dominance, electorally speaking. Yet the costs are mounting. Hindus impose themselves on Muslims, the central government imposes itself on the provinces, the state further curtails the rights and freedoms of citizens. Meanwhile, the unthinking imitation of Western models of energy-intensive and capital-intensive industrialization is causing profound and, in many cases, irreversible environmental damage.

Modi and the BJP seem poised to win their third general election in a row. This victory would further magnify the prime minister’s aura, enhancing his image as India’s redeemer. His supporters will boast that their man is assuredly taking his country toward becoming the Vishwa Guru, the teacher to the world. Yet such triumphalism cannot mask the deep fault lines underneath, which—unless recognized and addressed—will only widen in the years to come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Judge Orders Former President Trump to Pay $355 Million in Civil Fraud Case

A New York judge has handed down a significant ruling in a civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump, compelling him to pay nearly $355 million in penalties. This decision by Judge Arthur Engoron, outlined in a comprehensive 92-page document, follows weeks of closing arguments that concluded a lengthy trial, marked by frequent criticism from Trump towards both the judge and the prosecuting attorney.

In 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Trump, alleging that he manipulated his net worth on crucial financial statements to obtain favorable tax and insurance benefits. The documents, providing details on the Trump Organization’s assets, were submitted to banks and insurers to secure loans and deals, presenting a case for fraud according to the state.

The potential financial burden on Trump and his business, including interest, may surpass $450 million, as indicated by the New York attorney general’s office. Engoron held Trump, the Trump Organization, and key executives, including his adult sons, liable for fraud before the trial began, as there was no jury present.

The imposed fine is slightly less than the $370 million sought by the attorney general’s office, and it also entails a three-year ban preventing Trump from engaging in New York business activities. Furthermore, Trump’s adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, were individually ordered to pay over $4 million each, accompanied by a two-year prohibition from serving as officers or directors of any New York corporation or legal entity.

Former Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg faced a $1 million penalty, along with a three-year ban from New York business. Both Weisselberg and former controller Jeffrey McConney were also prohibited for life from serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or business entity. Additionally, the judge extended the term of the independent monitor overseeing Trump’s business for three years and appointed an “Independent Director of Compliance.”

However, the judge overturned a pre-trial decision that ordered the cancellation of the defendants’ business certificates, stating that the order could potentially be renewed.

In response to the ruling, Attorney General Letitia James hailed it as a “tremendous victory” for the state and the nation, emphasizing the importance of holding powerful individuals accountable for dishonest practices that impact hardworking citizens.

“When powerful people cheat to get better loans, it comes at the expense of honest and hardworking people. Now, Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud,” James remarked, emphasizing that no one is above the law.

Despite the substantial penalties, Trump’s legal team decried the ruling. Alina Habba, Trump’s lawyer, labeled it a “manifest injustice” and the outcome of a “multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt.” Chris Kise, Trump’s lead lawyer, characterized the case as an “unjust political crusade” against a leading presidential candidate and criticized the process as unfair and tyrannical. Kise confirmed that Trump would appeal the decision.

The trial spanned over two months, featuring testimony from 40 witnesses, including Michael Cohen, a former fixer for Trump, top Trump Organization executives, Trump’s adult children, and the former president himself. Trump’s defense rested on the argument that there was no fraud, with Deutsche Bank executives testifying that they conducted their own due diligence and found no evidence of fraud when working with the Trump Organization.

The strained relationship between Trump and Judge Engoron was evident early on when the judge ruled on Trump’s fraud liability. During Trump’s testimony in November, he launched attacks on the judge and Attorney General James, referring to them as “frauds,” “political hacks,” and “Trump haters.” Engoron had to admonish a Trump lawyer at one point, reminding him that the trial was not a political rally.

The financial ramifications of the $354.8 million judgment, coupled with another $83.3 million judgment against Trump for defamation, are expected to impact his estimated net worth significantly. Forbes estimates Trump’s wealth at $2.6 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values him at $3.1 billion. These judgments could potentially result in a loss of 13 percent or more of his estimated net worth if these figures hold true.

Legal fees are also mounting for Trump, with approximately $50 million spent on legal consulting in 2023 by his fundraising committees. Notably, more than $18 million of this amount was allocated to lawyers Chris Kise, Alina Habba, and Clifford Robert, who represented Trump in the fraud case and other legal matters.

As Trump faces increasing legal challenges, including criminal cases and impending appeals in civil cases, the financial and legal implications of these recent judgments add another layer of complexity to his post-presidential life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Appeals to Supreme Court for Immunity from Prosecution, Potentially Delaying Landmark Trial

Former President Donald Trump has petitioned the Supreme Court to halt a lower court’s decision denying him immunity from prosecution while in office. Trump’s claim of immunity was challenged in a case involving election interference during his presidency. Despite his assertion that he couldn’t be prosecuted for actions taken while president, three lower court judges disagreed, asserting that he should be subject to prosecution like any other citizen.

In a bid to delay potential legal proceedings, Trump’s legal team argued that holding a trial during an election campaign would severely disrupt his ability to campaign against his political opponent. They stated in their filing, “Conducting a months-long criminal trial of President Trump at the height of election season will radically disrupt President Trump’s ability to campaign against President Biden.”

The Supreme Court is now tasked with determining whether to suspend the ruling to permit Trump to pursue an appeal. Granting Trump’s request could significantly postpone the landmark criminal case, which accuses him of unlawfully attempting to overturn the 2020 election, possibly until after the November election. Conversely, if the Supreme Court rejects the stay, the federal trial overseen by Judge Tanya Chutkan will likely proceed, potentially in the spring.

As Trump continues his political ambitions, he faces three additional criminal trials. Charges in Georgia allege an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, while a seven-count indictment in Florida concerns his handling of classified documents post-presidency. The third trial, in New York, relates to the alleged concealment of a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Trump’s legal team has persistently sought to postpone his criminal trials until after the 2024 election. In the election interference trial, Trump faces four charges, including conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of an official proceeding. Despite his denials of wrongdoing, his lawyers argue that presidents are immune from prosecution for crimes committed while in office, even after leaving the White House.

Recently, a three-judge panel from the DC Circuit court rejected this immunity argument, stating that “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.” Now, Trump’s lawyers are urging the Supreme Court to intervene by suspending the lower court’s ruling to allow time for a full review by all active judges on the DC Circuit court.

They cautioned that denying immunity to former presidents would establish a precedent leading to more frequent prosecutions, potentially altering the nature of the presidency. Trump’s legal team emphasized, “Without immunity from criminal prosecution, the Presidency as we know it will cease to exist.”

Depending on the Supreme Court’s response, several outcomes are possible. The court could reject Trump’s request for a stay, leading to the resumption of the federal trial. Alternatively, they could deny his appeal for a review, effectively dismissing his immunity argument. Another option is for the Supreme Court to expedite Trump’s appeal, akin to a separate case regarding his eligibility for the 2024 election ballot.

The timing of the Supreme Court’s decision remains uncertain. Last year, the court declined a request by Special Counsel Jack Smith for an expedited ruling on Trump’s immunity claim. As such, the timeline for the court’s ruling on Trump’s current request is unclear.

Trump Threatens to Abandon NATO Allies Over Defense Spending, Sparks Concerns Over Alliance’s Future

Former President Donald Trump has asserted that the United States would not come to the defense of NATO allies in the event of a Russian attack if those allies failed to meet his criteria for defense spending. This declaration, made during a campaign rally in Conway, S.C., raises significant concerns about the future of the alliance should Trump be reelected in 2024.

Trump’s stance on NATO spending has been a longstanding point of contention, with him consistently criticizing other member countries for not meeting defense spending targets and inaccurately claiming that there are outstanding balances owed by allies. However, his recent remarks take this criticism a step further, suggesting that Russia should be encouraged to attack countries that are “delinquent” in their contributions.

During the rally, Trump recounted a hypothetical scenario where a country asked if the U.S. would protect them in the event of a Russian attack due to unpaid contributions. Trump’s response was blunt: “No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump also claimed that his threats led to a significant increase in NATO spending, stating that “hundreds of billions” flowed into the alliance as a result. However, data shows that NATO spending was already on the rise before Trump took office in 2016.

The issue of NATO spending has been a focal point since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. In response, NATO countries pledged to increase defense spending to 2% of their gross domestic product by 2024. Yet, according to data from July 2023, only 11 out of the 31 member countries have met this target. Notably, the United States contributes 3.49% of its GDP to defense, while several other countries, including France, Germany, and Canada, have fallen short.

The White House swiftly condemned Trump’s remarks, describing them as “unhinged” and emphasizing President Joe Biden’s commitment to strengthening NATO. White House spokesman Andrew Bates emphasized that Biden’s approach prioritizes American leadership and national security interests.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg echoed these sentiments, stating that any suggestion of allies not defending each other undermines collective security and increases risks for American and European soldiers.

Trump’s comments on NATO come amid a campaign rally in South Carolina, just weeks before the state’s Republican presidential primary. At the rally, he reiterated his hardline stance on immigration, promising to reverse Biden administration policies and implement aggressive deportation measures.

Trump also addressed the legal challenges he faces, including numerous criminal indictments, attributing them to bolstering his poll numbers rather than seeking revenge against Biden.

These remarks on foreign policy coincide with congressional struggles to advance aid packages for Israel and Ukraine, issues Trump claims would not have arisen under his administration’s leadership.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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