Biden Trails Haley, Polling Neck-And-Neck With Other Republicans

A recent CNN poll has brought concerning news for the White House and President Biden, with his approval rating at just 39 percent, a little over a year before the next election. In contrast, 61 percent of respondents expressed disapproval of Biden’s job performance, marking a significant drop from his 45 percent approval rating earlier in the year.

One of the standout findings of the poll is that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is the only GOP presidential candidate leading in a hypothetical matchup against Biden. The poll, conducted by SSRS, shows Haley ahead of Biden with 49 percent to 43 percent. Notably, all other major Republican candidates are locked in tight races with the incumbent president.

These results are particularly promising for Nikki Haley, who previously served as the United Nations ambassador under President Trump. She aims to capitalize on her strong showing in the recent GOP presidential debate, hoping to challenge her former boss for the Republican nomination. However, it’s important to note that Haley trails significantly behind Trump in polls of Republican primary voters, highlighting the considerable challenge she faces.

Nonetheless, the CNN poll suggests that she could be a more competitive GOP nominee against Biden in the general election compared to her Republican rivals. This potential advantage may become a key talking point as she campaigns in early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Other notable GOP candidates also outperformed Biden in the head-to-head polling. Former Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Tim Scott both garnered 46 percent support, while Biden received 44 percent. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie secured 44 percent to Biden’s 42 percent, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tied with Biden, each at 47 percent. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy trailed Biden in a head-to-head matchup, with 45 percent to Biden’s 46 percent. Trump held a slim 1-point lead over Biden, with 47 percent to 46 percent.

When respondents were asked about a potential rematch between Trump and Biden, 47 percent indicated they would choose the former president, while 46 percent favored the current president. A small percentage (5 percent) preferred a different candidate, and 2 percent stated they did not plan to vote. These numbers do not bode well for Biden, as he trails five of the seven GOP candidates in the polling.

One significant concern for voters regarding Biden is his age; he is currently 80 years old and will turn 81 in November. The CNN poll reveals that more than half of Democratic voters surveyed are “seriously concerned” about his age. Approximately 60 percent of Democrats expressed apprehension about Biden’s ability to win the 2024 election if he secures the Democratic nomination. Additionally, 62 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of all respondents expressed serious concerns about Biden completing a second term.

While Biden is virtually certain to secure the Democratic nomination, his weaknesses in this poll are likely to heighten anxieties within the Democratic party regarding his strength as a candidate in the upcoming election. According to the poll, 46 percent of voters believe any Republican presidential nominee would be a better choice than Biden in 2024, while 32 percent believe the sitting president is a better option than any of the GOP hopefuls. In contrast, 44 percent of respondents think any Democratic nominee would be better than Trump, and 38 percent consider the former president superior to any Democratic nominee.

Among Democrats, the poll found that 67 percent would prefer the party to nominate someone other than Biden, a significant increase from the 54 percent who expressed the same sentiment in March. Of those who desire a different candidate, 82 percent did not have a specific individual in mind. Only 1 percent stated they would vote for either of Biden’s 2024 Democratic challengers, Marianne Williamson or Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS from August 25 to August 31 among 1,259 registered voters and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Despite the challenges Biden faces in this poll, he is currently preparing to attend the G20 summit in India and will return to Washington at the beginning of the following week. While the poll results may boost Republican confidence in defeating Biden, they also raise questions among GOP voters about Trump’s viability as a general election candidate in 2024, considering his ongoing legal issues, including federal indictments and state charges.

G20 Summit 2023 In India Discusses Sustainable Development and More

The G20, or Group of Twenty, is a coalition of nations that convenes regularly to deliberate on global economic and political matters. Together, these G20 countries contribute to a staggering 85% of the world’s economic output and over 75% of worldwide trade, housing two-thirds of the global population. Comprising the EU and 19 individual nations, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, and the US, the G20 holds a unique position on the world stage.

Established in 1999, the G20 emerged in response to the Asian financial crisis with the primary goal of providing finance ministers and officials a platform to strategize methods for restoring economic stability. In 2008, the group elevated its stature, hosting its inaugural leaders’ summit as a response to the global financial turmoil that year, with the aim of promoting international cooperation.

In recent years, the G20 has widened its purview, incorporating subjects like climate change and sustainable energy into its discussions. Each year, one of the G20 member states takes on the presidency and sets the agenda for the leaders’ summit.

The 2023 G20 summit, presided over by India, will spotlight critical topics such as sustainable development, the pursuit of just and equitable global growth, and debt forgiveness for developing countries. Additionally, US President Joe Biden is expected to engage with leaders from developing nations to propose reforms for the World Bank, potentially unlocking more funds for infrastructure development and climate change mitigation.

Picture : AlJazeera

Crucially, much of the negotiation and diplomacy will occur behind the scenes, in one-on-one meetings between leaders held on the sidelines of the main summit hall. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi intends to use the summit as a platform to elevate his country’s global standing and establish himself as a significant world leader, particularly in the run-up to the spring 2024 general election. Modi is keen to ensure that the summit doesn’t get bogged down in disputes over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which marred the 2022 summit in Bali, Indonesia. Discord around this issue even prevented the issuance of a joint statement following the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Delhi in March.

Remarkably, both Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping will be absent from the summit. Putin will be represented by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, while China will send Premier Li Qiang in Xi’s stead.

Aside from the Ukraine conflict, other contentious matters could emerge at the summit. In May 2023, China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a G20 meeting on tourism held in Indian-administered Kashmir, as this region includes territory claimed by both Pakistan and India. Another source of tension has arisen between India and China after Beijing published a map asserting Chinese ownership of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau, both disputed territories. The US has urged China to put aside its differences with India and adopt a “constructive role” at the summit.

The G20 has experienced varying degrees of success since its inception. During the 2008 and 2009 leaders’ summits, held in the midst of the financial crisis, leaders reached consensus on numerous measures to salvage the global economic system. However, critics argue that subsequent summits have been less productive, often due to discord between rival global powers. Nevertheless, the one-on-one meetings between leaders have frequently yielded positive outcomes. For instance, at the 2019 summit in Osaka, then-US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping concurred to recommence talks to resolve a major trade dispute.

Security is always a paramount concern at G20 summits, given their propensity to attract anti-globalization protests. The Indian government has taken extensive security measures ahead of the Delhi event, including road closures around the venue and deploying 130,000 security personnel across the city. Unique measures have also been introduced to deter troublesome monkeys from disrupting the summit, as Delhi has a substantial monkey population that authorities wish to keep at bay.

The 2023 G20 summit promises to be a pivotal event, with India at the helm emphasizing sustainable development, equitable global growth, and debt relief for developing nations. While the specter of the Ukraine conflict looms, leaders will engage in discreet discussions to address a range of pressing issues, including World Bank reform and climate change.

The absence of key leaders like Putin and Xi adds an intriguing dimension to the proceedings. However, the G20’s track record, marked by both achievements and challenges, underscores the importance of these high-level diplomatic gatherings in shaping the global agenda. Amidst stringent security measures and innovative tactics to deal with local fauna, the world will be watching closely as the G20 nations convene to chart the course of the global economy and address pressing international concerns.

Tech Migration From India To Canada

The number of Indians immigrating to Canada has more than tripled since 2013. The scale of the increase is what one would expect to witness in a refugee situation, not the result of a steady increase in international students and employment-based immigrants. The data show restrictive immigration policies in the United States, particularly during the Trump administration, have played a significant role in Indians choosing to immigrate to Canada.

In the past year, more than 15,000 Indians have immigrated to Canada, constituting the largest group of global tech industry professionals who have chosen Canada as their new home between April 2022 and March 2023.

Canada’s welcoming immigration policies and favorable labor conditions have played a pivotal role in facilitating this significant influx of newcomers, enabling them to forge successful new lives in the country.

Additionally, with approximately 75% of America’s H1-B visa holders being of Indian descent, Canada’s new H1-B program has emerged as an appealing alternative, drawing interest from U.S. H1-B candidates. As a result, Canada’s tech ecosystem is experiencing rapid growth, attracting a diverse pool of global talent, expanding the Indian diaspora in the region, and fostering cultural influences in the process.

The number of Indians who became permanent residents in Canada rose from 32,828 in 2013 to 118,095 in 2022, an increase of 260%, according to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data.

In 2022, at 118,095, Indian immigration to Canada dwarfed the next largest source countries for permanent residents: China (31,815), Afghanistan (23,735), Nigeria (22,085) and the Philippines (22,070). In 2014, Canada had more immigrants from the Philippines than from India.

As per Forbes, the significant increase in the number of Indians immigrating to Canada coincided with the election of Donald Trump and his opposition to immigration, including highly educated professionals—and the Canadian government’s policies to attract and retain foreign-born talent.

In January 2015, Canada adopted the Express Entry program to streamline immigration, particularly for high-skilled workers who had experience in Canada as international students or working in temporary status. In June 2017, the Global Skills Strategy began in Canada. “The Canadian government launched a new program to encourage foreign investment in Canada, incentivize companies to open offices in Canada, and attract top foreign talent,” according to a government website.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Surprising Ascent in Republican Politics

Vivek Ramaswamy’s unexpected emergence as a prominent figure within the Republican Party has sent shockwaves through the political landscape. The 38-year-old pharmaceutical executive’s sudden prominence in the GOP presidential primary race has raised eyebrows, especially after his standout performance in a recent debate.

Previously an unexpected contender, Ramaswamy’s surge in popularity has been evident in the polls, where he has begun to surpass the popularity of current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. While DeSantis was once comfortably polling above 35% among voters, his favorability has dwindled in recent times, with numerous polls showing his numbers dipping below 15%. In contrast, Ramaswamy, who announced his presidential candidacy in late February, had started with a modest polling range between 1% and 5%. However, recent polls conducted by Rasmussen Reports and McLaughlin & Associates indicate that his support has soared, with figures reaching as high as 24%, and in some cases, even surpassing DeSantis.


Amidst the Battle for Second Place

As DeSantis and Ramaswamy vie for second place in the primary race, the prevailing sentiment is that former President Donald Trump maintains a commanding lead, consistently polling at over 50%. Trump’s resurgence and increasing popularity have been attributed, in part, to his recent legal challenges across four states, which appear to have rallied his base. Furthermore, Trump’s strategic return to social media, now under the name “X” after the rebranding of Twitter, is anticipated to further bolster his polling numbers.

Ramaswamy’s Policy Stances and Their Potential Market Effects

Vivek Ramaswamy’s policy platform is marked by a commitment to reducing government expenditure and regulations. While these policies might not directly impact individual stocks, the broader market indices such as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange tend to respond positively to initiatives aimed at deregulation in specific sectors.

Energy Sectors and Economic Implications

Ramaswamy aligns himself with many GOP candidates in supporting energy solutions rooted in natural resources like oil, coal, nuclear power, and natural gas. This alignment suggests that stocks in these sectors could experience substantial growth under a Ramaswamy presidency. Notable companies poised to benefit include ExxonMobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Constellation Energy Corp., and NuScale Power Corp.

Cryptocurrency Standpoint and Financial Markets

While Ramaswamy takes a stance against central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), he has emerged as a proponent of Bitcoin. His campaign’s acceptance of donations in Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, and other cryptocurrencies reflects his support for the crypto landscape. However, it remains unclear whether he would actively promote policies favoring cryptocurrencies. Ramaswamy’s priority appears to be strengthening the U.S. dollar over Bitcoin, thereby shaping his stance on digital currencies.

Tech Innovation and Startup Ecosystem

Ramaswamy’s focus on innovation, evident in his “America First 2.0” agenda and his background in technology, bodes well for traditional technology stocks. Although companies like Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. have exhibited resilience regardless of the party in power, potential tax incentives for companies moving their operations to the U.S. could enhance their profitability in the long term.

Picture : CNBC

Stimulating innovation and small business growth is anticipated to yield positive outcomes. The venture capital market, which encountered declines exceeding 50% in the U.S. during the first half of 2023, is showing signs of a rebound. Platforms facilitating retail startup investments, like StartEngine and Wefunder, are gradually recovering. The projected positive direction of these sectors is attributed to the potential for deregulation and policies promoting innovation, small businesses, and vocational trades.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s unforeseen prominence in the Republican Party’s presidential primary race has captivated attention. As he competes with Governor Ron DeSantis for second place, both candidates trail behind the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump. Ramaswamy’s policy positions, spanning from deregulation to energy preferences and cryptocurrency viewpoints, hold potential implications for various sectors in the economy and financial markets. His commitment to fostering innovation and supporting small businesses has the potential to reshape multiple facets of the American economic landscape.

Trump’s Mug Shot, The First Ever Of A US President

The world’s seen hundreds of thousands of pictures of Donald Trump. But this one’s different.

In Donald Trump’s mug shot taken at the Fulton County Jail on Thursday, he’s looking straight into the camera. His platinum blonde cotton candy wisp of hair shimmers in the harsh jailhouse lighting. His eyes are locked in a hard stare. His mouth is flattened in a grimace. Instead of smiling like some of his co-defendants, he appears to be scowling.

The mug shot was released by the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office roughly an hour after the former President was booked as inmate P01135809 over charges that he illegally schemed to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia.

Trump’s booking in Atlanta is the fourth time he’s faced criminal charges in six months, but the first time his face has been captured for the iconic symbol of a run-in with the law. In previous cases, the courts agreed Trump didn’t need to have a mug shot taken, prompting his campaign to design a fake mug shot, print it on T-shirts and offer them for sale at $36 each in an effort to galvanize his base.

Mug shots have been taken since the 1800s to help authorities identify people accused of a crime if they escape or don’t show up for court, or later, after being convicted and released, to help authorities recapture them if they’re accused of other crimes. Trump’s face is so well known, taking another image of him is hardly necessary, and authorities during his previous appearances agreed to waive the requirement. But not Fulton County, Georgia.

Speaking to reporters at the Atlanta airport after being booked, Trump said that he did “nothing wrong” and called the case a “travesty of justice.” He added: “We have every right to challenge an election we think is dishonest.”

While several of Trump’s Republican rivals for president have criticized the multiple prosecutions against him, they have also acknowledged that Joe Biden won the 2020 election.

Trump is the first President to ever pose for a mug shot. The closest history has to offer was the 1872 arrest of President Ulysses S. Grant, who was taken to a local police station in Washington, D.C. for speeding in his horse-drawn carriage. No mug shot was taken in the incident.

Republican Presidential Debate Showcases Standout Performances By Vivek & Hailey

The initial Republican presidential debate proved to be a lively event, as eight contenders engaged in heated discussions and exchanges. Despite concerns that the absence of the charismatic showman, Donald Trump, might render the debate dull, it was anything but lackluster.

The group of rivals, assembled in Wisconsin, demonstrated their capacity to generate excitement without relying on Trump’s presence. Within this competitive atmosphere, certain candidates emerged as strong contenders, while others seemed to fade into the background. Here’s an overview of the winners and losers from the debate.


Vivek Ramaswamy: In a surprising turn of events, a political novice with no prior experience in public office, and who had abstained from voting for presidents from 2004 to 2020, took center stage during the Republican debate. Sporting a wide grin and a sharp wit, Ramaswamy appeared to be the sole candidate genuinely enjoying the proceedings. His lack of political baggage allowed him to deflect criticism from fellow contenders, insinuating that Christie was auditioning for a left-leaning news channel, and Haley’s positions on Ukraine were aimed at securing positions on defense contractor boards.

“I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” Ramaswamy boldly asserted during a discussion on climate change, which sparked outrage among his opponents. Ramaswamy consistently positioned himself as an outsider amidst a sea of establishment insiders, championing unconventional views such as advocating Ukraine to cede territory to Russia, deploying military force to secure the US-Mexico border, and prohibiting US firms from engaging with China.

While his stances may diverge significantly from the Republican Party’s mainstream, Ramaswamy proved that even audacious and seemingly impractical policy proposals can garner attention, as demonstrated by Trump in 2016. Despite potential limitations in challenging Trump’s nomination, Ramaswamy’s performance guaranteed his influence in the upcoming months.

Mike Pence: A seasoned politician with a history as a congressman, governor, and vice-president, Pence showcased his remaining political vigor during the debate. Although his presidential campaign has encountered challenges, being disliked by both Trump supporters and critics, his experience on the debate stage served him well. Pence immediately went on the offensive, criticizing Ramaswamy’s inexperience and asserting that “now is not the time for on-the-job training.” He fervently advocated for nationwide abortion restrictions, a stance likely to resonate with evangelical Republicans, who wield significant influence in pivotal states like Iowa and South Carolina.

When the topic shifted to Trump, Pence had the final say, highlighting his prioritization of the Constitution on January 6, 2021, by refusing to overturn the election results as per Trump’s wishes. This stance garnered support from some of his rivals. While Pence’s campaign still faces challenges, his debate performance illustrated why he was once considered a promising presidential candidate among conservative Republicans.

Nikki Haley: The former US ambassador to the UN consistently defies expectations. Never defeated in any race for office, even when facing established Republican contenders for the South Carolina governorship, Haley continued her streak during the debate. She stood out by delivering early and pointed criticisms of both Trump and the Republican Party as a whole.

“Republicans did this to you too,” Haley remarked while discussing the substantial US budget deficit. She emphasized the need to curtail spending and borrowing. \

Turning her attention to the former president, Haley labeled Trump as the “most disliked politician in America,” cautioning that the Republican Party’s fortunes would suffer as a consequence. Haley exhibited her readiness for a fight, engaging in debates with Ramaswamy over continuing US aid to Ukraine and challenging Pence’s calls for a national abortion ban as unrealistic and politically damaging.

Even if she fails to surge ahead in the current race, Haley’s debate performance could position her for future presidential bids in election years not dominated by a former president.

Middle of the Pack

Tim Scott and Chris Christie: Christie adhered to expectations by adopting a confrontational tone, taking jabs at Trump and Ramaswamy while displaying a spirited and combative attitude. Yet, his criticisms of Ramaswamy and his comments about the political neophyte resembling “ChatGPT” failed to resonate with the audience.

Tim Scott’s conciliatory demeanor positioned him above the fray during the most heated exchanges. While this approach may not attract a substantial voter base, it could enhance his prospects as a potential vice-presidential candidate for Trump.


Ron DeSantis: Initially projected to be a strong contender alongside Trump, the Florida governor’s poll numbers have dwindled since the beginning of the year. DeSantis failed to revitalize his campaign during the debate, remaining largely absent during pivotal moments. While his performance wasn’t disastrous, Ramaswamy overshadowed him, and rivals like Pence and Haley dominated discussions on abortion and US aid to Ukraine. His uncertain footing during discussions about Trump and recent indictments further highlighted his struggles. DeSantis’ inability to close the gap with Trump demonstrated that he has become a marginal player despite past expectations of his prominence within the Republican Party.

Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum: Hutchinson barely qualified for the Milwaukee debate, and Burgum secured his position through an unconventional campaign gimmick. Both candidates needed to prove their worth but failed to stand out. Hutchinson’s criticisms of Trump paled in comparison to Christie’s sharper attacks, and Burgum’s modest, small-state conservatism didn’t capture attention. With stricter qualification standards for the next debate, neither candidate demonstrated the necessary support to secure another appearance on the stage.

The Republican presidential debate showcased a dynamic atmosphere with candidates engaging in fervent exchanges. Ramaswamy’s unexpected prominence as a political newcomer, Pence’s revival of vigor, and Haley’s resilience against expectations were notable highlights. Candidates like Christie and Scott occupied the middle ground, while DeSantis, Hutchinson, and Burgum faltered. This debate marked an early juncture in the campaign, offering a glimpse of the evolving landscape of the Republican nomination race.

How China Influenced US-India Ties In The Last 76 Years

As the US tries to break the stranglehold of China on its supply chains, especially in hi-tech, India is emerging as a venue for what is now called ‘friendshoring’ – developing manufacturing in friendly countries that can be reliable partners. From being a recipient of food aid from the US seven decades ago, India has emerged as a partner in defence, space, health and technology.

China, intriguingly, has been a constant factor in the trajectory of India-United States relations, putting them at odds in the first years after Independence but now propelling them to the apex.

In the years after Independence, India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru backed Beijing while the US supported Taiwan laying the foundation for the many differences between them that would continue in many forms. Now it is China with its aggressive postures from the Himalayas to the South China Sea and beyond that helping strengthen bonds between India and US that share worries about it.

Eurasia Review

Yet, even as the two largest democracies draw closer, a shadow of ambiguity persists in their ties.

India still will not back the US unambiguously, is still dangerously reliant on Russia for defence, and is wary of going too far in provoking China while appearing with them on international forums. And it is the China factor that makes Washington so forgiving of India’s neutrality ignoring calls, especially in the US media tinged with hostility to India, especially under the BJP.

Those in the administration with an unblinkered view of geopolitics know that were India to break with Russia, its defences would be degraded making it vulnerable to China and thus reduce its value as a strategic partner.

Leaving geopolitics aside, perhaps the most momentous development is a person of Indian heritage, Kamala Harris, holding the second highest office in the US – something Franklin D Roosevelt, the US president who laid the groundwork for India becoming free of the colonial yoke, might not have dreamt of.

How initial warmth turned to fissures

Modern India’s ties to the US can be traced to Roosevelt forcing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the archetypical racist colonialist, into signing the 1941 Atlantic Charter promising independence for colonies with a clause about self-determination.

“America won’t help England in this war simply so that she will be able to continue to ride roughshod over colonial peoples”, Roosevelt is said to have warned the imperialist.

Roosevelt, who tried unsuccessfully to have an emissary mediate between the British and India’s Independence movement leaders, could not force Churchill to implement it as long as World War II was raging. But ultimately, Roosevelt’s idea prevailed and India became free under both their successors, US President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Clement Atlee.

Truman had high expectations of a democratic India and sent Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru his own plane to bring him from London and went out of his way to greet him on arrival and feted him in 1949.

But China intervened. With Cold War both leaders were hung up on China – Truman was backing Taiwan, then officially recognised as China at the UN and was set against a Communist Beijing, and wanted Nehru, who was behind Mao Zedong, to switch sides.

That was the first overt sign of the fissures between the two countries, yet about three-quarters of a century later, it is China that is drawing them closer.

Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson declared Nehru “one of the most difficult persons”. Shortly after the visit, Nehru declared more firmly the policy of not aligning with blocs, which would later become the concept of non-alignment.

In the Korean War that broke out a year later when the US and Beijing’s forces clashed, India stood neutral, much to the chagrin of Washington.

But the US continued with economic assistance for India and in 1951 Truman pushed through the India Emergency Food Assistance Act when India faced severe food shortage.

The 1962 China war and aftermatch

Engulfed in an ideological fog, Nehru ramped up his rhetoric of nonalignment,  which in effect was perceived as critical of the West. The tenuous relationship with Washington continued with a slight warming of ties between Nehru and the wartime general President Dwight Eisenhower, who expressed respect for Nehru in his memoir. In 1959, Eisenhower became the first US president to visit India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan had grown closer to the US, joining the two now-defunct defence collectives, SEATO and CENTO, and benefitted militarily from the US.

India Today

The China war in 1962 shocked Nehru into reality and temporarily abandoning his veneer of nonalignment sought US military aid from President John F Kennedy, which he received.

The Soviet Union, which had broken up with China, began supplying arms to India, notably the MIG21 fighter jets, although the supply began after the war.

The Kennedy administration initially supported Nehru’s request for setting up a massive state-owned steel plant at Bokaro, viewed as a socialist project it faced political opposition. Moscow stepped in to help India set up the steel plant further deepening ties between the two countries.

That was further strengthened at the cost of Washington during the 1965 Pakistan War when Islamabad flung advanced US weaponry at India, which was using mostly British and Soviet arms.

Yet, when the danger of famine loomed over India, President Lyndon Johnson rushed food aid to India in 1966, while also extracting promises to reform agriculture and to tone down criticism of the US internationally. India and the US had already been collaborating in agriculture development and what was probably the greatest achievement in India-US cooperation followed, helping India achieve food self-sufficiency through the Green Revolution in a few short years and making it one of the nations that can extend food aid to others.

The 1971 Bangladesh and dip in ties

The 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence is the nadir in New Delhi-Washington relations. A month before the War, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Washington and met with President Richard Nixon, asking for help to temper the Pakistani military crackdown on what was then East Pakistan and to deal with the crisis of refugees fleeing army terror.

His vulgar personal comments about Indira Gandhi and about Indians emerged from White House tapes that were made public decades later.

Given the deep ties with Pakistan and Islamabad acting as the broker for the US to establish relations with China, Nixon made the infamous “tilt” to Pakistan and tried to intimidate India by sending the Seventh Fleet to the Bay of Bengal.

Under Presidents Jimmy Carter, who visited India, Ronald Reagan, who warmly received both Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv who succeeded her, and George Bush, the senior, the two countries plodded on with no breakthroughs in their relations.

India’s nuclear test brought sanctions against it from President Bill Clinton, marking another diplomacy dip between the two nations.

Although relations with India had had a rocky start at the start of his administration due to Secretary of State Madeline Albright’s perceived hostility, Clinton came through when Pakistan sent its forces into Kargil in Kashmir in 1999.

A war seeming likely when India began to root out Islamabad’s forces, Clinton called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington and read him the riot act, forcing him and then-military chief Pervez Musharraf to withdraw their troops.

The beginning of the embrace

With the emergence of the Indian American community and the onset of India’s economic liberalisation, Clinton started the steps that have led to the embrace of the two countries now.

His visit to India the next year, was the first visit by a US president in 22 years, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went to Washington the same year.

A bipartisan consensus on cooperation with India was becoming entrenched and President George W Bush in 2001 ended all the sanctions against India, that were already beginning to be relaxed.

The 2001 terrorist attack on the US that was orchestrated by Pakistan’s allies in Afghanistan brought a sense of urgency to New Delhi’s and Washington’s war on terror, even as Islamabad took advantage of its geography in the US invasion of Afghanistan.

India and the US began joint military exercises in 2002 and in 2005 signed an agreement on the framework for defence cooperation.

That year the two countries also signed the landmark Civil Nuclear Agreement that allowed them to resume cooperation in the area, while having an impact beyond their borders facilitating trade in nuclear equipment and materials.

The agreement became the centre-piece of the era of Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Singh visited Washington in 2005 to discuss it, and in 2008 after it was ok’d by Congress, while Bush went to India in 2006 to finalise it, and during that trip the two countries agreed to increase trade and loosen restrictions.

Singh returned to Washington the next year on a state visit at the invitation of President Barack Obama, and made another visit in 2013. The cerebral Indian leader bonded with the intellectual American and the relations in economy and defence took off.

China has again taken the centre in the relations between the US and India, but this time with a convergence – India jolted from the Nehruvian illusion and the US waking up to the looming threats in the economy, trade and, more importantly, security.

The Quad, the group of India, the US, Australia and Japan, that was to play a greater role later on was launched in 2007, but collapsed quickly when Canberra cooled towards Washington.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without ideological baggage and with a fresh outlook on the world, opened up the avenues for ties that bind closer. Once shunned by the US, his election made Washington realise the new realities of India and Obama quickly invited him to visit in 2014.

He arrived like a rock star feted by tens of thousands of Indian Americans. Besides vowing to boost trade, the two leaders turned their focus to climate change and agree on programmes on green energy.

Obama was the guest at India’s Republic  Day celebration the next year.

In 2016, Modi addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time and the US gave India the status of Major Defence Partner, which led to an agreement on an agreement to deepen military cooperation

At President Donald Trump’s invitation, Modi visited Washington in 2017 and in 2019 the two of them went together to Houston and paraded at an event billed as “Howdy Modi” that drew about 50,000 people.

Trump went to India in 2020 for his last foreign trip as president and was greeted by a roaring crowd of about 100,000 in Ahmedabad.

During the Covid pandemic, India sent some medicines at the request of Trump, as well as some medical supplies, while the US sent medical equipment.

While New Delhi was already sending vaccines to many countries, the Quad which was revived in 2017 devised a joint programme to provide developing countries with vaccines made by India.

On the trade front, Modi’s “Make in India” clashed with Trump’s “America First” resulting in a mini-trade-war. Trump ended preferential trade status for some Indian products under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences programme asserting that New Delhi does not give “equitable” access to Indian markets for some US products – among them whisky and motorcycles.

India retaliated by hiking tariffs on 28 products, among them almonds, and the US hit back with more duties on Indian aluminium and steel imports.

But they went ahead on the defence and security front, signing a slew of pacts including the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that gives New Delhi access to advanced technologies and realtime military data and the  Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for intelligence-sharing.

What Next for U.S.-India Military Ties?

A new agreement between top U.S. and Indian officials will deepen military cooperation and bolster strategic tie…

The unthinkable happens

When President Joe Biden came into office and the full impact of China on security, trade and the economy hit him, he revved up cooperation with India.

The Quad meetings were raised to summit status and Modi attended it in Washington in 2021.

Ignoring opposition from the vociferous left in the Democratic Party and the ideologically liberal mainstream media, Biden invited Modi for a state visit last month.

Not only was the US selling India advanced military equipment worth several billions of dollars, but it was also authorising the production of military jet engines jointly in India while promoting cooperation in defence production, something unthinkable some years ago.

(The writer is Nonresident Fellow, Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi, Views are personal)   Read more at:

The Constitution Bars Trump From Holding Public Office Ever Again

In a landscape where some individuals on the right portray the accountability for the January 6 Capitol riot as merely a partisan dispute, two well-known conservative legal scholars have put forth the argument that the Constitution actually bars former President Trump from holding public office.

Recently, William Baude, a law professor at the University of Chicago, and Michael Stokes Paulsen, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas and both members of the conservative Federalist Society, presented their viewpoint through a law review article. They contend that Trump’s eligibility to hold public office is constitutionally prohibited due to Section Three of the 14th Amendment.

Picture: The UNN

Section Three, also referred to as the Disqualification Clause, stipulates that any government official who swears an oath to protect the Constitution and then participates in or assists an insurrection against the United States is ineligible for office. Only a two-thirds majority from both the House of Representatives and the Senate can take action to remove such a disability.

The argument isn’t surprising given Trump’s actions align with this criterion. All three branches of the government have characterized the attack on the Capitol as an insurrection. Multiple federal judges, bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress, as well as the Jan. 6 House select committee, which comprises members from both parties, have attributed the central cause of the insurrection to Trump.

Baude and Paulsen highlight that “Section Three does not necessitate a prior conviction under criminal law, whether for treason or any other specific offense, as a precondition for its application.” Trump’s indictment on charges related to election activities by special counsel Jack Smith only serves to further strengthen the argument for his constitutional disqualification.

The federal charges leveled against him encompass conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiring against rights by seeking to “oppress, threaten or intimidate” individuals in their exercise of the right to vote.

Although Trump’s role in inciting the attack on the Capitol is well-documented, Baude and Paulsen assert that the “full legal implications” of Section Three “have not been fully recognized or enforced.” They underline that the Disqualification Clause is a “binding element of the Constitution, not confined to the Civil War era, and not effectively annulled by amnesty legislation from the 19th century.”

Moreover, the clause is “self-executing, without the necessity of supplementary action by Congress.” According to the professors, Section Three “can and should be upheld by every official, whether at the state or federal level, who assesses qualifications.”

In a notable precedent, last September, three residents of New Mexico, represented by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, achieved the first instance in over a century and a half where an elected official was removed from office on the basis of involvement in an insurrection. The court determined that then-New Mexico County Commissioner Couy Griffin had violated Section Three of the 14th Amendment by enlisting individuals for combat in support of Trump’s endeavor to overturn the election on January 6. Griffin’s actions, which included breaching police barricades, contributing to the violent mob’s attack, and facilitating the overwhelming of law enforcement to storm the Capitol, were deemed insurrectionist. This case marked the initial instance at either the federal or state level where the events of January 6 were legally classified as an insurrection.

The court’s decision in Griffin’s case refutes the notion that disqualifying officials under Section Three of the 14th Amendment infringes upon the First Amendment right to protest. Furthermore, the court rejected attempts by Griffin to equate the events of January 6 with the Black Lives Matter protests.

In their article, Baude and Paulsen elucidate that “to the extent of any conflict with prior constitutional rules, Section Three repeals, supersedes, or simply satisfies them,” including “the free speech principles of the First Amendment.”

Most critically, the authors conclude that Section Three encompasses a “wide spectrum of actions against the authority of the constitutional order” and “a broad array of previous offices, including the presidency.” They unequivocally state that Section Three “disqualifies former President Donald Trump, and potentially many others, because of their involvement in the attempted overthrow of the 2020 presidential election.”

Irrespective of political affiliation, every president takes an oath to uphold and safeguard the United States Constitution. Applying the Disqualification Clause to an official who violates this oath is an act of devotion to the nation, devoid of partisan motivation. As Baude and Paulsen aptly put it, “Officials must uphold the Constitution because it is the law … Section Three already carries legal weight.”

The Disqualification Clause has already demonstrated its effectiveness in holding individuals accountable for their participation in the insurrection. In the approaching months, it is anticipated that this clause will be employed again to prevent Trump and others from assuming public office.

Is Anyone Having More Fun Running For President Than Vivek Ramaswamy?

Vivek Ramaswamy is currently navigating through the bustling streets of New Hampshire in a crowded Ford Explorer. The Republican contender for the presidential race is managing a whirlwind of campaign stops, engaging in discussions with three journalists while simultaneously conferring with a campaign assistant. During this drive, there’s a brief jolt as the SUV veers onto the highway’s rumble strip, causing Ramaswamy to momentarily startle before promptly resuming his conversation.

In the world of presidential campaigns, the ability to multitask is a necessity – be it handling various tasks while on the move, interacting with constituents, or delivering speeches. However, among the Republican candidates, few exhibit the multitasking prowess of the affluent 38-year-old Ramaswamy. His day has been brimming with activity, starting from his visit to the courthouse in Washington where Donald Trump was to be arraigned, all the way to New Hampshire. Here, he engaged in a lunchtime meet-and-greet and later attended a backyard gathering, addressing attendees and distributing pamphlets outlining his 10 core “truths.” These include statements such as “there are two genders,” “human prosperity depends on fossil fuels,” and “the nuclear family represents the supreme form of governance known to humanity.” During these events, Ramaswamy also shared his plans to dismantle the Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, he articulated his intent to take the “America First” approach even further than Trump by reducing support for Ukraine and deploying troops to secure the southern border.

Ramaswamy’s strategy of being present everywhere at once, combined with his knack for conveying provocative anti-establishment views in an amiable manner, has propelled him to a prominent position in the GOP primary. Since officially launching his candidacy in February, Ramaswamy’s pace has been relentless. From shaking hands in New Hampshire to rapping Eminem lyrics in Iowa, from featuring on over 70 podcasts to appearing on a plethora of news programs, and generating a consistent stream of online content, he has outperformed many governors and even a former vice president in the early primary states. This dynamism has led Ramaswamy to secure second or third place in various national polls, garnering attention as a major contender.

Sarah Longwell, a Republican pollster who conducts focus groups with GOP-leaning voters, noted a shift in perception. While previously, Ramaswamy was scarcely mentioned in discussions while Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was frequently brought up, the tables have now turned. Longwell views Ramaswamy’s campaign approach as one DeSantis could have adopted. “I think that he has been running the kind of campaign that Ron DeSantis should have run,” Longwell commented on Ramaswamy’s strategy.

However, Ramaswamy’s journey ahead won’t be without challenges. The influence of Trump remains dominant in the race, commanding the support of a majority of primary voters as indicated by recent national polls. Furthermore, Ramaswamy hasn’t yet become a target for his fellow contenders, partly due to not being perceived as a significant threat. While Ramaswamy has made strides in winning over the GOP base, Longwell doesn’t consider him a genuine contender for the GOP nomination. She explains, “He’s not really running as a challenger to Trump. He’s running as somebody who’s trying to elevate his brand, elevate his name ID, and simply become a player in politics.”

In contrast, Ramaswamy asserts his intention to secure victory and categorically rejects the idea of joining a potential second Trump administration. The entrepreneur, who asserts billionaire status, has already injected $15 million of his personal funds into his campaign and is willing to contribute an “unlimited” amount. As the debate stage in Milwaukee awaits him on August 23rd, Ramaswamy and his team anticipate capitalizing on the momentum generated through six months of relentless campaigning. Beyond that point, he envisions transitioning to a more traditional campaign approach involving television advertisements and conventional voter engagement methods. By the time the Iowa caucuses arrive in January, Ramaswamy is confident he will have demonstrated to the Republican electorate what a plausible successor to Trump looks like.

Currently, Vivek Ramaswamy finds himself amid the flurry of activities that have become his signature approach. As we share the car ride through New Hampshire, he reserves the final 10 minutes to collect his thoughts and review his phone. While scrolling through his social media feed, he stumbles upon something intriguing – a post on social media that captures his attention. Specifically, it’s a MSNBC clip featuring Al Sharpton’s commentary on Donald Trump’s legal issues. In the clip, Sharpton raises a rhetorical question, “Can you imagine our reading that James Madison or Thomas Jefferson tried to overthrow the government so they can stay in power?”

Ramaswamy responds to this snippet with a chuckle, his eyes twinkling with an understanding that he can leverage this. He starts by recalling an incident from his college days when he posed a question to Sharpton during a news program. Although he doesn’t recall the specifics of that interaction, he capitalizes on the current moment. As our car nears the upcoming campaign stop in Concord, Ramaswamy plays off Sharpton’s comment and tweets a rejoinder: “It was called the American Revolution. We were successful. We won.” This tweet quickly garners over 2 million views.

Earlier in the day, the scene shifts to Milford, where Ramaswamy addresses a gathering of several dozen people in a local grill. Despite the awkwardness of some attendees eating their lunches while standing, there’s palpable interest in this candidate within the crowded field. Amidst the older, casually dressed voters, Ramaswamy stands out in his suit. He dedicates thirteen minutes to delivering his campaign speech and then devotes almost an hour to answering a diverse range of questions, spanning topics from his plans for national unity to his views on modern monetary theory and strategies to address pedophilia. Following this extensive exchange, he engages with those who have lined up for a photo opportunity.

Ramaswamy’s drive and charisma have deep roots. Born in Cincinnati to Indian immigrant parents who pursued the American Dream, his upbringing significantly influenced his worldview. Despite his parents arriving in the U.S. with limited financial resources, his father found work as an engineer and his mother as a psychiatrist. The values he imbibed were more rooted in culture than politics, he tells me during our time in the SUV. He elaborates, “That was sort of what we cared more about—moral foundations.”

During his teenage years, Ramaswamy began absorbing political insights from various sources. One influence was his conservative Christian piano teacher who admired Ronald Reagan. “She probably influenced me with modes of conservative thought that I probably wouldn’t have thought about in the past,” Ramaswamy reflects. He cites the emphasis on family stability and grounding as perspectives he gained from this exposure.

Despite his polished political demeanor, at the time Vivek Ramaswamy was primarily focused on the business realm. His Harvard years saw the co-founding of Campus Venture Network, an initiative supporting student entrepreneurs, and the launch of a college consulting firm. Graduating in 2007, he joined QVT Financial LP, a hedge fund where he achieved partner status by age 28. Concurrently, he pursued legal education at Yale Law School.

Around this juncture, Ramaswamy acknowledges entertaining fleeting thoughts of entering politics. He recalls, “I considered it briefly, the idea of possibly doing it at some point, when I was in law school.” While some in his circle maintain that he wasn’t deeply inclined toward electoral politics at that time, at least one acquaintance from that era shares that Ramaswamy had contemplated dedicating a decade to building a robust business career before embarking on a political journey. This strategy aimed to achieve success that would allow him to uphold his convictions without being influenced by the donor class.

Notably, Ramaswamy claims to have achieved multi-millionaire status by the time he obtained his J.D. in 2013. In the subsequent year, he founded Roivant Sciences, a drug development company aiming to advance stalled medical treatments. Through one of Roivant’s subsidiaries in 2015, he orchestrated the largest initial public offering in the U.S. biotech industry up to that point. While the Alzheimer’s drug central to this IPO faced setbacks, the company achieved success with other treatments, securing FDA approval for therapies addressing prostate cancer and overactive bladder. In 2016, he earned a place on Forbes’ list of richest entrepreneurs under 40, and his wealth soared.

The year 2020 marked a turning point. Ramaswamy’s discomfort grew as he observed corporate advocacy for ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing. He expressed his concerns in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, asserting that business leaders should refrain from influencing America’s societal and cultural values. The pandemic and the racial justice protests of that year further solidified his stance. An associate, Anson Frericks, recalls Ramaswamy’s frustration, noting instances where his board requested him to take positions on contentious issues related to COVID policies and matters stemming from George Floyd’s death.

In 2021, Ramaswamy relinquished his role as CEO of Roivant and published “Woke, Inc.,” a New York Times bestseller. Subsequently, he gained a regular presence on Fox News. He and Frericks established Strive, an asset management firm emphasizing shareholder value over political agendas. Ramaswamy swiftly penned another book, critiquing victimhood mindsets and identity politics. Amidst numerous appearances on cable news, he considered running for Senate in Ohio.

Picture: Vanity Fair

Surprisingly, Ramaswamy announced his candidacy for the presidential race on February 21. His YouTube video launch depicts familiar political-ad visuals, showcasing scenes from a small-town church, workers, families, and children at play. The video transitions into a more critical tone, featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, climate activist Greta Thunberg, and transgender swimmer Lia Thomas. Ramaswamy’s voiceover voice warns against “COVIDism, climatism, and gender ideology.” The voiceover contends, “We hunger to be part of something bigger than ourselves yet we cannot even answer the question of what it means to be an American.”

The same day the video was released, Ramaswamy outlined his campaign themes on Tucker Carlson’s show. He expounded on core American values like meritocracy, self-governance, and free speech while highlighting how division, spurred by the left, has shifted focus to differences. Carlson commended him, stating, “I hope you’ll come back often, ‘cause you are one of the great talkers we’ve ever had.”

In the ensuing weeks, Ramaswamy embraced an inclusive approach to campaigning, engaging with anyone willing to converse, irrespective of potential detractors. Peter Christopher, a New Hampshire business owner attending Ramaswamy’s lunchtime event, expressed admiration: “He has an understanding of our culture today that he’s not afraid to share. And yet, the way he shares it is not in a way that other people have to be wrong.”

Apoorva Ramaswamy, the candidate’s spouse, emphasizes his enthusiasm for engaging with people, especially those holding opposing views. She notes his passion for being challenged and honing his arguments. Their initial meeting occurred in 2011 when he was attending Yale Law School. Apoorva remarks, “He loves being challenged, being forced to hone his arguments and his thought processes. That’s like his favorite hobby.”

Months of traversing the nation to engage with voters have passed, primarily through town hall meetings in early primary states. Ramaswamy ventures into unusual Republican campaign destinations, such as a Black barbershop in Chicago. These unique interactions generate social media buzz and distinguish him within the crowded Republican field. Paul Davis, a college friend maintaining contact throughout the campaign, reflects, “A lot of these candidates are very afraid of talking to the press… and they’re really worried about, ‘Oh, this outlet is biased, and they’re going to spin it this way, or that way, whatever.”

His educational journey brought him to a predominantly Black middle school in Milford, where he found himself among a diverse student body. He has shared an incident from his eighth-grade year when he was pushed down the stairs by another student, leading to surgery. This event marked a turning point as he transitioned to a Jesuit school, St. Xavier High School, where he became one of the few Indian students in a predominantly white class. In his valedictorian speech, he recollected feeling uncertain during freshman year mass, struggling with the lyrics and when to stand or sit. A sophomore religion class broadened his horizons, helping him explore various viewpoints and shape his own perspective. He expressed, “I’ll definitely remember emerging from St. X with a personal faith that was neither Catholic nor strictly Hindu, but was finally something that I could call my own,” addressing his fellow graduates.

Even during his teenage years, Ramaswamy’s warmth and sociability stood out, allowing him to discuss topics like local sports with ease. However, his unique background set him apart. Only recently did his former business partner, Anson Frericks, a friend from St. Xavier, realize he had been mispronouncing Ramaswamy’s first name for two decades. (The correct pronunciation rhymes with “cake.”) When confronted, Ramaswamy explained that as the only Indian student in an all-male Catholic high school, he grew accustomed to responding to whatever name people used. Frericks shared his perspective, saying, “He’s like, ‘Hey, you know, when you’re the only Indian kid at an all-male Catholic high school, you just take whatever you’re called.”

While pursuing a biology degree at Harvard, Ramaswamy engaged in a plethora of extracurricular activities, from playing club tennis to participating in the South Asian Association. He was deeply involved in leadership roles across various organizations and also explored his artistic side under the alias “Da Vek,” dabbling in rap. He held leadership positions in groups like the Harvard Political Union and the Institute for Politics, and he joined the Harvard Republican Club. He recalls, “I mostly, through college, considered myself a libertarian, a pretty staunch libertarian.”

Ramaswamy was unafraid to voice his opinions against prevailing campus liberalism or engage in debates with his right-leaning peers on issues such as Guantanamo prisoners’ treatment. A notable incident took place in 2007 when then-FBI Director Robert Mueller visited campus. Ramaswamy confronted Mueller with questions about external checks on the FBI with regard to civil liberties. Paul Davis, a friend from the same dorm, remarked, “He just kind of said what he thought about different topics, even if it pissed people off.”

During a trip to Las Vegas, Davis recounted an incident at a blackjack table that highlighted Ramaswamy’s pride in his American identity. When asked about his nationality, Ramaswamy responded, “I’m a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth, the United States of America.” This confident response resonated with the others at the table.

Davis likens his friend’s campaign strategy to that of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during his 2020 presidential campaign as the relatively unknown mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He notes that Ramaswamy’s approach is about confidently sharing his story across various platforms, despite the potential for unfavorable coverage. Davis acknowledges that while there may be risks involved, they are worth taking.

Starting in April, Ramaswamy has managed to produce over 50 episodes of a podcast called “The Vivek Show.” He engages in in-depth conversations with individuals from diverse political backgrounds, ranging from right-wing commentators like Glenn Beck to Democrat Tom Wolf, the former Governor of Pennsylvania. During these tapings, he turns off his phone—a rare moment of respite in his busy schedule. A second season of the podcast is set to launch in early fall, featuring interviews with figures like Papa John’s founder John Schnatter and Chaya Raichik, the operator of Libs of TikTok.

Ramaswamy’s political stance often leans hard-right: he advocates for cutting federal regulators, ending affirmative action, and argues that transgender children frequently grapple with unrelated mental health issues. However, he also deviates from the typical Republican mold. Although he personally identifies as “pro-life,” he stands out by not supporting a federal abortion ban. His proposals include banning social media for individuals under 16 and eliminating automatic voting rights for those under 25.

The forthcoming GOP presidential debate will offer a platform to present his views to a broader audience. Tricia McLaughlin, a senior advisor to Ramaswamy, notes that the campaign decided to skip traditional debate preparation in favor of maintaining their hectic travel schedule, which has been instrumental in connecting with voters. McLaughlin emphasizes that the campaign’s philosophy revolves around letting Ramaswamy be authentic.

The question of whether Trump participates in the debate introduces an unpredictable element. Ramaswamy has fervently pledged to pardon the former President, who has reciprocated with effusive praise. However, Trump has indicated that his support may shift if Ramaswamy’s poll numbers approach his own.

Ramaswamy remains optimistic about the future. He envisions a more directed campaign path after the first debate, focusing on the early primary states while incorporating more traditional approaches. As the SUV arrives at his next town-hall venue, Ramaswamy reflects on his connection with ordinary people. He reveals that he doesn’t indulge in lavish vacation homes but instead invests in private jets to save time.

After parting ways, the journalist searches for the mentioned interaction between Ramaswamy and Sharpton. A video from 2003 shows an 18-year-old Ramaswamy wearing a light-blue button-down shirt and a shiny watch, asking the first audience question on “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” He inquires why voters should choose the Democratic candidate with the least political experience. Sharpton responds with confidence, noting his extensive political engagement and social policy work over the past three decades.Ramaswamy listens with a grin, nodding in agreement as Sharpton speaks.

AI Disinformation Regulation And Its Global Implications

In the aftermath of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s third indictment, which includes accusations of spreading “pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud,” the inevitable surge of disinformation looms large. Trump has been fervently fanning the flames as the upcoming election season looms. In May, he disseminated a fabricated video depicting CNN host Anderson Cooper castigating President Joe Biden for ceaselessly perpetuating untruths.

Yet, Trump is not solitary in his imaginative storytelling. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, contending with Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, has also joined the ranks of creative spinners. DeSantis’ presidential campaign took to Twitter with a video advertisement showcasing AI-generated visuals of Trump engaging in affectionate gestures with Anthony Fauci, the former chief medical advisor and a polarizing figure on the far right. A separate counterfeit video, now viral, features former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing admiration for DeSantis, “He’s just the kind of guy this country needs, and I really mean that.”

Picture : Nature

The rise of disinformation has acquired a fresh impetus from artificial intelligence (AI), enabling the democratization of deceptive content creation. The advent of novel generative AI tools like DALL-E, Reface, and FaceMagic has effectively democratized political content generation. This phenomenon was further amplified by Meta’s recent revelation regarding its forthcoming generative AI technology for public utilization, potentially fueling an exponential surge in such “creative” disinformation.

The democratization of the disinformation process poses a profound menace to the already vulnerable U.S. democracy, a concern shared even by AI industry luminaries. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt cautioned against placing trust in visual or auditory information during elections due to AI manipulation. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, expressed his disquiet about AI’s potential impact on the trajectory of democracy.

Reacting to these concerns, legislators are taking decisive steps. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proposed an innovative framework for AI regulation aimed at averting a potential democratic erosion. Representative Yvette Clarke introduced legislation mandating politicians to disclose their use of AI in campaign ads, a proposal paralleled by similar bills under consideration in the Senate. Several states, including Michigan and Minnesota, are contemplating legislation that would criminalize the deliberate dissemination of false election-related information, and some lawmakers are even receptive to the notion of establishing an entirely new federal agency tasked with overseeing AI regulation.

However, the conundrum remains: the prospect of regulating AI to safeguard U.S. democracy could inadvertently imperil democracies on a global scale. This paradox becomes conspicuous when considering the potential repercussions of more strident regulatory efforts emanating from influential markets such as the United States and the European Union. The more stringent the regulations on disinformation in these regions, the higher the likelihood of unbridled dissemination elsewhere.

Multiple factors contribute to this complex paradox. The major social media platforms, the chief conduits of disinformation, have been progressively downsizing their disinformation detection teams. This has resulted in limited resources being primarily allocated to address concerns in the U.S. and EU. Consequently, there is a dearth of resources available for monitoring content in other regions, exacerbated by the platforms’ preoccupation with other exigencies. This challenge coincides with the tumultuous year of 2024, marked by a plethora of elections far beyond the confines of the United States.

Contemplating the electoral landscape of 2024 underscores its pivotal role in testing democratic systems worldwide. Nations across Asia, including India, Indonesia, and South Korea, grapple with their own disinformation-driven political campaigns. In Africa, over a dozen countries brace for elections, where disinformation frequently exerts significant influence. Similarly, Latin American nations like Mexico and Peru confront rampant disinformation challenges in the run-up to their forthcoming elections.

Against this backdrop, one might naturally expect social media platforms to establish dedicated election war rooms and robust disinformation identification mechanisms. However, the reality paints a different picture. Companies within the tech sector are grappling with pressing profitability concerns, prompting workforce reductions and streamlining of non-revenue-generating divisions. The focus inevitably shifts towards user attraction and enhancing engagement, relegating disinformation monitoring to a secondary concern.

The ascendancy of AI-propelled disinformation presents a multifaceted dilemma. While the urgency to regulate AI for safeguarding domestic democracy is apparent, the inadvertent consequence of inadvertently facilitating disinformation propagation elsewhere demands equal consideration. The delicate equilibrium between domestic security and global ramifications underscores the intricate challenges confronting lawmakers and regulators in addressing this pressing issue. As the world navigates the turbulent electoral landscape of 2024, achieving this balance becomes an imperative of unprecedented magnitude.

Why The Hindu Right Opposes Affirmative Action In The US

At the point when the US High Court as of late banned governmental policy regarding minorities in society in school affirmations, among those praising the second were areas of the Hindu right in America.

The Hindu Policy Research and Advocacy Collective (HinduPACT), for instance, was quick to tweet: “#RacialQuotas in ed. adversely impacted #IndianAmerican students. We welcome #AffirmativeAction ruling by the #SCOTUS”. HinduPACT is an advocacy group established by the US branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHPA) – an organisation known for its role in the rise of Hindu militancy in India.

However, for what reason does a gathering related with the Hindu patriot reasoning of Hindutva care about governmental policy regarding minorities in society in the US?


To some degree, it is an indication of a consistently developing kinship between US preservationists and diaspora Hindu patriots. However, similarly, it means that a hazardous obscuring of lines between legislative issues at home and abroad – and a work to close down analysis of verifiable and current oppression individuals from strict minorities and lower standings, in India as well as in the US.

For it is that separation that governmental policy regarding minorities in society looked to handle under the watchful eye of the High Court struck it down.

A unified governmental issues

However Indian Americans – like most migrant networks – proceed to generally uphold the Leftist alliance, fragments of the Indian diaspora have been revitalizing help for conservatives. That pattern has gotten forward momentum lately.

The Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), sent off in 2015 by Chicago-based finance manager Shalabh Kumar to construct a scaffold between Hindu Americans and the Conservative Faction, expectedly advocates for more modest, restricted government and lower charges. It accepts the public authority ought to deter single nurturing and early terminations and that fighting extremist Islam ought to be key to US international strategy.

Kumar by and by supported previous President Donald Trump’s position on prohibitive migration as well as his arrangements to construct a wall along the US-Mexico line.

Moderate arguments are additionally simple to recognize on the sites of gatherings like HinduPACT, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Hinduvesha, American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) and the VHPA. These are generally joined by analysis of American dissidents.

All of this filled in as the setting for Indian Top state leader Narendra Modi’s manly relationship with Trump, broadcast to the world through two uber rallies they kept intact – one in Houston, Texas in 2019, and the other in Ahmedabad, India in 2020.

At the point when numerous US administrators, particularly in the Progressive alliance, were raising worries about the Indian government’s for the time being repudiation of Kashmir’s naturally ensured semi-independent status, Trump and his organization stayed unflinching in their help for Modi.

The legend of ‘merit’

No place does this moderate conjunction appear as obviously as it does in training. The equals between the resistance to governmental policy regarding minorities in society from Hindutva bunches like HinduPACT and the feeling against station based training shares in India among numerous upper-position Hindus are striking.

In the two cases, this is situated as a fight for supposed merit – pandering to casteist and bigoted sayings to recommend that recipients of governmental policy regarding minorities in society or quantities are less meriting school seats. Disregarded, again in the two examples, are the long stretches of foundational treachery and oppression minorities, particularly African Americans, in the US and against individuals from lower positions in India, which makes any thought of a level battleground negligible.

In India, the people who contend against position based governmental policy regarding minorities in society appear to have acquired from the conservative idea of “turn around bigotry”, frequently heard in the US, when they contend that any reservations and portions for lower standings lead to “switch separation” or “converse casteism” against meriting understudies.

However, they seldom notice or recognize the uncontrolled rank based segregation as well as regular badgering and vilification looked by lower-standing understudies in establishments of advanced education, driving some like PhD researcher and Dalit dissident Rohith Chakravarthi Vemula to end their own life. In his splitting letter, he composed: ” My introduction to the world is my deadly mishap.”

In the US, this works out in the utilization by Hindutva gatherings of the Indian-American people group’s “model minority” picture to contend that it doesn’t need or need the help that other ethnic and racial minorities need.

In this, they advantageously conflate Hindu Americans and Indian Americans. The RHC promotes the way that Indian Americans have the “most noteworthy middle family pay” of every single ethnic gathering, are least subject to government support and have among the most elevated levels of training.

In an infographic on the “Direction of Hindus in America”, HinduPACT transfers a comparative message, adding that, “Indians skirted the ‘ghetto stage’ normal to most foreigner stories”.

However, following the High Court controlling, a Seat overview uncovered that most Indian Americans believed governmental policy regarding minorities in society to be something to be thankful for. Hindutva bunches have plainly fizzled, up to this point, to persuade them in any case.

In numerous ways, however, US governmental issues is the genuine objective these gatherings are hoping to impact and the point is to safeguard the interests of Hindu patriots in India.


Diaspora Hindu patriots have lately attempted to contend that Hindus are the casualties of broad and foundational separation, strict contempt, disgrace, slander and destructive savagery. The VHPA’s “Hinduvesha” drive blames significant colleges for developing “a biological system of researchers, funders, and diaries to sustain Hinduphobic grant”.

Hindutva bunches venture to such an extreme as to look at the segregation Hindus supposedly face universally with the defamation and abuse looked by Jews in Europe before the Holocaust.

On its site, HinduPACT contends that scrutinizing Hinduism for standing based separation is additionally proof of Hinduphobia. Hindutva bunches have gone against bills to boycott standing separation in California and the Seattle City Chamber, calling them Hinduphobic and claiming that the regulation would build dangers of harassing and viciousness looked by Indian Americans in schools and work environments.

Furthermore, after the St Paul City Chamber passed a goal in 2020 that was reproachful of the Modi government’s citizenship regulation changes which victimize Muslim refuge searchers, the VHPA gave an assertion saying that “the genuine motivation behind this goal is to make scorn for Hindus and individuals of Indian beginning dwelling in Minneapolis – St. Paul region”.

As a result, any analysis of the Modi government’s strategies in India is considered Hinduphobic in the US by these gatherings.

A risky future?

The impacts of this mission by Hindutva gatherings – against legislators, scholastics and ordinary residents went against to them – are apparent.

In 2019, after an article uncovered the developing impact of Hindu majoritarian governmental issues in the US, Ro Khanna, a Popularity based representative from Silicon Valley, tweeted: ” It’s the obligation of each and every American lawmaker of Hindu confidence to represent pluralism, reject Hindutva, and represent equivalent freedoms for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians”.

Assaults on him were prompt and relentless. After four years, Khanna seems to have mellowed. As a matter of fact, in the number one spot up to Modi’s visit to the US recently, he wrote a “bipartisan letter calling for Modi to address a joint seating of Congress”. He supported his choice to do as such by demanding that “the method for gaining ground on common liberties is to draw in with the Indian PM”.

In the midst of strain from Hindutva activists, the language of the California position segregation bill was likewise altered. Rather than position being a different class under the state’s non-segregation regulation as was initially planned, it was currently characterized as a “safeguarded class under the bigger umbrella of ‘lineage'”.

Hostile to charge activists praised this weakened form as a triumph, however the bill’s defenders demand the substance of the regulation remaining parts unaltered.

These are indications of a hazardous invasion of Hindu patriotism in American legislative issues.

Back in India, this philosophy has savagely separated a country and battered its majority rule government. Presently it’s adjusting itself against civil rights – whether on governmental policy regarding minorities in society or standing based separation – in the US, while attempting to menace pundits of the Indian government into quietness.

This is presently not simply India’s concern. It’s America’s as well.

India Day Parade In Queens, NY Attracts Large Crowds

The 8th Queens India Day Parade, which filled Hillside Avenue in tricolor, celebrated India’s 77th Independence Day with crowds lined up on both sides of the road to cheer on the marchers, who defied the scorching heat, and proclaimed the pride of Indian heritage with that country’s flag. The grand marshal was Kanishka Soni, an actress in Bollywood and a noted singer.

The parade started at 263rd Street on Hillside Avenue and ended at St. Gregory the Great School on 246th Street. The public meeting and cultural programs were held in the school auditorium. A large presence of women dressed in the colors of the flag was noticeable as more than twenty organizations and institutions marched with banners along with several floats.

Picture : TheUNN

The Floral Park – Bellerose Indian Merchants Association (FBIMA), the organizers of the parade hosted different communities and cultures at the parade. Association President Koshy O Thomas, Secretary Mary Philip, Chairman Subash Kapadia, founder leader Hemant Shah, Parade Committee Chair Dincil George, and others lined up in front of the parade. It was followed by a group of youths on bikes.

Members of the Uttar Pradesh Association of New York, Jain Temple of New York, Queens Village Republican Club, and many other organizations were among the participants in the parade. The accompaniment of chenda melam (drum beats) by teams Kerala Cultural Association, Syro Malabar Church, and Drum Beats of Long Island added to the festivities.

Several organizations including the Federation of Malayalee Associations of Americas (FOMAA), Federation of Kerala Associations of North America (FOKANA), World Malayali Council, Indian Nurses Association, Indian Overseas Congress, etc. participated with attractive floats and won praises. The Nurses Association float was the most attractive with women dressed in the tricolor were accompanied by a woman dressed as Bharata Mata.

New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, who is running for US Congress from Congressional District 4, joined the parade and greeted the people. Biju Chacko, who is running as legislator from Nassau County District 13, and James Chow, who is running for New York City Council from Queens’ 23rd District, were also joined the parade. Chow will face Linda Lee, the incumbent in District 23.

Picture : TheUNN

Dr. Jacob Thomas, president, led the float of FOMAA, while Dr. Kala Shahi, general secretary, led the float of FOKANA. Thomas Mottackal, global president of World Malayalee Council, Dr. Anna George of the Indian Nurses Association of New York, Dr. Thomas Mathew of ECHO, Leela Maret of Indian Overseas Congress along with New York Malayalee Sports Club and Pioneer Club of Keralites in North America joined the parade.

The Queens Republican Committee participated in the parade in full force. They carried a pro-Trump flag. Hillside shops supplied water, buttermilk and soft drinks to the marchers who appreciated the gesture during the scorching heat.

Besides, Leela Maret, Indian Overseas Congress Vice-Chair George Abraham, President Mohinder Singh Gilzian, and other leaders gathered at the Indian Overseas Congress float.

Earlier, the meeting and performances were held at the Open Stage at Padawan-Feller Park on 263 Street. Although the new venue reduced travel distance, it was felt the old   open-air stadium was more suitable. The old place had spacious tents and stalls, which was lacking in the new venue. Fr. John Thomas from the Orthodox Church recited the opening prayer. He prayed a non-religious for prosperity and peace in both countries.

Many local political and social leaders also participated in the meeting, including Senator John Liu and District Attorney Melinda Katz. New York City Mayor Eric Adams was the chief guest who described his Indian connection with pride to a standing ovation. He recalled visiting Gandhi Memorial during his visit to India. He noted that Gandhi’s last footprints were engraved there. That footprint carries a message. We should continue Gandhiji’s journey from where he left off.

‘When gun violence continues, our brothers live homeless, and people’s rights are denied, Gandhi’s dreams are thwarted. Gandhi taught us to stand for the oppressed and the suffering. We are bound to follow that path.’ He expressed satisfaction that now on New York City schools get a holiday for Diwali.

Jennifer Rajkumar, the first Indian American woman elected to the New York State Assembly, said that Mayor Adams was described as an Indian Mayor. Adams is a vegetarian who loves Indian food and is also a fan of Gujarati dance ‘Garba.’ He is a person who goes to the temple on Sunday and then to the gurudwara. We have been pushing for Diwali school holidays in New York City for decades. Many said it was impossible. But Mayor Adams didn’t just say it was possible; he made it happen. She also noted that she is the first Hindu elected to the state assembly.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards praised the Indians for their work and service to the community. He also pointed out that the African American people gained many rights in the civil rights movement inspired by Gandhi. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz highlighted the diversity of Queens. ‘There is no other place where people from so many countries live together.’

Koshy Thomas, thanked the Government, the City, and the Indian Consulate for their support. He also thanked the organizations and people for joining the parade. He pointed out that many people from Pennsylvania and New Jersey came to the parade. He expressed special thanks to Mayor Adams for his leadership and support to the Indian community. Parade Chair Dincil George also spoke.

Ramaswamy Ties Desantis For Second Place In GOP Primary

Indian American entrepreneur turned politician Vivek Ramaswamy is tied with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)  for second place in the Republican presidential field in a new poll. An Emerson College poll showed DeSantis and Ramaswamy tied at 10 percent each, trailing former President Trump, who leads with 56 percent. DeSantis kept his position in second place from previous polls, but he registered a big drop from the 21 percent he had in June. Ramaswamy rose from just 2 percent then.

According to reports, the poll’s release comes as a leaked memo from the super PAC supporting DeSantis’ candidacy, Never Back Down, urged DeSantis to “take a sledgehammer” to Ramaswamy. Some polling has shown Ramaswamy closing in on DeSantis for second place, and the memo appears to acknowledge a few other candidates also gaining momentum behind the Florida governor.

“Another boring, establishment attack from Super PAC-creation ‘Robot Ron’ who is literally taking lame, pre-programmed attack lines against me for next week’s debate. ‘Hammer Ramaswamy,’” Ramaswamy responded to the memo on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball said in a release that Ramaswamy has made improvements in voters with postgraduate degrees, taking 17 percent of that group, and with younger voters, winning 16 percent of those younger than 35.

The release states that DeSantis’s drop is similar to that of Emerson’s New Hampshire poll that showed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) surpassing DeSantis by 1 point for second place in the state, a statistical tie.

Pollsters also found somewhat more shaky support among DeSantis supporters than among those for Ramaswamy. Almost half of Ramaswamy backers said they will definitely vote for him, while only a third of DeSantis supporters said the same.  Meanwhile, more than 80 percent of Trump supporters said they will definitely vote for the former president.

DeSantis, Ramaswamy and several other GOP presidential candidates will have their clearest opportunity yet to stand out on a national stage at the first Republican primary debate next week, especially with Trump seemingly planning to skip it.

More than 80 percent of Republican primary voters said they plan to watch the debate.  The poll was conducted from Aug. 16 to 17 among 1,000 registered voters, including 465 who said they plan to vote in their state’s Republican primary or caucus. The credibility interval was 3 points.

On the ground, Ramaswamy has styled his politics on the agendas of the two men he hopes to usurp, making his stand against the “woke” ideology of the American left his signature policy issue. “We are in the middle of a national identity crisis,” he says darkly, accusing the country’s elites of metastasizing a “cultural cancer” — particularly when it comes to LGBTQ issues. His message has found an appreciative audience, and his book, “Woke, Inc.,” in which he develops this thesis, is currently near the top of the New York Times list of bestselling nonfiction.

While some candidates are beginning to aim their fire at former president Donald Trump, the 38-year-old Ramaswamy has moved toward the front of the chasing pack by placing himself firmly in the frontrunner’s slipstream. “I think I’m best positioned to advance our America First agenda, take it even further than Trump did, but also unite the country in the process,” the multimillionaire biotech entrepreneur recently told public broadcaster PBS.

Ramaswamy trails Trump by a seemingly unbridgeable gap, but he has spent millions of his own money in his bid to be best placed should the presumptive nominee fall by the wayside amid his growing tangle of legal problems. And the first-time candidate, a father of two young children, has been rewarded with higher poll numbers than most of his more experienced rivals.

A political novice by any measure, Ramaswamy started his campaign with no national profile but has shocked primary watchers by rising to second in the Republican primary field, five months ahead of the first vote in Iowa.

Trump’s Georgia Election Indictment Highlights Attempts To Illegally Access Voting Equipment

(AP) — A day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, as the country was still reeling from the violent attempt to halt the transfer of presidential power, a local Republican Party official greeted a group of computer experts outside the election office in a rural county in south Georgia, where they were given access to voting equipment.

Their intent was to copy software and data from the election systems in an attempt to prove claims by President Donald Trump and his allies that voting machines had been rigged to flip the 2020 election to his challenger, Democrat Joe Biden, according to a wide-ranging indictment issued late Monday.

Several of those involved are among the 19 people, including the former president, charged with multiple counts in what Georgia prosecutors describe as a “conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump.”

The charges related to the breach of election equipment in Coffee County highlight that the pressure campaign by the former president and his allies didn’t stop with state officials and lawmakers, but extended all the way down to local government. Relying on Georgia’s racketeering law, the type of prosecution more typically associated with mobsters, the indictment alleges the events in Coffee County were part of a wider effort by Trump associates to illegally access voting equipment in multiple states.

“The one thing that Coffee County shows, and these other counties as well, is that the effort behind Jan. 6 didn’t stop on Jan. 6,” said Lawrence Norden, an election security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s School of Law. “The ongoing effort to undermine and sabotage elections has continued.”

The security breach inside the election office in Coffee County, about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta, is among the first known attempts by Trump allies to access voting systems as they sought evidence to back up their unsubstantiated claims that such equipment had manipulated the presidential vote. It was followed a short time later by breaches in three Michigan counties involving some of the same people and again in a western Colorado county that Trump won handily.

While the county-level equipment breaches have raised alarms about election data falling into the wrong hands and prompted two other prosecutions, they were absent from the recent federal indictment of Trump alleging interference in the 2020 election. The Georgia case is the first to argue that the breaches were part of a conspiracy by Trump and his allies to overturn the results.

Four people face six counts related to the breach in Coffee County, including conspiracy to commit election fraud, conspiracy to commit computer theft and conspiracy to defraud the state. They are lawyer and Trump ally Sidney Powell, former Coffee County elections director Misty Hampton, former Coffee County GOP Chair Cathy Latham, who also served as a false elector for Trump, and Scott Graham Hall, an Atlanta-area bail bondsman who prosecutors say is associated with longtime Trump adviser David Bossie.

A lawyer for Powell declined comment, while messages seeking responses from the others were not immediately returned.

Although Trump continues to promote his claims about the election, multiple reviews, audits and recounts in the battleground states where he disputes his loss — including in Georgia, which counted the presidential ballots three times — have confirmed Biden’s win. Trump’s claims also were rejected by dozens of judges, including several he appointed. His attorney general and an exhaustive review by The Associated Press found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have changed the results.

After the 2020 election, Trump and Powell pushed various conspiracy theories about voting machines, specifically related to the Dominion Voting Systems equipment used in Georgia. Dominion earlier this year reached a $787 million settlement with Fox News over false claims aired on the network, including by Powell.

Court documents in Georgia show Powell hired a forensic data firm on Dec. 6, 2020, to collect and analyze Dominion equipment in Michigan and elsewhere, and prosecutors allege the breach of election equipment in Coffee County was “subsequently performed under this agreement.”

On Jan. 7, 2021, Hall and employees of the data firm traveled to the election office to copy software and data from voting equipment and were greeted outside by GOP official Latham and then taken on a tour of the office by elections director Hampton, according to the indictment and video surveillance obtained in an unrelated case about Georgia’s electronic voting machines.

Picture: WWNY

Later videos showed Hampton opening the office on Jan. 18, when it was otherwise closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. She allowed in Douglas Logan and Jeff Lenberg, both of whom have been active nationally in efforts to challenge the 2020 election and were part of the effort to examine voting machines in Michigan.

Neither Logan or Lenberg were charged in Monday’s indictment.

Logan’s company, Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based firm with little election experience, was later hired by GOP lawmakers in Arizona to conduct a review of the 2020 election in Maricopa County. It ultimately confirmed Biden’s win but claimed to find various irregularities — claims that election experts said were inaccurate, misleading or based on a flawed understanding of the data.

In Coffee County, the men worked late into the evening, returning the following day. Lenberg also was seen at the office on at least three more days later that month, according to information collected in the separate voting machine lawsuit. Hampton resigned soon after their visits amid allegations of fraudulent timesheets.

This week’s indictment also mentions a Dec. 18, 2020, session in the Oval Office, where Trump allies including Powell and Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, proposed ordering the military to seize voting machines and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of voter fraud in Georgia and other battleground states Trump lost.

In Michigan, authorities have charged three people in connection with breaches in three counties, including former Republican state attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno, who along with the others has pleaded not guilty.

So far, the special counsel assigned to the case has not charged any of the employees who handed over the voting equipment nor has he charged those who were asked to analyze them. In a statement, the special counsel said they had been deceived.

With Monday’s indictment, Hampton becomes the second top county election official to be charged in connection with a security breach in their office. The first was Tina Peters, the former clerk in Mesa County, Colorado, who has emerged as a prominent figure among those who say voting machines are rigged. Both are no longer working in elections.

Prosecutors allege Peters and her deputy were part of a “deceptive scheme” to provide unauthorized access to the county’s voting systems during a May 2021 breach that eventually resulted in a copy of the voting system hard drive being posted online.

Weeks afterward, Peters appeared at an event hosted by Trump ally Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO who has been seeking to prove the 2020 election was stolen and has called for a ban on voting machines.

Peters has denied wrongdoing and faces trial later this year, Her deputy pleaded guilty to lesser charges as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Experts have described the unauthorized Colorado release as serious, saying it could provide a “practice environment” that would allow anyone to probe for vulnerabilities that could be exploited during a future election. Experts also worry it could be used to spread misinformation about voting equipment.

Colorado’s chief election official, Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold, said accountability is crucial to deterring any future attempts to illegally access voting systems. “We cannot allow election officials to destroy elections from within,” she said.

Indian American Judge Moxila Upadhyaya Presides Over Trump Arraignment

Former US President Donald Trump appeared in federal court on August 3, facing charges related to his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Former US President Donald Trump appeared in the US District Court in Washington in connection with charges of his alleged attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. The charges were filed as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the matter.

Trump is facing a total of four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights. The former President appeared before Indian American Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya, who presided over his third arraignment.

Picture : TheUNN

Judge Upadhyaya served as a law clerk to Eric T. Washington, former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. She also practised complex commercial and administrative litigation at Venable LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. Upadhyay dedicated her pro bono efforts to representing indigent clients in post-conviction proceedings.

Throughout her career, Upadhyaya has been actively involved in the legal community. She served as the co-chair of the D.C. Bar Litigation Section Steering Committee and contributed to organizations such as the D.C. Access to Justice Foundation and Council for Court Excellence. Her commitment to upholding the law and ensuring access to justice has made her a respected figure in the legal sphere.

Judge Upadhyaya, who traces her roots to the Gujarat state of India received a Bachelor of Journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Latin from the University of Missouri. She went on to earn her J.D. from the American University, Washington College of Law, where she earned accolades for her trial work and was a valued member of the Administrative Law Review.

Trump Indicted On Jan. 6 Charges

Former President Trump was indicted Tuesday by a Washington grand jury on charges stemming from his efforts to remain in power after losing the 2020 election.

The 45-page indictment from special counsel Jack Smith puts Trump at the center of a lawless campaign to block the transfer of power, charging him with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and other crimes.

At its core, the Justice Department contends Trump embarked on a campaign of “dishonesty, fraud and conceit” to obstruct a “bedrock function” of a democracy — the counting of votes — generating charges for conspiracy to defraud the U.S.

Picture : PBS

“Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won,” the indictment states.

“These claims were false, and the Defendant knew that they were false,” it continues. “But the Defendant repeated and widely disseminated them anyway—to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense national atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

That lie was the basis for charges on four counts, alleging Trump was the director of a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and was also central to a campaign to block the certification of votes on Jan. 6.

That campaign spurred charges for obstruction of an official proceeding, the same charge brought against many of those who followed Trump’s Jan. 6 rally call for action and later stormed the Capitol in a deadly rampage.

The indictment also says Trump’s violated the rights of millions of Americans to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice, a right enshrined in the Constitution but further protected from “Conspiracy Against Rights.”

The indictment indicates that Trump will be charged alongside six co-conspirators who, though unnamed, point to a series of close advisers to the former president.

The assertion that Trump knew he lost advances the case beyond was what laid out by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — an allegation the panel made but was not fully able to prove.

The indictment breaks down a series of incidents in which allies who either supported Trump or “who personally stood to gain by remaining in office” like Vice President Mike Pence, informed Trump that he had lost the election and there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could unwind the results.

“Defendant was notified repeatedly that his claims were untrue — often by the people on whom he relied for candid advice on important matters, and who were best positioned to know the facts — and he deliberately disregarded the Truth,” the indictment states.

Title: From N.P. (Nani Palkhivala) to N.P. (Naipaul, V.S.): Observations through the eyes of an overseas citizen of India

Synopsis: The author, an ophthalmologist who has lived abroad (in England and the USA) longer than in India, has visited India more than 120 times since 1977. Each visit was a working vacation to combat avoidable blindness among Indians, especially children.  He founded “Eye Foundation of America” in 1979 who is active in India and 21 other developing countries.

As an avid reader of non-medical subjects, he discovered the extraordinary books by Nani and also the books by Nobel Laureate V.S. Naipaul. Nani brought to his readers the best of India and its roots, while also pointing out many shortcomings of present-day India. Naipaul criticizes India (and even its roots) with remarks that are both explosive and cruel.

In spite of their contrasting perspectives, the writings of both N.P. and N.P. contain elements of truth. The author (V.K.R.), while expressing his gratefulness to Mother India for giving him the best medical education almost for free, will attempt to discuss the voluminous historical and philosophical material in these books and to connect them with present-day India.

Finally, the author’s own account, “The Tragedy of Childhood Blindness in India,” illustrates numerous points—the good, the bad, and the ugly—from both Nani and Naipaul.

Vivek Ramaswamy Emerges As A Strong Contender 

Vivek Ramaswamy has emerged as something of a breakout star in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, raising speculation over his future within the party.

Many Republicans have praised the 37-year-old biotech entrepreneur, calling him an effective communicator with an impressive professional resume for a political outsider.

The biotech entrepreneur and author of “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam” is an audience favorite at multicandidate events and has polled well despite not being nationally known when he entered the race.

“Take it from me as a young person — I’m 37 years old. I was born in 1985. I truly hope and pray and believe that my best days may still be ahead of me,” he said at the Faith and Freedom conference in Washington, D.C. in June.

Ramaswamy’s campaign says he met the donor threshold earlier this year. This summer he rolled out “Vivek’s Kitchen Cabinet” to boost his donor numbers even more, by letting fundraisers keep 10% of what they bring in for his campaign.

While there’s heavy scepticism that Ramaswamy will win any of the early-state primaries, many see him as a rising figure within the party’s ranks.

Picture : MediaLite

“I think that his message is resonating well with the Republican activist crowd, and he is being positive enough with regards to [former President] Trump to basically be an alternative without being an anti-Trump guy,” said GOP strategist and former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis.

“I think that resonates with many of the Trump supporters and let’s say soft Trump supporters who would like to move on, but yet see somebody who’s not running kind of on a message of attacking Trump and his legacy,” he added.

Initially considered a long-shot candidate when he launched his campaign in February, the “Woke, Inc.” author entered the race known in part for his staunch opposition to environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policies.

But the political outsider and first millennial to run for president on the GOP side has started to catch some momentum in the GOP primary.

He’s garnered attention for some of his stances and proposals, including pushing every candidate in the GOP primary to commit to pardoning Trump over the Justice Department’s indictment alleging the former president mishandled and obstructed attempts to retrieve classified documents. Other Republican contenders like Perry Johnson have also vowed to pardon the former president.

Earlier this month, Ramaswamy gained some praise after a video went viral of him engaging with a protester who interrupted his Iowa event. After the woman turned to leave after interrupting his remarks, Ramaswamy offered for her to come back to ask a question.

“There is a division in our country and I think people are hungry to start talking openly again, and I think Vivek has a unique skill that he’s able to really lead people and rally people around what this country was founded upon, which is free speech, which is an open debate,” said Ramaswamy campaign senior adviser Tricia McLaughlin.

“I think that’s what not only the GOP electorate is hungry for, but I think independents and even disaffected Democrats,” she added.

National polling, too, suggests voters are starting to give Ramaswamy a serious look.

A RealClearPolitics polling average shows Ramaswamy placing third at 5.4 percent, behind Trump in first place with 52.4 percent and DeSantis at 18.4 percent.

Still, most national polls show the biotech entrepreneur in the single digits compared to Trump, who remains the front-runner in surveys. Some early state polls in New Hampshire and South Carolina show Ramaswamy trailing some of the other GOP candidates, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.).

Republicans also acknowledge more GOP voters will start to tune into the primary around next month’s debate in Milwaukee and note there’s still months to go until the first early states’ primaries.

Not all Republicans are buying the Ramaswamy hype. GOP pollster and consultant Whit Ayres said the GOP millennial is “not a serious contender for the presidency” and waved off Ramaswamy’s recent polling.

“It’s a sign just like Herman Cain caught something in 2011 and Ben Carson caught something in 2015 and Andrew Yang caught something in 2020,” Ayres said, referring to presidential candidates who appeared to have momentum at one point in their primary before sputtering out.

New Hampshire-based strategist Matthew Bartlett similarly suggested that Ramaswamy doesn’t have a viable path to the presidency. Putting it bluntly, Bartlett said, “No one is expecting him to win,” and he said he didn’t see Ramaswamy going after the former president in the primary but was “looking to cozy up to Trump.”

“His campaign was not looking to end up in the Oval Office. His campaign was to promote himself and to some degree, his ideas and articulate that,” he added.

But that hasn’t stopped members of the party from suggesting that Ramaswamy could have a bright future ahead, saying he could run for Senate, be picked for a presidential cabinet position or even selected as someone’s running mate.

“There’s so many people even after the Family Leadership Summit [who] said, ‘Boy, what a young, positive, inspirational guy. He has a bright future. He’d be good in somebody’s cabinet. He might be a vice president,’” explained Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of the influential Family Leader in Iowa.

“His biggest hurdle right now is crossing that threshold where people say, ‘No, I think he can be president.’ So he’s gotten a lot of people excited about his candidacy. Now he needs to make that transition: ‘Now they can see me be president,’” he added.

Ramaswamy for his part has previously said he’s not interested in being a vice presidential pick or taking a cabinet position, saying he’d return to the private sector instead if he didn’t win the GOP presidential primary. But his campaign argues he shouldn’t be underestimated.

“I think Vivek has already done what everyone said he couldn’t do. The fact that he is beating … the most former vice president, multiple governors, the former U.N. ambassador, a sitting senator … four or five months ago, no one knew who Vivek Ramaswamy is,” McLaughlin, the senior Ramaswamy campaign adviser, said. “And now he’s third in national polls. That in itself is meteoric.”

Republican strategists, too, say that while Trump is still the front-runner in the primary, a strong showing in Iowa can help galvanize a candidate heading into the next few states.

“I wouldn’t count anyone out that’s coming in the top three in Iowa,” said GOP strategist Alice Stewart, who’s an alum of multiple presidential campaigns. “And the objective of Iowa has never been to choose the party nominee, it’s to winnow the field.”

The Trump Indictment For History To Remember

The criminal indictment of ex-President Donald Trump for his alleged attempts to subvert democracy and incite the Jan. 6, 2021, melee in Washington has been a long time coming. Now that it’s here, two-and-a-half years after a mob listened to Trump, marched about a mile eastward, and ransacked the U.S. Capitol in service of his lies about a stolen 2020 election, it hits a little different than the charges previously brought against Trump.

A federal grand jury on Tuesday charged Trump with an alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States, a conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and a conspiracy against voting rights. The charges are a remarkable escalation of the legal troubles chasing Trump during what he hopes is a brief return to civilian life. Trump, who is running for President again in 2024 and is the runaway front-runner in the Republican field, could face years in prison if convicted. Now Trump has made history once again, becoming a thrice-indicted ex-Commander in Chief. Well, at least if the normal rules of political gravity still matter. History is being made, but not all history is good.

It was a day a lot of the folks who experienced the attack in Washington on Jan. 6 had been seeking for a long time. The wall-to-wall coverage on cable, the constant refreshes of social-media sites, and even the text chains around Capitol Hill all reflected an anxiety that this may be a false start. It will be similar when Trump is due in court on Thursday in D.C.

Picture : Vanity Fair

Politicos of both parties in D.C. watched in horror more than two years ago as a riot descended on Capitol Hill, the mob raiding offices, menacing lawmakers, and fighting hand-to-hand combat with police. The top leadership of both chambers followed evacuation protocols to make sure their branch of government wouldn’t be decapitated. Vice President Mike Pence was pinned down and forced to hide at a loading dock while White House aides unsuccessfully lobbied Trump to direct his legion of followers to stop terrorizing democracy. Partisanship fades when Hill staffers talk about that day, even if many of their bosses have publicly retreated from prior criticism of Trump and sought to shade the painful facts.

The Trump years numbed the country to the word “unprecedented,” amid the constant reverberations of history being made. From the day Trump took office as the only person ever elected to the presidency with zero government or military experience, around every corner came norm-breaking and precedent-smashing. His tweets broke the fourth wall, he was the only President impeached twice, became the first in 150 years to refuse to attend his successor’s inauguration, and his Administration paid so little heed to laws prohibiting politicking on the government dime that he held the Republican convention on the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump’s team has already started telling allies on the Hill that these latest indictments will not matter at all for his reelection hopes. Republicans cite “indictment fatigue,” hoping to plant the idea that voters don’t much care about it and have already accepted that Trump is a bad dude who doesn’t play by the rules. It’s going to be “Old News!” on the socials and “Witch Hunt!” in the hallways. The messaging leaves responsible conservatives squeamish, but they’ll still carry it for fear of being branded insufficiently MAGA, and thus vulnerable in a primary from someone who wears the red hat proudly.

Trump’s past two indictments suggest this one may, perversely, benefit him as well. The aftermath of those charges—totaling at least 78 felony allegations and counting—brought a fundraising boon and a polling surge . That’s right: the self-described billionaire will collect millions in donations from his fans who see the real estate mogul as a victim of a weaponized Justice Department. His best days of fundraising have been his worst ones legally.

It’s worth taking a beat to appreciate how casually we all blew through the phrase “past two indictments” in the previous paragraph. And the fact that a former President now accused of a “conspiracy to defraud the United States” remains the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s re-nomination next year. A thrice-indicted, convicted sexual abuser, alleged election interferer and wealth fabulist is on course to coast to the general election, past capable governors, investors, ambassadors, and even his own former Vice President. Trump could still return to power facing federal charges and, in turn, dodge accountability for any of his alleged misdeeds. (This is why the state-based cases, where Trump will lack pardon powers, may be the real places to watch.)

But that doesn’t mean the next year-plus will be easy for Trump. His troubles are as epic as they are history-making—and, maybeincompatible with his campaign schedule. Trump is due in court in October to answer a $250 million civil lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General on allegations the Trumps falsified business records. He is scheduled to begin a New York County criminal trial in March of next year on 34 charges that he falsified Trump Organization business records to pay off a porn star.

A federal judge ruled on July 19 the case in Manhattan should continue there, and not be moved into the federal track. Trump was arraigned last month on charges he had classified documents at his Florida vacation club and defied subpoenas to return them, a case also brought by special counsel Smith. He pleaded not guilty to 37 charges. Another three were added last week. A trial date could start in May in Florida.

On top of all of this, Trump faces potential criminal charges of election tampering in Georgia for a call asking the state’s balloting chief to change the winner; an indictment has been considered imminent in a county-based case since February, and a new grand jury was seated last week. A decision, it seems, is imminent.

Yet, somehow, there remains a better-than-even-odds chance he squirms out of any consequences, which would leave a lot of the witnesses to the chaos of Jan. 6 deeply skeptical about the evenhandedness of the criminal justice system if not dejected and cynical. After all, a high-wattage series of congressional hearings last year into Trump’s conduct surrounding the riot resulted in a collective shrug, and two impeachment trials—one of which was also about Jan. 6—failed to deliver convictions.

Those earlier indictments cut some parts of Trump’s clout down to size. But those haven’t yet been enough to take him down, because Presidents stand like giants. That may be changing, as instead of standing with Sequoia-like titans like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, the Trump sapling is being cut into a stump. With this latest indictment, which is a federal criminal probe that goes beyond fibbing on tax forms and mishandling spycraft files and includes a bodycount, Trump has few chances to rise to his predecessor’s heights, at least beyond a shady corner of his partisan bonfire. It’s why Tuesday’s indictment is not like the earlier ones: it may be the one cited in the first line of future history books. He may well dodge jail time, but even the one-time most-powerful person on the planet cannot escape the accountability of historians.

Indian-American Democrats Support Vivek Ramaswamy Amid Attacks On His Hindu Faith

Indian-American Democrats Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna have come out in support of Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy over an attack on his Hindu faith.  At a public event, Hank Kunneman, the senior pastor of the non-denominational Lord of Hosts Church in Omaha, Nebraska and a televangelist targeted Ramaswamy’s faith in an attempt to prevent people from voting for him.

According to a video posted on Twitter by Right Wing Watch, Kunneman said that as a country, America is in danger. “Listen to me Generation Z, listen to me millennials, those of you who are watching that like this new young guy (Ramaswamy). If he does not serve the Lord Jesus Christ and stand primarily for Judeo-Christian principles, you will have a fight with God.

“You’re gonna have some dude put his hand on something other than the Bible? You’re gonna let him put all of his strange gods up in the White House and we’re just supposed to blink because he understands policies?” Kunneman was heard saying in the video. “Those of you that like this new young guy — if he does not serve the Lord Jesus Christ and stand primarily for Judeo-Christian principles, you will fight with God…”

Reacting to Kunneman’s disparaging comments, Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna said they don’t agree much with Ramaswamy but condemned the “bigoted remarks” against the 37-year-old.

“I don’t agree with @VivekGRamaswamy on much, but one thing is certain: all political parties in America should welcome individuals of all faiths, including Hindus. I condemn the bigoted remarks directed toward Ramaswamy, and I hope that Republican electeds and others do the same,” Krishnamoorthi tweeted on Tuesday.

“I have had spirited disagreements with @VivekGRamaswamy. But this is a disgusting and anti-American attack on his faith. We are a nation of many faiths, & the fact that so many Christian American Republicans are willing to support Vivek speaks to that ideal,” Khanna said in his tweet.

Seen as former President Donald Trump’s supporter, Kunneman calls himself a “prophet” and had said earlier that Trump’s 2020 election loss was God’s way of refuting prophets on Earth.

Ramaswamy was raised by Indian immigrants and is a practicing Hindu, which poses a dilemma for some conservative Christian voters who make up a significant share of the Republican primary electorate and are accustomed to evaluating candidates not just on their policy proposals but also on their biographies and personal beliefs, including religious faith.

“I’m not Christian. I was not raised in a Christian household. But we do share the same Christian values that this nation was founded on,” the Republican presidential hopeful had said in one of his campaign events.

In his address to prospective voters, Ramaswamy often rues that faith, patriotism, hard work and family “have disappeared, only to be replaced by new secular religions in this country”.

In response to a query on faith at a gathering in Nashua, New Hampshire on July 11, Ramaswamy said that the US was founded on Judeo-Christian values.  He clarified, “I am not running to be a pastor-in-chief. I am running to be our commander-in-chief.”

Hirsh Vardhan Singh Of New Jersey Announces Bid For US President

Filing his candidacy, Hirsh Vardhan Singh, an Aerospace engineer from New Jersey, has become the fourth Indian-American to enter the race for 2024 US Presidential Polls. On Thursday, July 27, 2023, he formally submitted his candidature to the Federal Election Commission.

He is the third Indian American to join numerous Republicans vying for their party’s endorsement to run for President. The other two are former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, Singh posted a video and said he is a “lifelong Republican” and “America First” conservative who worked to restore a conservative wing of the New Jersey Republican Party. In the video, he criticized the “corruption” of Big Tech and pharmaceutical firms, saying they had “relentlessly attacked our freedoms.”

“We need strong leadership to reverse the changes that have occurred in the past few years and restore American values. That is why I have decided to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2024 election for the office of president of the United States,” Singh said in his video, according to The Hill.

With a dozen contenders vying for the Republican nomination, including former president Trump, Singh joins a crowded field.
Singh entered the Republican primaries for New Jersey governor in 2017 and 2021, a House seat in 2018, and the Senate in 2020, but he was unable to secure the party’s nod.

Aerospace engineer Hirsh Vardhan Singh has become the third Indian-American vying for the Republican nomination for the 2024 US presidential race after former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.

Singh joins a crowded list of Republican candidates vying for presidency, which includes Trump, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governer Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Ramaswamy, Haley, Senator Tim Scott and businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley.

Singh, 38, introduced himself as a lifelong Republican and an “America First constitutional carry and pro-life conservative who helped restore the conservative wing of New Jersey’s Republican Party starting in 2017” in a video message posted on Twitter on Thursday.

He ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2020, and the present bid is the fourth time the defense and aerospace industry executive is eyeing public office.

According to Singh, Americans face grave threats from the corruption of both, big tech and big pharma, and in addition, there is an all out attack on American family values, parental rights and open debate.

“While Big Pharma has made massive profits working with the government to compel everyone to take the experimental vaccines, Big Tech has become the Big Brother, who invades our privacy and indulges in censorship of our political and contrarian viewpoints,” her said in an over three-minute-long video.

“We need strong leadership to restore American values. That is why I have decided to seek the Republican Party’s nomination for the 2024 election,” he added.

While praising fellow Republican candidate Donald Trump as the “greatest president of my lifetime”, Singh said that “America needs more”.

“It is time to move past outdated politicians of a bygone era,” Singh said, calling himself the “only pure blood candidate for the President” as he never gave in to the Covid vaccinations. “Even New Jersey’s Democrat Senate President labelled me as ‘Trump on steroids,” he said in his video message.

According to a recent Morning Consult poll, 59 per cent of voters support Trump, 16 per cent would vote for DeSantis, 8 per cent to Ramaswamy, 6 per cent to Pence, and 2 per cent to Scott.

Born to Indian immigrant parents, Singh has a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2009. Entering New Jersey politics in 2017 as a candidate for Governor, Singh finished third in the race, securing a meagre 9.8 per cent of the vote share.

He was awarded Aviation Ambassador in 2003 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. (IANS)

Vivek Ramaswamy Leans Into His Hindu Faith to Court Christian Voters

This spring, Bristol Smith, a manager at a McDonald’s in Maryville, Tennessee, came across the name Vivek Ramaswamy shortly after the entrepreneur Mr. Ramaswamy announced that he was running for president. Mr. Smith was drawn in. He liked Mr. Ramaswamy’s plan to send the military to the southern border to fight drug cartels and the way he “stands up against the wokeness.” He regarded Mr. Ramaswamy’s insight as a money manager worth countless dollars.

Then, at that point, Mr. Smith, 25, looked for Mr. Ramaswamy’s confidence. Mr. Smith is an evangelical Christian who recently established a modest church at his parents’ house.

He recalled, “I looked up his religion and saw he is Hindu.” I planned to decide in favor of him until that surfaced.” Mr. Smith believes that the nation needs to be “put back under God,” and he doesn’t want to risk it with a non-Christian.

By then, he said, “I got back on President Trump’s train.”

Mr. Ramaswamy, 37, is a practicing Hindu who was brought up in India by immigrants. Some conservative Christian voters, who make up a significant portion of the Republican primary electorate and are accustomed to evaluating candidates not only based on their policy proposals but also on their biographies and personal beliefs, including religious faith, face a dilemma as a result of this.

A candidate’s faith is a sign of a candidate’s values, lifestyle, loyalties, and priorities as a leader for many conservative voters. It’s the classic Sunday morning question about which candidate you’d like to have a beer with most: Who is a good fit for your church?

“It’s another obstacle individuals need to cross to go to him,” Weave Vander Plaats, a powerful fervent forerunner in Iowa, said of Mr. Ramaswamy.

Mr. Vander Plaats as of late had Mr. Ramaswamy’s family over for Sunday dinner at his home, where the feast opened with a request and the perusing of an entry from the Good book. He said that Mr. Ramaswamy’s message aligned with the priorities of many evangelical voters and that he left impressed. He referred to Mr. Ramaswamy’s list of ten fundamental “truths,” the first of which is as follows: God really exists. The subsequent: There are men and women.”)

“I believe he’s truly interfacing with the crowds in Iowa,” said Mr. Vander Plaats, who has not embraced an up-and-comer. ” He is open to more in-depth inquiries. In the most recent national polls, Mr. Ramaswamy receives less than 5% of the vote.

Mr. Ramaswamy has taken the direct approach of addressing the issue and arguing that he shares more similarities with observant Christians than they might think.

“I’m not Christian. In June, he addressed Mr. Vander Plaats in front of a small audience at the Family Leader’s headquarters. “I was not raised in a Christian household.” However, we truly do have the very Christian qualities that this country was established on.”

In a meeting in late June, in the wake of leaving a gathering with a couple dozen ministers in New Hampshire, Mr. Ramaswamy said his confidence instructed him that Jesus was “a child of God, totally.” ( That “a” will be a sharp qualification from the focal Christian conviction that Jesus is the child of God. Many Hindus believe in a plethora of deities, and some even consider Jesus to be a single teacher or god.) Hinduism is a fluid and expansive religion.

Mr. Ramaswamy pointed out that even though he is not a Christian, he openly discusses why belief in God is important, why increasing secularism in the United States is bad for the country, and values like marriage fidelity, duty, religious liberty, and self-sacrifice.

Regarding the theological differences between Hinduism and Christianity, he stated, “I don’t have a quick pitch to say, ‘No, no, that doesn’t matter.'” It’s that I see precisely why that would make a difference to you.”

Mr. Ramaswamy cites Thomas Aquinas and makes references to Bible stories at campaign stops, including the crucifixion of Jesus. He frequently discusses his time spent attending a Cincinnati “Christian school” (Catholic St. Xavier High School). Also, he differentiates “religions like our own,” which have gone the distance, with the contending perspectives of “wokeism, climatism, transgenderism, orientation belief system, Covidism,” as he put it to a group of people in New Hampshire.

The campaign of Mr. Ramaswamy has distributed videos of him responding to a New Hampshire man who asked about his “spiritual beliefs” at a town hall and of a pastor in Iowa comparing him to King David from the Bible. A woman blessed Mr. Ramaswamy in the name of Jesus Christ by placing her hand on his chest in Iowa.

“So be it,” Mr. Ramaswamy said as she closed her request.

Mr. Ramaswamy will be able to win over evangelical primary voters in the crowded Republican field in part because of outside forces. Rather than seeking a “pastor-in-chief,” many conservative voters now say they are looking for someone who shares their political and cultural goals and will fight on their behalf.

“The culture has changed, but theology is important. America has changed,” said David Brody, the boss political expert for the Christian Telecom Organization, who has talked with Mr. Ramaswamy. Mr. Brody stated that the fight against “cultural Marxism” and reversing the course of “a country gone haywire” are currently the most important goals.

He compared evangelical priorities in the Iowa caucuses the following year to those in 2008 and 2012, when conservative Christian candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee won.

Mr. Brody stated, “I don’t buy it at all the lazy narrative that he’s Hindu so he can’t appeal to evangelicals.”

As political divides have widened, theological boundaries have become increasingly muddled. Few temples split nowadays over old discussions like the specific timing of the final days or the job of through and through freedom in salvation. About portion of American Protestants presently say they like to go to a congregation with individuals who share their political perspectives, as per surveying from Lifeway Exploration.

Mr. Ramaswamy’s accentuation on his faith in one God has a long history for Hindus in the US, particularly those addressing white Christian crowds, said Michael Altman, a teacher of strict examinations at the College of Alabama.

Master Vivekananda, who addressed Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, went to considerable lengths to portray his confidence as monotheistic, rather than the generalizations of its devotees as “pagan” polytheists. Although the religion has a number of deities, they are typically subordinate to a single supreme “reality.” Its theology, according to many scholars and Hindus, is too complicated to be classified as either entirely monotheistic or entirely polytheistic.

“The polytheism obstacle is the principal thing that must be tended to” for the majority American Christian crowds, Mr. Altman said. He believes that Mr. Ramaswamy’s argument against “wokeism” is a way to dispel myths that Hinduism is synonymous with yoga, hippies, and vegetarianism.

According to evangelical observers, former President Donald J. Trump paved the way for Republican candidates who weren’t necessarily the kind of people voters would expect to sit next to on Sunday mornings at church. Numerous fervent citizens embraced the rough, threefold wedded gambling club financier not on the grounds that he was one of them but since they accepted he would battle in the public square for their benefit.

Most Indian Americans, including Hindus, are leftists. However, a segment of the population that places a high value on family, marriage, and education presents a chance for conservatives. Mr. Trump celebrated Diwali at the White House while serving as president, and the Republican National Committee introduced a brand-new Republican Hindu and Indian American Coalition in April. When he appeared with President Trump in Houston in 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew a crowd of 50,000 people, making him a well-known figure to a growing group of right-wing Indian Americans. Mr. Ramaswamy talked last year at a celebration coordinated by the conservative U.S. bunch HinduPACT, which is lined up with Mr. Modi’s style of patriotism.

Nikki Haley, one more Indian American competitor in the 2024 essential, has also underlined her experience as the girl of foreigners. However, Ms. Haley converted to Christianity and now attends a large Methodist church in South Carolina, despite the fact that she was raised Sikh. Bobby Jindal, a Republican from Louisiana who ran for president in 2016, was born and raised Hindu, but he has said that he is an “evangelical Catholic.”

Mr. Ramaswamy goes to a similar sanctuary in Dayton, Ohio, that he did as a youngster that his folks actually do.

In 2015, he had his wedding in New York City officiated by one of the priests from the temple. His wife, Dr. Apoorva Ramaswamy, stated that he, his wife, and their two young sons attend the temple on holidays and for special occasions, including the younger son’s first birthday in early July.

Dr. Ramaswamy, who has spoken out about the family’s faith on the campaign trail, stated that serious and nominal adherents to the same faith share more similarities than committed believers from different traditions.

Dr. Ramaswamy stated, “The fact that we are believers, that we have that sense of humility, that we raise our children with true respect, fear, and love of God — that is so much more unifying than the name of the God to whom people pray.”

The inquiry for her significant other’s mission is whether enough Christian citizens will concur.

Ken Bosse, the pastor of New Life Church in Raymond, New Hampshire, said that he is “an extreme follower of Jesus Christ” and that, all things considered, he would rather have a Christian in the White House. But because “we have had some professing Christians in that position who didn’t follow biblical principles,” he would be open to the right candidate who is not a Christian.

Mr. Bosse welcomed Mr. Ramaswamy to convey a concise discourse at his congregation on a Sunday morning in April. He enjoyed the competitor’s accentuation on recovering a positive American personality, he expressed, and on his story as an independent tycoon who is the offspring of workers. Right now, in any case, Mr. Bosse is inclining in the direction of supporting Mr. Trump. (Courtesy: The New York Times)

In Effort to Appeal to Conservative Voters, Vivek Ramaswamy Releases Conservative Pool of Supreme Court Picks

Vivek Ramaswamy, a business visionary running for the Republican presidential nomination, has released a rundown of expected decisions for the U.S. Supreme Court, with an end goal to feature his moderate certifications to early-state citizens who might have one or two serious misgivings of an up-and-comer without a political foundation.

The move reverberations one made by Donald J. Trump in the 2016 official mission, when he was all the while confronting inquiries from Republican electors about his past as a Democrat from New York who had once upheld fetus removal privileges and had showed up additional moderate on specific issues.

The roster includes two senators — Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah — former Solicitor General Paul Clement and a half-dozen of the nation’s most conservative federal appellate court judges. Some of them have worked to limit abortion and transgender rights.

Ramaswamy also named seven judges, from various federal district courts, the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, as a pool from which he would select U.S. circuit court nominees if he is elected.

“We were looking for diversity of vantage points on the Constitution, but without a diversity of commitment to the originalist understanding of the Constitution,” Ramaswamy said in an interview with NBC News.

Ramaswamy’s rundown, detailed prior by Axios, incorporates legal advisers who have controlled on different parts of the Republican culture wars, including strict issues, free discourse, antibody commands and transsexual privileges. In a proclamation, Mr. Ramaswamy looked to differentiate his way to deal with that of President Biden, who promised during his mission to designate the main Person of color to the most noteworthy court, which he did when he named Ketanji Brown Jackson. Mr. Ramaswamy excused that move as “purely skin-deep diversity.”

Ramaswamy stated, “The unwavering dedication to the principles of originalism and commitment to a constitutionalist judicial philosophy is what each of the individuals I would appoint share.” Our courts are the last line of guard against a managerial express that guidelines by fiat, enacts from the seat, smothering opportunity and truth.”

Ramaswamy said he, his staff and what helpers portray as “outsider associations” went over every one of the compositions and choices of the nine appointed authorities on his rundown, zeroing in on originalism — the legal way of thinking that depends on the expressions of the Constitution when it was composed rather than an understanding in light of current perspectives — and a “guarantee to a constitutionalist legal way of thinking.”

In early-state and national polls, Ramaswamy is polling well behind Mr. Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Be that as it may, Mr. Ramaswamy has committed broad opportunity to Iowa, where his rundown of judges for a potential open Supreme Court seat could matter.

His list includes Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas. Mr. Lee was on Mr. Trump’s initial list in 2016. Mr. Cruz has been mentioned on lists of prospective conservative jurists, but his decision to object to certifying the 2020 election’s Electoral College outcome would raise hackles among Democrats, who may cite other objections as well.

Judge James Ho, who serves on the Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit, which incorporates Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, is additionally on the rundown. An individual from the moderate Federalist Society and a previous representative for Equity Clarence Thomas, Judge Ho has been a vocal rival of the right to a fetus removal.

Another legal adviser, Judge Lawrence Van Dyke of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was designated for that situation by Mr. Trump in 2019. At that point, the American Bar Association said in a letter that it had worries that he wouldn’t be reasonable for L.G.B.T.Q. individuals.

Others on the rundown incorporate Appointed authority Lisa Branch, an individual from the Federalist Society who sits on the Court of Allures for the eleventh Circuit; Paul D. Forebearing, a previous specialist general; Judge Thomas M. Hardiman of the Court of Allures for the Third Circuit, who was on Mr. Trump’s underlying short rundown to supplant Equity Antonin Scalia; Judge Justin R. Walker of the Court of Allures for the Locale of Columbia Circuit; and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John K. Bush.

Trump Notified, He is Target in DOJ’s Jan. 6 Investigation

Former President Trump said Tuesday last week that he has been alerted he is a target of the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation focusing on his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election. Trump said he received the “target letter” Sunday evening.

“Deranged Jack Smith, the prosecutor with Joe Biden’s DOJ, sent a letter (again it was Sunday night!) stating that I am a TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an arrest and indictment.”

It had been clear that Trump’s actions would be a central focus of the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation, as Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to review the matter last year to determine “whether any person or entity unlawfully interfered with the transfer of power.”

But, as Trump states, receiving a target letter is often a sign someone could soon face charges in a matter where prosecutors have gathered substantial evidence.

Trump pursued a multi-pronged plan to remain in office, turning to the DOJ, state officials and even his own supporters, who ransacked the Capitol after then-Vice President Mike Pence refused Trump’s request to overturn the election results.

It’s unclear what specific charges Trump could face if prosecutors decide to move ahead.

model prosecution memo analyzing publicly available details about the DOJ investigation suggested the former president could face charges on conspiracy to defraud the United States after creating fake electoral certificates that were submitted to Congress.

Creating those fake electoral certificates could also invoke statutes that prohibit obstruction of an official proceeding, a charge also leveled at numerous rioters who entered the building, including members of the Oath Keepers and military and chauvinist group the Proud Boys.

Prosecutors in recent weeks have called a number of Trump allies before the grand jury, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former aide Hope Hicks. Prosecutors reportedly asked questions about whether Trump knew he had lost the election, as demonstrating intent is key for some charges.

An indictment would mark the third time this year Trump has been charged with a crime, and the second time in a matter of months that he would face federal charges. He was charged in Manhattan in April over an alleged hush money scheme to keep quiet an affair, and in June he pleaded not guilty to federal charges over his handling of classified documents upon leaving office. The former president is still under investigation in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state. The district attorney leading the investigation has signaled charges could be filed in August.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the myriad investigations into his conduct are part of an attempt to undermine his 2024 White House bid, pointing to his sizable lead in Republican primary polls, as well as some surveys that have shown him narrowly leading President Biden in a hypothetical rematch.


The Biden White House has been adamant that they have had no contact with the DOJ about cases involving Trump.

In the case over his handling of classified materials, a May 19 letter from the DOJ notified Trump he was a target of the investigation, according to court filings. Trump posted on social media June 8 that he had been indicted.

In this case, however, it appears Trump has been given until Thursday to appear before the grand jury in Washington.

Trump’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whether he will appear before the grand jury — a chance to offer his own evidence in the case — and Smith’s office declined to comment on the matter.

In the halls of Congress, Republicans defended Trump, repeating his claims that he is being unfairly targeted.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who in the days after the Jan. 6 attack said that Trump “bears responsibility” for the riot, sounded a different tune Tuesday morning.

“Recently, President Trump went up in the polls and was actually surpassing President Biden for reelection. So, what do they do now? Weaponize government to go after their No. 1 opponent,” he told reporters. “This is not equal justice. They treat people differently and they go after their adversaries.”

On the day of the insurrection, McCarthy called Trump, pleading with him to make a public statement to call off his supporters, at one point reportedly telling the then-president that “they are trying to fing kill me.” “Yeah, it’s absolute bulls,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said. “This is the only way that the Democrats have to beat President Trump.”

But Democrats argued Trump’s plan to stay in power was an effort to subvert democracy, one that should carry serious consequences.

“A mob of insurrectionists violently attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6th in order to halt the peaceful transfer of power,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.

“The American people deserve to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, called a potential case among the most serious Trump would face.

“If he’ll be facing charges with respect to the Jan. 6 insurrection, those are perhaps the most serious charges,” he said. “If he’s convicted of insurrection, he’s ineligible to ever hold any office of profit or trust under the United States.”

Legal Cases Pending Against Trump

Former President Trump predicted Wednesday that he will soon face arrest and indictment for his role in the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump is basing that assessment on the fact that his attorneys have been informed he is a target of the federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

If Trump is indeed indicted, it would be the third case in which he has been charged this year. Possible charges loom in a fourth case in Georgia.

Here is a roundup of the legal challenges Trump faces.

New York and the hush money payments

Trump’s first criminal indictment is in many ways the least compelling.

In early April, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg laid out 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

The charges relate to three stories about Trump’s personal life. The most famous of these centers on porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. A $130,000 deal to buy Daniels’s silence was sealed by Michael Cohen, Trump’s now-estranged attorney, in the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Bragg indictment also encompasses payments made by Trump allies to another woman — former Playboy model Karen McDougal — who alleges she had a sexual relationship with him, and an additional, smaller deal allegedly aimed at silencing a former Trump Tower doorman.

The charges, in simple terms, are that the Trump Organization concealed these hush-money payments in its official business records.

Theoretically, Trump could face a four-year jail sentence on every count, which would make for a maximum sentence of 136 years. However, most legal experts consider it inconceivable the sentence would be anywhere close to that punitive, even if he is found guilty.

Trump has pleaded not guilty. His allies contend that a criminal case would not even have been brought against a private citizen who engaged in the same conduct.

Mar-a-Lago and the classified documents

Trump’s second indictment — and the first to come from special counsel Jack Smith, who is also investigating Jan. 6 — is significantly stronger.

Trump has been charged with 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information, one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of making false statements and four additional offenses pertaining to different forms of concealment.

A Trump aide, Walt Nauta, is the co-defendant on five of the charges and has been individually charged for making false statements.

The indictment lays out its case in some detail, with several accompanying photos.

It includes a transcript of a conversation in which Trump appears to acknowledge that at least one document in his possession is “secret information” and “highly confidential.”

There are also allegations that, if true, look like textbook examples of obstruction. The indictment includes an episode where, under subpoena to produce documents, Trump muses as to whether his legal team could simply not “play ball,” or deny he possesses the relevant documents.

There are also allegations that boxes of documents were moved at Trump’s direction, seemingly to hide them from Trump’s own attorney.

The obstruction charge alone carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all the charges at a June 13 arraignment in Miami. He has furiously attacked Smith in speeches and on social media, and his legal team has sought to delay a trial until after the 2024 election.

The investigation into Jan. 6

In his Truth Social post Wednesday morning, Trump said that the official notification that he was a target “almost always means an arrest and indictment.”

The former president is correct on that point.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander are among those reported to have testified to the grand jury.

An indictment is expected any day now, and much speculation concerns what the actual charges will be.

Multiple news outlets reported Wednesday that the warning letter mentions federal statutes relating to deprivation of rights, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and tampering with a witness.

The referrals made to the Department of Justice (DOJ) by the House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 late last year also provide some possible clues.

Referrals have no real legal force, but the committee prodded the DOJ to look at possible charges of inciting or aiding an insurrection; obstruction of an official proceeding; conspiracy to defraud the United States; and conspiracy to make a false statement.

If charges are indeed pressed, Trump is virtually certain to plead not guilty.

In a second Truth Social post Wednesday, he contended he had “the right to protest an Election that I am fully convinced was Rigged and Stolen.”

The ongoing Georgia probe

Fulton County (Ga.) District Attorney Fani Willis first asked for a grand jury to be empaneled in January 2022. Her request was fulfilled four months later.

Willis’s original request contended that there was a “reasonable probability” that the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia were “subject to possible criminal disruptions.”

Even among Trump loyalists, there has long been trepidation about the Georgia probe.

The main reason is that Trump was recorded during a phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) on Jan. 2, 2021.

In that call, Trump — still the president — pressed Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overcome President Biden’s narrow margin of victory in the state. Biden had carried the Peach State by fewer than 12,000 votes.

Trump also warned ominously that Raffensperger could face criminal consequences if he did not comply. Raffensperger later wrote that he construed Trump’s words as “a threat.”

It’s possible, of course, that Willis in the end indicts nobody — or that she indicts Trump allies but not the former president himself.

She has suggested a charging decision will be made by Aug. 18

Ramaswamy Clinches Donor Threshold For First GOP Debate

Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy has achieved the necessary donor threshold to qualify for the first GOP debate, his campaign confirmed on Friday. Tricia McLaughlin, a senior adviser on Ramaswamy’s campaign, verified that he had surpassed the required minimum of 40,000 donors, reaching an impressive 65,000 unique donors.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) had outlined specific criteria in June for candidates to participate in the debate. Apart from the donor threshold, candidates must also meet polling requirements. They should have at least 1 percent support in three national polls or 1 percent support in two national polls and one state poll from early primary or caucus states, such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Ramaswamy’s achievement comes at a time when his campaign is gaining some momentum. Recent polling averages from FiveThirtyEight show him in third place among GOP primary contenders with 6.8 percent support, a remarkable increase of over four points in the last month, placing him comfortably above the RNC’s threshold.

Interestingly, Ramaswamy took the opportunity to criticize the current GOP frontrunner, former President Donald Trump, during a town hall event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This approach is quite different from his previous tactics, as he had largely avoided directly targeting Trump. Ramaswamy argued that Trump’s polarizing nature might hinder the party’s progress, suggesting that a significant portion of the population suffers mentally when he is in office. Despite this criticism, Ramaswamy has shown loyalty to the former president, even supporting him amidst legal challenges, including the potential indictment over the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

As the date of the first GOP debate draws near, Ramaswamy’s rise in the polls may indicate a shift in his campaign strategy. The debate is scheduled for August 23 in Milwaukee and will be moderated by Fox News.

It is evident that Ramaswamy’s ability to secure a substantial number of donors showcases his growing support within the party. His surge in popularity, surpassing the required polling and fundraising benchmarks, positions him as a serious contender for the GOP nomination.

In the upcoming debate, Ramaswamy will have the opportunity to present his ideas and policy proposals to a nationwide audience. This platform could be a game-changer for his campaign, allowing him to introduce himself to a broader audience and potentially increase his support base.

With the debate just a few weeks away, all eyes will be on Ramaswamy and the other candidates vying for the GOP nomination. The dynamics of the race may change as candidates seek to distinguish themselves and articulate their visions for the party’s future.

It’s worth noting that Ramaswamy’s decision to critique Trump directly could be a strategic move to set himself apart from other candidates who have been more cautious in their remarks about the former president. By addressing the potential challenges posed by Trump’s polarizing leadership style, Ramaswamy may be attempting to appeal to a broader segment of the Republican electorate.

The debate itself will be a critical event for Ramaswamy and his fellow candidates. It will offer them the chance to showcase their policy expertise, articulate their stances on various issues, and demonstrate their ability to lead the country effectively.

As the debate approaches, the candidates will likely intensify their campaigning efforts, seeking to secure more donors and improve their polling numbers. The primary race is highly competitive, and each candidate will be striving to make a strong impression on potential voters.

Ramaswamy’s rise in the polls and his qualification for the debate indicate that he is gaining traction and support within the Republican Party. However, the road ahead is challenging, with numerous hurdles to overcome before securing the nomination.

The first GOP debate will be a significant moment in Ramaswamy’s campaign journey. How he performs and how voters respond to his ideas and message will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of his candidacy.

As the date of the debate draws closer, the focus will be on the candidates’ preparations, their debate strategies, and their ability to connect with the American public. The nation will be eagerly watching the event, eager to see which candidate emerges as a front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination.

“Here’s a reality about my friend, Donald Trump,” Ramaswamy said. “I respect what he did, but it’s just a fact, it’s not even his fault — 30 percent of this country becomes psychiatrically ill when he’s in the White House.”

Vivek Ramaswamy’s successful qualification for the first GOP debate by meeting the donor threshold is a noteworthy accomplishment, indicating a growing momentum in his campaign. His rise in the polls and willingness to directly address concerns about Donald Trump’s leadership style suggest a change in campaign strategy. With the debate set to take place in August, Ramaswamy and his fellow candidates will have a crucial opportunity to showcase their visions and positions on the national stage. The debate’s outcome could have a significant impact on the Republican primary race, influencing the direction of Ramaswamy’s candidacy and shaping the competition for the party’s nomination.

Why Hollywood Stars Are On Strike

The contracts between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) expired, indicating that no agreement had been reached between the two organizations. The negotiating committee of SAG-AFTRA voted unanimously to suggest a strike to the organization’s national board, which then announced a strike on Thursday afternoon.

On June 5, almost 65,000 of the roughly 160,000 individuals that make up List AFTRA supported a hit approval with a 97.91% “yes” vote. Actors, dancers, DJs, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other professionals in the media are all members of the union.

SAG-AFTRA and the AMPTP—Amazon/MGM, Apple, NBCUniversal, Disney/ABC/Fox, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, Sony, and Warner Brothers—engaged in contract negotiations two days later. On June 30, the agreements between the two were expanded, lapsing at 12 PM on Wednesday.

“There has been a sea change in the entertainment industry, from the proliferation of streaming platforms to the recent explosion of generative AI, and at stake is the ability of our members to make a living,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator, said in a letter about the strike authorization referendum. “We must ensure that new developments in the entertainment industry are not used to devalue or disrespect the performers who bring productions to life.”

On Tuesday, Droop AFTRA consented to AMPTP’s somewhat late solicitation for government intervention, which would get an impartial outsider to help pursue a split the difference. However, SAG-AFTRA made it clear that the negotiations would not be extended a second time.

“We won’t be occupied from haggling in that frame of mind to get a fair and simply bargain by the termination of our understanding,” the organization said in a public statement. ” We are focused on the arranging system and will investigate and debilitate each conceivable chance to make an arrangement, but we are not certain that the businesses have any goal of bartering toward an understanding.”

Among Droop AFTRA’s requests are expanded least compensation rates, expanded streaming residuals (neither of which have stayed aware of expansion), and worked on working circumstances. Eminence installments, which are dependent upon the quantity of a show’s reruns, are at this point not solid. Streaming, which has moved to more limited seasons over longer timeframes, has made less work accessible to entertainers. Additionally, union members demand assurances from studios and production companies regarding the precise manner in which artificial intelligence will be utilized. They want to safeguard their identities and ensure that they are compensated fairly in the event that any of their labor is utilized to train AI.

On June 27, a larger number of than 300 entertainers — including Meryl Streep, Quinta Brunson, and Jennifer Lawrence — marked a letter to the Hang AFTRA Initiative and Arranging Panel expressing that “Droop AFTRA individuals might be prepared to make forfeits that initiative isn’t.”

“We trust you’ve heard the message from us: This is an uncommon expression point in our industry, and what may be viewed as a reasonable setup in some other years is basically sufficiently not,” the letter peruses. ” We believe that the power of our union, our wages, our craft, and our creative freedom have all been diminished over the past decade. We really want to invert those directions.”

“I am shocked by the way the people that we have been in business with are treating us,” Fran Drescher said in a passionate speech on Thursday afternoon when she announced the strike against AMPTP.

At the union’s press conference on Thursday afternoon to announce the strike, Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, discussed the impact that AI and streaming have had on the business model of the industry.

“This is a snapshot of history and is a decision time. On the off potential for success that we don’t have tall the present moment, we will be in a difficult situation,” she said. ” We will be in risk of being supplanted by machines and huge business who care more about Money Road than you and your loved ones.”

The association won’t acknowledge “gradual changes on an agreement that no longer distinctions what’s going on right now with this plan of action that was foisted upon us,” Drescher said, adding: ” On the Titanic, what are we doing, moving furniture around? It’s insane. So the dance is up AMPTP.”

Who belongs to SAG-AFTRA?

Entertainers and media experts become qualified for participation in List AFTRA by finishing an entire day of association work in a head or talking job, finishing three days of association fill in as a foundation entertainer, or being utilized under a subsidiary entertainers’ association.

Individuals from various associated associations — AEA, ACTRA, AGMA or AGVA — are qualified for List AFTRA enrollment following one year (and one chief agreement) under their own association’s purview.

Equity, the United Kingdom’s acting union, and SAG-AFTRA jointly issued a statement on Thursday stating that they “will support SAG-AFTRA and its members by all lawful means” for overseas films.

“Value U.K. remains in unflinching fortitude with List AFTRA and its individuals in their work to accomplish a fair and impartial agreement, and to ultimately benefit entertainers working all over the planet,” the assertion read.

However, U.K. actors working under Equity contracts cannot legally strike in support of the U.S. union because of “existing anti-trade union laws.” According to the statement, “SAG-AFTRA members working under an Equity U.K. collective bargaining agreement should continue to report to work.”

When did Hang AFTRA last take to the streets?

Strikes and boycotts have been common in SAG-AFTRA’s long history. In 2021, the association banned Donald Trump from truly rejoining in light of the fact that he hindered the quiet exchange of capacity to Joe Biden — and due to his assaults on columnists. ( Trump had left the gathering before that month.)

After the global advertising agency stated that it would no longer honor its long-standing contract with the union, SAG-AFTRA announced a strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 2018. After ten months, the promoting office consented to sign Droop AFTRA’s new plugs contract.

When SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012, they went on strike together for the first time in 2016 against eleven American video game publishers. This was the longest strike in SAG history.

In 2000, preceding they consolidated, Hang and AFTRA gave a dubious half year work stoppage over the convention for paying entertainers who show up in television ads. Twenty years earlier, Hang and AFTRA mutually required a fruitful blacklist against 1980s’ Emmy Grants, striking for an expansion in least compensations.

How the continuous journalists’ strike factors in

In 1960, Hang took to the streets against AMPTP over pay, joining the Essayists Society of America (WGA), which had proactively been protesting for over a month with comparable requests, to a great extent over pay rates. That was Hollywood’s first industry-wide strike.

Today, the WGA has been on strike since the beginning of May, and if SAG-AFTRA’s demands are not met this time, it will join the WGA on strike, bringing Hollywood to a near standstill. This is a historical echo. SAG-AFTRA has asked members to volunteer to be strike captains, and WGA captains, who are already on strike at a number of studios, have offered to train from the picket lines.

How this affects motion pictures and Network programs

If Hang AFTRA individuals really do protest, any film or television creation that has not as of now been ended by the WGA strike will basically close down. Abroad creations, specifically, where studios have attempted to keep shooting a few shows without WGA essayist makers, are probably going to feel the effect.

Americans Divided on Supreme Court’s Decisions

Depending on their political affiliation, Americans had a wide range of opinions regarding the most recent decisions made by the Supreme Court, including those that restricted the use of race-based affirmative action in higher education and prevented student loan forgiveness.

New surveying directed by ABC News/Ipsos shows that Americans’ reactions to the High Court have been uneven, with the level of conservatives and free thinkers who view the court’s choices as driven by governmental issues remaining to a great extent unaltered. Meanwhile, Democrats are becoming more and more vocal about their belief that the justices base their decisions on their political opinions rather than the law. While just 33% of conservatives and a big part of free movers say the court leads basically based on hardliner political perspectives, 3/4 of leftists currently have that perspective – – a spike of 20 rate focuses since eighteen months prior when the inquiry was posed to in a January 2022 ABC News/Ipsos survey.

ABC News sought out poll participants to learn more about their perspectives. According to follow-up interviews with poll respondents, there is a high degree of polarization, and opinions within partisan groups are somewhat varied. Individuals from the two players have differing insights about the level of the court’s politicization, whether it involves concern, and the thing to do about it. All respondents requested to be recognized simply by their most memorable names aside from where generally showed.


A solid greater part of conservatives – – around 66%, as indicated by ABC News/Ipsos surveying – – accept that High Court judges pursue their choices based on regulation, not legislative issues.

Asha Urban, who spoke with ABC News earlier this month at a Trump rally in South Carolina, says that the justices are focused on the law. She advised, “Rule on the law, and push other things back to the states that need to be ruled in the states.”

Urban believes that former President Donald Trump’s tenure was marked by the appointment of three Supreme Court justices. She also believes that the Trump-appointed justices are reversing a legacy of politicized rulings prior to his presidency.

She stated, “He campaigned on bringing in conservative judges who would be constitutionalists rather than politicians.” I believe that is what the vast majority of us need.”

Michael, a South Carolina Republican, has a different perspective. He was surprised to learn that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to believe that Supreme Court justices rule based on their personal political views. He is one of about a third of Republicans who believe this.

He jokingly stated, “It distresses me that I might lean toward the Democrats.” He concurs with the court’s new choices on governmental policy regarding minorities in society and understudy loans. In any case, the 74-year-old is worried by the way that the court’s navigation could turn out to be in an exposed fashion political later on – – a pattern he sees as connected with the country’s polarization overall.

He stated, “I’m worried that they’re not following the law.” They weren’t chosen. We have no recourse when a president serves them up—and it’s for life. They can’t be voted out.

Concerns about the direction of the court were expressed by Dwight Edward Allen, a 47-year-old Kentucky man who describes himself as “more of a conservative than a Republican.” While he accepts that the judges pursue sound legitimate choices more often than not, including their new choice with respect to educational loans, he said that the court is turning out to be more political, and explicitly that it is “going in reverse.”

“That is great assuming you’re white or special, yet in the event that you’re simply attempting to scrape by, then, at that point, it’s not,” he said.

Democrats According to ABC News/Ipsos polling, many Democrats view the Supreme Court as an increasingly politicized institution after a year of controversial rulings.

One such Democrat who is concerned about partisanship on the Supreme Court is Natalie. She stated that her upbringing as a Filipina immigrant gave her a profound appreciation for nonpartisan judicial systems and that she is concerned about what she sees as the weakening of democracy in the United States as a whole.

“I know what it’s like to live under a dictatorship because I spent my childhood in the Philippines under martial law. She stated, “I know what it’s like when the politicians in power influence the Supreme Court.”

Natalie said that the Supreme Court’s recent decisions on affirmative action, President Joe Biden’s policy on student loan debt, and abortion show that the court doesn’t always follow the law.

“Experiencing childhood in a nation where we generally admired the majority rule standards of the US, and perceiving how it’s getting disintegrated the present moment, is troubling to me,” she added.

Another Democrat who is concerned about partisanship on the court, Vicki, claims that politics have become more influential on the court in the past year. She shared, “I think that they are more partisan now than they have been in the past.”

Vicki emphasized that justices should adhere to the letter of the law and should not be influenced by political parties or politicians—something that, according to her, has not been the case in recent months.

She stated, “I idealistically believe that they should be ruling based on what is written in the Constitution, rather than what the party supporting the president that appointed them might support.”

According to ABC News/Ipsos polling, independents are roughly evenly divided regarding whether the court rules primarily on the basis of the law.

Greg Freeman, an autonomous, said that albeit the ongoing High Court judges’ decisions convey hardliner inclinations, they are sensible translations of the law.

He stated, “Even though it appears that what they’re doing right now is partisan…” He added, “I think we’re just seeing that the decisions of the court are very reflective of the presidents who nominated them.”

That Freeman still has faith in the Court despite partisanship. The 49-year-old South Carolinian, who asserts that he has major concerns with both political parties, views it as a natural part of a democracy’s power struggles.

“At the point when certain issues were deciphered contrastingly in past High Court decisions, moderates jumped on a ‘liberal’ court. In an email to ABC News, Freeman wrote, “Liberals are railing against a mostly conservative court now that the reverse is arguably true.” Partisanship in the Court is the same old thing, and it has a major impact in how presidents are picked by citizens. Continuously has, consistently will.”

Dan, another California independent, concurred with Freeman’s diagnosis but expressed concern about the trend. He declined to discuss specific cases but stated that he senses that the court has become more political over the past decade. He self-identifies as a swing voter.

“The current court appears to be biased, in my opinion,” he stated. “I’m concerned that the current Supreme Court would change long-term positions.” A decade prior, I could never have said that.”

Dan said that he wouldn’t uphold extending the quantity of judges on the court, an answer that has been proposed by a few Vote based legislators, assuming that the judges were still politically named. However, he expressed broad support for the establishment of term limits for Supreme Court justices and other measures to make the court less partisan.

The Election That Couldn’t Happen in High School

The high school student government vote in the classic 1999 film “Election” has everything: bare desire, crusade banner destroying, voting form control, unfaithfulness and then some Tracy Flick is played by Reese Witherspoon, who can differentiate between “morals” and “ethics” and always raises her hand first in class. Jim McAllister, who has been named teacher of the year three times, is played by Matthew Broderick. He doesn’t like Tracy and gets a popular jock to run against her for student body president.

In any case, what the skilled author Tom Perotta probably couldn’t envision was a political race wherein two disliked competitors get down to business for president. That doesn’t occur in secondary school, even in an ironical film.

While a great deal can occur before the primaries start one year from now, the two driving competitors right now, President Joe Biden and previous President Donald Trump, are both disagreeable with the American public.

Only 41% of Americans, according to a June CNN poll, approve of Biden’s performance. Trump finished his administration in 2021, days after the January 6 US State house revolt, with a typical endorsement rating that was even lower – 39%. 59% of all Americans believe that Trump should end his campaign following his indictment this year on federal charges of mishandling classified documents.

“This puts a lot of Americans in a position they don’t want to be in,” Harry Enten wrote last month. At this point, a historically high percentage of them dislike either man. “A plurality (36%) viewed neither candidate favorably, while 33% viewed Trump favorably and 32% viewed Biden favorably,” according to a CNN poll.

“Even with his mediocre approval ratings,” Biden has advantages over some of his predecessors, according to historian Julian Zelizer. He has “a formidable legislative record,” as he puts it. He can boast of a robust economy with numerous jobs and price stability now that inflation has subsided. But he argued that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s primary challenge must concern the president. Biden also benefits from the specter of a second Trump presidency, which is enough to rally Democrats and scare voters who might otherwise be tempted by a challenger.

Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush are just a few examples from history who lost out in crucial primaries. Large numbers of Biden’s 2020 allies are disappointed with the president, and any assaults Kennedy will release could additionally harm Biden and give an establishment to conservatives to pursue him in the mission,” composed Zelizer. If Biden’s name is not on the ballot, RFK Jr. could even win the New Hampshire primary. The president is in favor of depriving that state of its right to hold the first-in-the-nation primary in favor of South Carolina, which was the state that gave Biden’s 2020 campaign a lot of energy.

Trump Inconveniences

Trump has a sizable lead over his kindred GOP competitors yet faces a remarkable arrangement of legal difficulties originating from his two prosecutions, other forthcoming examinations and common claims. Trump’s opponents, both within and outside the party, have more cause for concern as his MAGA base proclaims its love for the former president.

Consider Sen. Lindsey Graham’s participation in a Trump rally over the weekend. Despite the fact that he was in his home province of South Carolina just miles from his origin, the congressperson was completely booed by Trump’s allies, as Dignitary Obeidallah called attention to.

“While the roasting served as yet another reminder of how some Trump supporters demand absolute loyalty to the former president, I must admit that it was fun to watch Graham bomb with the audience. When Trump said that Graham and everyone else makes a “mistake,” it seemed like the mistake was not being completely loyal to Trump.

Trump has been promoting the idea of “bringing back” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was pardoned by the former president. “The United States would be in for quite a scary ride if Flynn were to be brought back into a senior national security role in a possible second Trump administration, based on Flynn’s tight embrace of the Christian nationalist right and wild conspiracy theories,” wrote Peter Bergen and Erik German.

Featuring in a “Enliven America Visit,” “Flynn is named, without incongruity, ‘America’s general,’ and, at the occasion we went to in May, America’s general was the certain superstar. Flynn told the crowd, many of whom had paid hundreds of dollars for tickets to the event and the cost of staying at the Trump resort, that there was a conspiracy to take over the world while standing on stage at a podium flanked by jumbotron TVs draped with red Trump flags.

“As per Flynn, this scheme is driven by … the World Financial Discussion,” Bergen and German composed. In recent years, bizarre conspiracy theories have become a hotbed of discussion at the World Economic Forum, which is best known for its annual Davos conference, which brings together CEOs and world leaders.

The Conservative Public Board of trustees requires up-and-comers who partake in its discussions to make a vow that they will uphold the party’s possible candidate, who could be Trump. It’s a serious mix-up, composed Geoff Duncan, a GOPer who previously filled in as lieutenant legislative head of Georgia. The requirement that “every GOP presidential candidate must state, without equivocation, that the 2020 election was not stolen” would be a better policy. No really moving around the issue with a wink and a gesture about ‘worries’ about Coronavirus time strategies making the way for expected extortion… ”

“It’s well beyond time for the Conservative Alliance to show our freedom from previous President Trump. The GOP’s losing streak through the 2018 midterms is a result of his politics, personality, and policies. We must first change our party’s leadership before we can change the direction of our country.

Reverberations From SCOTUS Rulings

The climactic finish to the High Court term kept on resonating the week before. It was just a year prior that the court’s moderate larger part upset Roe v. Swim, a disagreeable move that permitted liberals to score a few major political wins and keep away from a lamentable midterm political race.

The current year’s choices, dismissing governmental policy regarding minorities in society in school confirmations and striking down Biden’s understudy loan pardoning plan, are more averse to assemble electors, contended David Imprint.

David Mark wrote, “Democrats plan to put the Supreme Court on trial in the lead up to the elections in 2024.” However, Democrats face the challenge of the court’s views on the issues pertaining to higher education being more in line with voters’ values than their own. However their political fight intend to defame the High Court has as of recently been to a great extent effective, liberals are ready to make a significant error on the off chance that they expect the current year’s choices will push more individuals against the court and in this way further into Popularity based arms… ”

“Consider that in the country’s transcendent blue stronghold of California, Biden cavorted to triumph against Trump. However, on the same ballot, voters rejected a measure repealing California’s affirmative action ban from 1996 by 57%-43%.

Problem with free speech Kara Alaimo wrote that a Supreme Court decision “that makes it harder to hold people responsible for harassment” got lost in the rush of the end of the term. Online harassment is protected by the First Amendment unless the perpetrator disregards a “substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence,” according to the court, which overturned a man’s conviction for stalking and inflicting “emotional distress” on singer Coles Whalen.

“While the court may claim to be defending free speech by ruling that the threats were protected by the First Amendment,” the decision is likely to censor and silence harassment victims.

In court and beyond, “Finding the right balance between free speech and protecting people from abuse is difficult.”

Judge Rules Biden Administration Violated First Amendment with Censorship During Pandemic

A federal judge in Louisiana has ruled that the Biden administration probably broke the First Amendment by censoring negative views on social media during the coronavirus pandemic, calling the measures “Orwellian.”

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and all employees of the Justice Department and FBI are all prohibited from having any contact with social media firms for the purpose of discouraging or removing speech protected by the First Amendment, according to a broad preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Terry Doughty.

The decision and request from Bold, a deputy of previous President Donald Trump, are the most recent improvements in a long-running claim led by conservative drove states charging that the organization compelled online entertainment organizations to eliminate posts containing implied deception about the Covid, political race security and different issues.

“During the Coronavirus pandemic, a period maybe best described by broad uncertainty and vulnerability, the US Government appears to play expected a part like an Orwellian ‘Service of Truth,'” Courageous wrote as he would see it, which was delivered as most bureaucratic courts were shut for the Freedom Day occasion.

The ruling by Doughty appears to take effect right away, but the Biden administration can appeal it to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans because it is not a final decision on the suit. On Tuesday, the Justice Department declined to provide any commentary. A representative for the White House didn’t quickly answer a solicitation for input.

The judge says in his decision that a wide range of topics, including opposition to Covid vaccines, masking, lockdowns, and the lab-leak theory, were “all suppressed” on social media at the direction of administration officials; opposition to the election’s legitimacy in 2020; opposition to the policies of the president and other officials; and statements asserting that the account of a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, Biden’s son, was accurate.

Every theme “smothered” was a moderate view, which “is very telling,” Bold pronounced. “This designated concealment of moderate thoughts is an ideal illustration of perspective segregation of political discourse,” he proceeded. ” The evidence presented thus far portrays a scenario that is almost dystopian; American citizens have the right to freely debate the significant issues affecting the nation.

However, the judge also mentioned previous attempts to delete or suppress content from anti-vaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who announced in April that he will challenge Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2024.

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry praised the decision, describing it as a “historic injunction” against the Biden administration that prevents it “from censoring the core political speech of ordinary Americans on social media.”

“The proof for our situation is stunning and hostile,” Landry added. In the case, the Justice Department has argued that federal officials’ speech was protected by the First Amendment because they were simply encouraging social media companies to police their platforms. Although top officials have occasionally harshly criticized the businesses, federal officials have consistently denied using threats or coercion to force the companies to de-platform particular speech or speakers.

“They’re killing individuals,” Biden said in July 2021, subsequent to being gotten some information about the presence of hostile to immunization content on Facebook and different locales. ” The main pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated, and they’re killing individuals.”

Audacious has been regulating the suit the lawyers general of Missouri and Louisiana documented last year guaranteeing that the organization’s tension on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was extraordinary to such an extent that it added up to oversight. In a censure to Brave in January, the fifth Circuit impeded endeavors to compel previous White House press secretary Jen Psaki to affirm for the situation.

Vivek Ramaswamy Launches Scholarship For Young Americans

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy committed $250,000 to fund a new scholarship program that aims to foster national pride among young Americans, as he believes patriotism is declining in the country. The scholarship program aims to revive national pride among the younger generation.

Highlighting the need for such a scholarship, Ramaswamy cited studies that shed light on the current state of American pride in the younger generation. According to the findings, only 16 per cent of Gen Z say they are proud to be American, while a staggering 60 per cent of teens on TikTok would rather give up their right to vo

“In honor of our son’s 1st birthday today, Apoorva & I are committing $250,000 to fund a new scholarship to foster national pride among young Americans,” he announced on Twitter. “Ten winners will be selected by a panel to receive a $25,000 scholarship for post-secondary education, entrepreneurial endeavors, or their commitment to serve in the military or law enforcement role.”

The tech mogul lamented the relatively poor state of patriotism in American youths, noting “[o]nly 16% of Gen Z says they’re proud to be American. 60% of teens on TikTok would rather give up their right to vote than their social media account. Our military suffered a 25% recruitment deficit last year. This bodes poorly for our nation.”

“As an entrepreneur, I believe in solving problems through private behavior whenever possible,” he continued. “That’s why we are funding a new scholarship to revive patriotism: this year, ten high school students will be eligible to receive a $25,000 scholarship for concisely articulating what it means to be an American in 2023. The scholarship will be administered by @IncubateDebate, a nonprofit organization that leads U.S. students to debate important issues of public importance.”

Applicants must submit a 2-minute video answering the question “what does it mean to be an American?”

Considered something of a longshot candidate, Ramaswamy’s announcement comes as he appears to be enjoying a poll surge. A recent Echelon Insights survey shows him taking 10% of the Republican primary electorate, placing him in third, behind former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Vivek Ramaswamy Leans Into His Hindu Faith to Court Christian Voters

This spring, Bristol Smith, a manager at a McDonald’s in Maryville, Tennessee, came across the name Vivek Ramaswamy shortly after the entrepreneur Mr. Ramaswamy announced that he was running for president. Mr. Smith was drawn in. He liked Mr. Ramaswamy’s plan to send the military to the southern border to fight drug cartels and the way he “stands up against the wokeness.” He regarded Mr. Ramaswamy’s insight as a money manager worth countless dollars.

Then, at that point, Mr. Smith, 25, looked for Mr. Ramaswamy’s confidence. Mr. Smith is an evangelical Christian who recently established a modest church at his parents’ house.

He recalled, “I looked up his religion and saw he is Hindu.” I planned to decide in favor of him until that surfaced.” Mr. Smith believes that the nation needs to be “put back under God,” and he doesn’t want to risk it with a non-Christian.

By then, he said, “I got back on President Trump’s train.”

Mr. Ramaswamy, 37, is a practicing Hindu who was brought up in India by immigrants. Some conservative Christian voters, who make up a significant portion of the Republican primary electorate and are accustomed to evaluating candidates not only based on their policy proposals but also on their biographies and personal beliefs, including religious faith, face a dilemma as a result of this.

A candidate’s faith is a sign of a candidate’s values, lifestyle, loyalties, and priorities as a leader for many conservative voters. It’s the classic Sunday morning question about which candidate you’d like to have a beer with most: Who is a good fit for your church?

“It’s another obstacle individuals need to cross to go to him,” Weave Vander Plaats, a powerful fervent forerunner in Iowa, said of Mr. Ramaswamy.

Mr. Vander Plaats as of late had Mr. Ramaswamy’s family over for Sunday dinner at his home, where the feast opened with a request and the perusing of an entry from the Good book. He said that Mr. Ramaswamy’s message aligned with the priorities of many evangelical voters and that he left impressed. He referred to Mr. Ramaswamy’s list of ten fundamental “truths,” the first of which is as follows: God really exists. The subsequent: There are men and women.”)

“I believe he’s truly interfacing with the crowds in Iowa,” said Mr. Vander Plaats, who has not embraced an up-and-comer. ” He is open to more in-depth inquiries. In the most recent national polls, Mr. Ramaswamy receives less than 5% of the vote.

Mr. Ramaswamy has taken the direct approach of addressing the issue and arguing that he shares more similarities with observant Christians than they might think.

“I’m not Christian. In June, he addressed Mr. Vander Plaats in front of a small audience at the Family Leader’s headquarters. “I was not raised in a Christian household.” However, we truly do have the very Christian qualities that this country was established on.”

In a meeting in late June, in the wake of leaving a gathering with a couple dozen ministers in New Hampshire, Mr. Ramaswamy said his confidence instructed him that Jesus was “a child of God, totally.” ( That “a” will be a sharp qualification from the focal Christian conviction that Jesus is the child of God. Many Hindus believe in a plethora of deities, and some even consider Jesus to be a single teacher or god.) Hinduism is a fluid and expansive religion.

Mr. Ramaswamy pointed out that even though he is not a Christian, he openly discusses why belief in God is important, why increasing secularism in the United States is bad for the country, and values like marriage fidelity, duty, religious liberty, and self-sacrifice.

Regarding the theological differences between Hinduism and Christianity, he stated, “I don’t have a quick pitch to say, ‘No, no, that doesn’t matter.'” It’s that I see precisely why that would make a difference to you.”

Mr. Ramaswamy cites Thomas Aquinas and makes references to Bible stories at campaign stops, including the crucifixion of Jesus. He frequently discusses his time spent attending a Cincinnati “Christian school” (Catholic St. Xavier High School). Also, he differentiates “religions like our own,” which have gone the distance, with the contending perspectives of “wokeism, climatism, transgenderism, orientation belief system, Covidism,” as he put it to a group of people in New Hampshire.

The campaign of Mr. Ramaswamy has distributed videos of him responding to a New Hampshire man who asked about his “spiritual beliefs” at a town hall and of a pastor in Iowa comparing him to King David from the Bible. A woman blessed Mr. Ramaswamy in the name of Jesus Christ by placing her hand on his chest in Iowa.

“So be it,” Mr. Ramaswamy said as she closed her request.

Mr. Ramaswamy will be able to win over evangelical primary voters in the crowded Republican field in part because of outside forces. Rather than seeking a “pastor-in-chief,” many conservative voters now say they are looking for someone who shares their political and cultural goals and will fight on their behalf.

“The culture has changed, but theology is important. America has changed,” said David Brody, the boss political expert for the Christian Telecom Organization, who has talked with Mr. Ramaswamy. Mr. Brody stated that the fight against “cultural Marxism” and reversing the course of “a country gone haywire” are currently the most important goals.

He compared evangelical priorities in the Iowa caucuses the following year to those in 2008 and 2012, when conservative Christian candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee won.

Mr. Brody stated, “I don’t buy it at all the lazy narrative that he’s Hindu so he can’t appeal to evangelicals.”

As political divides have widened, theological boundaries have become increasingly muddled. Few temples split nowadays over old discussions like the specific timing of the final days or the job of through and through freedom in salvation. About portion of American Protestants presently say they like to go to a congregation with individuals who share their political perspectives, as per surveying from Lifeway Exploration.

Mr. Ramaswamy’s accentuation on his faith in one God has a long history for Hindus in the US, particularly those addressing white Christian crowds, said Michael Altman, a teacher of strict examinations at the College of Alabama.

Master Vivekananda, who addressed Hinduism at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893, went to considerable lengths to portray his confidence as monotheistic, rather than the generalizations of its devotees as “pagan” polytheists. Although the religion has a number of deities, they are typically subordinate to a single supreme “reality.” Its theology, according to many scholars and Hindus, is too complicated to be classified as either entirely monotheistic or entirely polytheistic.

“The polytheism obstacle is the principal thing that must be tended to” for the majority American Christian crowds, Mr. Altman said. He believes that Mr. Ramaswamy’s argument against “wokeism” is a way to dispel myths that Hinduism is synonymous with yoga, hippies, and vegetarianism.

According to evangelical observers, former President Donald J. Trump paved the way for Republican candidates who weren’t necessarily the kind of people voters would expect to sit next to on Sunday mornings at church. Numerous fervent citizens embraced the rough, threefold wedded gambling club financier not on the grounds that he was one of them but since they accepted he would battle in the public square for their benefit.

Most Indian Americans, including Hindus, are leftists. However, a segment of the population that places a high value on family, marriage, and education presents a chance for conservatives. Mr. Trump celebrated Diwali at the White House while serving as president, and the Republican National Committee introduced a brand-new Republican Hindu and Indian American Coalition in April. When he appeared with President Trump in Houston in 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew a crowd of 50,000 people, making him a well-known figure to a growing group of right-wing Indian Americans. Mr. Ramaswamy talked last year at a celebration coordinated by the conservative U.S. bunch HinduPACT, which is lined up with Mr. Modi’s style of patriotism.

Nikki Haley, one more Indian American competitor in the 2024 essential, has also underlined her experience as the girl of foreigners. However, Ms. Haley converted to Christianity and now attends a large Methodist church in South Carolina, despite the fact that she was raised Sikh. Bobby Jindal, a Republican from Louisiana who ran for president in 2016, was born and raised Hindu, but he has said that he is an “evangelical Catholic.”

Mr. Ramaswamy goes to a similar sanctuary in Dayton, Ohio, that he did as a youngster that his folks actually do.

In 2015, he had his wedding in New York City officiated by one of the priests from the temple. His wife, Dr. Apoorva Ramaswamy, stated that he, his wife, and their two young sons attend the temple on holidays and for special occasions, including the younger son’s first birthday in early July.

Dr. Ramaswamy, who has spoken out about the family’s faith on the campaign trail, stated that serious and nominal adherents to the same faith share more similarities than committed believers from different traditions.

Dr. Ramaswamy stated, “The fact that we are believers, that we have that sense of humility, that we raise our children with true respect, fear, and love of God — that is so much more unifying than the name of the God to whom people pray.”

The inquiry for her significant other’s mission is whether enough Christian citizens will concur.

Ken Bosse, the pastor of New Life Church in Raymond, New Hampshire, said that he is “an extreme follower of Jesus Christ” and that, all things considered, he would rather have a Christian in the White House. But because “we have had some professing Christians in that position who didn’t follow biblical principles,” he would be open to the right candidate who is not a Christian.

Mr. Bosse welcomed Mr. Ramaswamy to convey a concise discourse at his congregation on a Sunday morning in April. He enjoyed the competitor’s accentuation on recovering a positive American personality, he expressed, and on his story as an independent tycoon who is the offspring of workers. Right now, in any case, Mr. Bosse is inclining in the direction of supporting Mr. Trump. (Courtesy: The New York Times)

Half Of Americans Say The Best Age For A U.S. President Is In Their 50s

When asked about the ideal age of a president, around half of Americans (49%) say they prefer someone in their 50s, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Another 24% say it’s best for a president to be in their 60s, while 17% say they should be in their 40s.

Just 3% of Americans say they prefer a president to be in their 70s or older. An equally tiny share (3%) say it’s best for a president to be in their 30s. (The minimum age for a presidential candidate is 35.)

The survey asked Americans about the best age for presidents generally. It did not refer to President Joe Biden – at 80, the oldest president in U.S. history – or former President Donald Trump, who is 77.

Age differences in views of the ideal age for a president

Younger adults are more favorable than older Americans toward presidents being in their 30s and 40s. About half (48%) of adults under the age of 30 say it is ideal for a president to be in their 30s or 40s; only 6% of adults over the age of 50 share this view.

By contrast, older adults prefer a president who is in their 60s or older. For example, 41% of adults in their 50s or older say they prefer a president in their 60s or older. Only 11% of adults in their 30s or younger say the same.

Partisan views of the ideal age for a president

Democrats and Republicans have similar views about the best age range for a president.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are slightly more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners (25% vs. 15%) to prefer presidents in their 30s and 40s, while Republicans are slightly more likely than Democrats to prefer presidents in their 60s or older (32% vs. 24%). However, these minor differences are largely due to the age composition of the parties.

Among Democrats, views on the ideal age range for a president are similar to what they were during the 2020 presidential election cycle. The question was not asked of Republicans in the 2019 survey.

China and US Are Talking. That’s a Good Start

During her visit to China, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen expressed the hope that the United States and China could rekindle a relationship that had been in decline for a number of years and had recently veered off course due to significant points of tension, such as the conflict in Ukraine, a Chinese spy balloon that flew over U.S. territory and was shot down by the American military, and the escalating exchange of trade restrictions between the two countries.

Ms. Yellen stated at a news conference on Sunday that she believed the United States and China were on a steadier footing despite their “significant disagreements” after meeting for ten hours over two days in Beijing. “We accept that the world is large enough for both of our nations to flourish,” Ms. Yellen said.

Ms. Yellen said that the two sides would try to talk to each other more often at the highest levels. She said that better communication would stop mistrust from growing in a relationship that she called “one of the most consequential of our time.” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made a similar excursion a few weeks earlier. Also, not long from now, John Kerry, the exceptional official emissary for environmental change, will visit China to restart a worldwide temperature alteration talks.

However, a significant decrease in economic tension may not be possible. On Sunday, when Ms. Yellen returned to Washington, she did not make any announcements about any breakthroughs or agreements to close the ever-widening rifts that exist between the two countries. Additionally, Ms. Yellen made it abundantly clear that the Biden administration has serious concerns regarding a number of China’s commercial practices, including the country’s treatment of foreign businesses and policies that the United States regards as attempts at economic coercion.

On her outing, the first by a U.S. Depository secretary in four years, Ms. Yellen met with four of the most remarkable Chinese pioneers engaged with financial policymaking under President Xi Jinping, who is toward the beginning of his third term in office: China’s No. 1 leader, Premier Li Qiang two official Ms. Yellen’s partner, Bad habit Chief He Lifeng; Liu Kun, the minister of finance; what’s more, the recently introduced party head of Individuals’ Bank of China, Skillet Gongsheng.

Xinhua, China’s official news agency, published a report on Ms. Yellen’s visit a few hours before her news conference. The report praised the talks as productive while also reiterating China’s key points of contention. The report communicated China’s proceeded with issues with the Biden organization’s accentuation on saving American public safety through exchange limitations.

According to Xinhua, “China believes that generalizing national security is not conducive to normal trade and economic exchanges.” The Chinese side communicated worry about U.S. sanctions and prohibitive measures against China.”

The U.S.- China relationship is immensely noteworthy. Together, their economies, the two largest in the world, account for 40% of global output and remain important partners in many ways. They sell and purchase basic items from one another, finance each other’s organizations, and make applications and motion pictures for crowds in the two nations.

Chinese authorities raised their own interests with Ms. Yellen. The secretary of the Treasury claimed that they discussed the still-in-place tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on Chinese imports. While Ms. Yellen has reprimanded duties as ineffectual, she proposed that the organization wouldn’t arrive at any conclusion about the tolls until a continuous inside audit of them was closed, emphasizing the place of the organization since President Biden got down to business.

She additionally recognized Chinese worries about approaching U.S. limitations on interest in China and said that she attempted to make sense of that such measures would be barely focused on at specific areas and wouldn’t be planned to comprehensively affect China’s economy. Experts and officials in China are also concerned that the administration’s efforts to restrict China’s access to certain technologies may impede the growth of high-potential industries like quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Ms. Yellen stated on Sunday’s episode of CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “I explained that President Biden is examining potential controls on outbound investment in certain very narrow high technology areas.” She added that such restrictions “should not be something that will have a significant impact on the investment climate between our two countries.”

Since 2015, China has imposed additional, more stringent restrictions on foreign investment. The country has been encouraging Chinese households and businesses to invest abroad in strategic value sectors like aircraft production, heavy manufacturing, and cybersecurity rather than in overseas real estate speculation.

Wu Xinbo, the senior member of global examinations at Fudan College in Shanghai, forewarned that Ms. Yellen’s outing wouldn’t bring about a meaningful improvement in relations except if it was joined by changes in the Biden organization’s strategies toward China.

“Up to this point, we haven’t seen any sign that Biden will reexamine his financial approach toward China,” he said. Some analysts saw the desire for more dialogue as a significant development, with both nations finally discussing their disagreements after months of silence.

He Weiwen, a previous authority at China’s Service of Trade who is presently a senior individual at the Middle for China and Globalization in Beijing, invited Ms. Yellen’s remark that both China and the US could flourish. ” Because of the profound differences that exist between China and the United States, regular, open exchanges are not only beneficial but of crucial importance, he stated.

The Treasury Department, which has historically valued China as a significant investor in American bonds and as a potential market for American financial services, has a long history of working more closely with Chinese economic policymakers. The Business Division and the Workplace of the US Exchange Agent, with their more noteworthy accentuation on encouraging business and modern independence, have would in general have more peevish associations with their Chinese partners.

This was especially true during the time that Trump was in charge. Before he took over as vice premier four months ago, Liu He was in charge of international economic policy. He made numerous attempts to compromise with Steven Mnuchin, who was the Treasury Secretary under former President Donald J. Trump. In any case, Mr. Mnuchin couldn’t convince Mr. Trump, who wound up monumental levies on a large number of Chinese commodities as reprisal for what he said were unreasonable strategic policies.

Numerous U.S. organizations with binds to China, alongside Chinese authorities, had expected more amicable relations under Mr. Biden. Instead, since the spy balloon incident in February, tensions between the United States and China have only intensified over the past two years.

While Ms. Yellen’s visit was viewed as a positive step, numerous specialists in both China and the US forewarned against anticipating that a ton should change.

According to Mark Sobel, a former longtime Treasury official, “Yellen’s trip will likely turn down the temperature on the economic relationship for a bit and remind the U.S. and China that they share some commercial interests, even if they are waning, and they need to talk through thick and thin — perhaps business conditions will improve at the margins.”

Yet, given public safety worries in the two nations, a discernment in China that the U.S. looks to contain its financial progression and hawkish political language on the two sides, he said, “Yellen’s outing will scarcely adjust the basic dynamic and direction of the monetary relationship.”

Regardless of the conflicts between the U.S. what’s more, China, Ms. Yellen was welcomed energetically during her most memorable visit to Beijing as Depository secretary.

He mentioned that a rainbow had appeared overhead upon her arrival during a meeting with China’s second-highest official, Premier Li Qiang, and suggested that it was a sign of hope that ties between the two countries could be repaired.

After Ms. Yellen was spotted feasting at an eatery that serves food from the territory of Yunnan, Chinese state media expounded on her noteworthy utilization of chopsticks and revealed that appointments at the café were up after she was seen eating mushroom dishes via virtual entertainment.

Ms. Yellen also had lunch with a group of Chinese women who are economists and business owners and met with Chinese experts on climate finance. She recommended that there are numerous regions where the US and China can track down understanding.

Ms. Yellen stated at the lunch that “our people share many things in common — far more than our differences.”

Indian Christian Day Celebrated in New York

New York: Christians celebrated the Indian Christian Day with prayers and tears in light of the great calamity faced by the Christian community in Manipur. The celebration, which was supposed to be held on July 3, the day of St. Thomas, was held a day earlier at the Cathedral Hall of the Malankara Catholic Church in Elmont, New York. It was a rare gathering of Indian Christians from across denominations, regions, and languages who lived in greater New York. Church Fathers, priests, and dignitaries arrived with blessings and greetings.

Bryan Nerran, who had to spend seven and a half months in prison in India on trumped up charges, and Rev. Mark Mang, a native of Manipur whose cousin died at the hands of the militants and others, pointed to the rapid changes that are taking place as regards curtailing of religious freedom in India. Several choirs from various churches with their Singing made the ceremony more devotional.

Picture : TheUNN

Bishop of Marthoma Church, Isaac Mar Filoxenos Episcopa, who was the chief guest, mentioned the new trends by those in power to rewrite history. He went on to add that they may have political and social reasons to indulge in those efforts; however, the facts will not be erased from history. We should be proud of our history and heritage. The Bishop said, “Suffering and pain have also affected the people of Israel. They cried out while they were in captivity in Babylon. They lamented how we could sing God’s song in a foreign land. We are safe and content here in America. But we cannot accept the pains of our brothers in India. Let us pray for peace to be restored there. Let human rights be restored there. We may belong to different churches. But the important thing is that we stand together. We must stand together in the miseries facing humanity while accepting our differences. We owe it to ourselves to raise our voices. We must also be ready to die for the kingdom of God. As successors of St. Thomas the Apostle, we should be proud. The light of the gospel reached our country in the first century.”

“Saint Thomas is mentioned three times in the Bible. In the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus decides to go to Bethany to comfort the family of Lazarus. But the disciples, knowing that there were people there who could kill him, asked if it was necessary. Once Jesus decided to go, Thomas said we could go and die with him. In the fourteenth chapter, Jesus speaks of himself and his departure. Then Thomas says: ‘We do not know the way you are going. How do we know that?’ To which Jesus replied: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. Those who know me know the Father.’ The third opportunity is to see Jesus after the ascension. Jesus sees Thomas, who says he will not believe unless he sees Jesus face to face and touches the wound in his hand. We always remember Thomas’s response looking at the hands, ‘My Lord and my God.’ We have the tradition of St. Thomas, who always stood firm in his faith. We should never miss it – Bishop exhorted.

Picture :TheUNN

Bishop Mar Joy Allapat of the Syro-Malabar Church pointed out that even in America, there is no certainty of what will happen in the future. “After Manipur, some people said Kerala would be the next target. Christianity arrived in Kerala much before Europe Embraced it. However, today our brothers are facing difficulties back home in India. Historically we have faced persecution. However, Bible speaks about being strengthened in the face of persecution. As the Bible says, we are like sheep in the middle of wolves. Therefore, let us unite and encourage our brothers in Manipur,” the Bishop added.

Picture :TheUNN

Rt. Rev. Dr. C.V Mathew of the Evangelical Church spoke about the Manipur situation and wondered aloud why the Indianness of Christians is being questioned. He implored the authorities to respect the constitution that guarantees the religious freedom of every citizen. He also encouraged the people to unite and support those in harm’s way. Rt. Rev. Johncy Itty of the Episcopal Church applauded the organizers of the Indian Christian Day, pointing out that we would never give up faith because of persecution.

Rev. Mark Mang explained Manipur’s pain. He said he has been in America for eight years, currently serving as a Chaplain. We don’t know what heaven is like. But we think it’s all coming together so as this gathering. His cousin and four others fell victim to the unlicensed gun of the assailants while defending the village. The riot could have been stopped in one day. It didn’t happen. Three hundred fifty-four churches were destroyed, and it continues. It is not even possible to go and bury the dead bodies in the hospital. More than fifty thousand people are refugees in different states. There will be torture and killings, but in the end, God’s glory will be revealed there. Pray for us and bring help. He said that he is thinking of going to Manipur soon.

Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations President Koshy George (Fiacona) pointed out that it has been decided to celebrate St. Thomas’s Day, July 3, as Indian Christian Day everywhere. The day before, the celebration took place in Boston, and on July 3 rd across India as well. Efforts are being made to bring a new understanding that Christianity is two thousand years old in India, and St.Thomas came in A.D. 52 and was martyred on July 3, A.D. 72. There are thousands of denominations among Christians. But we all worship Jesus while believing in the Trinity. He asked if it would be best to set aside all our differences and meet at least for one day.

Guests were given a history of the seven and a half churches founded by St. Thomas and a report on atrocities in India. State Senator John Lou, Sibu Nair of the Asian Outreach Officer in the N.Y. Governor’s Office, Rev. Jacob George, and others spoke.

Rev. Wilson Jose offered the opening prayer, and Fr. John Thomas offered the closing prayer. Rev.N.K. Matthew offered a special prayer for the people in Manipur.

Picture :TheUNN

George Abraham, who expressed a vote of thanks, pointed out that those who are from Kerala do not know much about civil wars. We don’t know the condition of being chased away from home and worried about the future in the corner of some school or abandoned building. He encouraged everyone to help those who are driven into such a situation in Manipur. FIACONA was formed when there was an attack on Christians in Dangs district of Gujarat. When Graham Staines and his children were burnt to death, we condemned such a heinous crime. Unfortunately, only a few people know about this organization. Many people from all spheres of life are working hard with dedication in defense of religious freedom everywhere. Some people have paid a heavy price for their advocacy. John Prabhudoss, the chairman, is currently barred from entering India. There is a fear that the OCI card is being weaponized to silence the critics abroad. He expressed hope that NRIs will be energized to defend human rights and religious freedom here in the U.S. as well as in India.

CSI Jubilee Choir, New York Men’s Voices, IPC Jamaica Choir Rev. Milton James (solo), and Bethlehem Punjabi Church sang.

Koshi George, Dr. Leno Thomas, Mary Phillips, Dr. Anna George, Koshi Thomas, Paul D. Panakkal, George Abraham, Raju Abraham, Matthew P Thomas, Matthew Eapan, Jerin Joe James, Pastor Jacob George, Shaimi Jacob, Koshi Thomas, Rev. Milton G. James (Sr.), George Chacko, John Joseph, Chuck Pillai, Don Thomas, Dr. Cynthia Prabhakar, Rev. Anadhasekhar Manuel, rev. Christer Solomon, Lona Abraham, and others led the way.

Vivek Ramaswamy Supports Ban On Affirmative Action

Indian-American Republican presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban affirmative action at universities and colleges, which allowed educational institutes to admit an increased number of Black, Hispanic, and other minority students on campus. According to the Republican affirmative action is “one of the most disastrous and failed policy experiments of last century.”

Calling affirmative action as “one of the most disastrous and failed policy experiments of last century,” in a tweet Ramaswamy said that it was time to restore “colorblind meritocracy” in America. He also vowed to repeal President Lyndon Johnson’s executive order 11246 which mandated affirmative action in the private sector.

Johnson’s order required federal contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and treated without bias during employment. According to Ramaswamy, the order was unfair to White Americans and Asian Americans as well as Hispanic and Black Americans who were looked down upon by their colleagues despite having achieved their positions based on merit.

“Everyone loses in the end,” Ramaswamy asserted and pledged that his goal after being elected as President of the U.S. will be to end affirmative action across all spheres of American life.

In another development, a US newspaper editor has apologized to Indian Americans for publishing an “offensive” cartoon that played on stereotypes of the community while trying to criticise Vivek Ramaswamy who is seeking the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

“Racist and hateful ideas, words or images have no place in our publications, much less our society”, Tom Martin, the executive editor of the Quad City Times said in the apology to the community and Ramaswamy published in his paper on Friday.

He said that the cartoonist, Leo Kelly, has been banished from the newspaper.

But Ramaswamy came to the defence of the cartoonist in a letter published in the paper. “Let’s not go further or see people get fired over it; the cartoonist should in no way be ‘cancelled.’ We are all human”, he wrote.

“I’m empathetic to people who make mistakes once in a while”, he wrote while accepting the editor’s apology.

The cartoon sought to show Republicans as bigots with whom Ramaswamy was aligned, but it backfired as it was someone opposed to that party and the candidate who used the anti-Indian epithet.

The Quad-City Times is a regional newspaper based in Davenport, Iowa, which also covers parts of neighbouring Illinois. It is owned by the media company Lee Enterprises which publishes over 70 newspapers across the US, including the Dispatch-Argus, which also published the cartoon.

“We apologise today for letting such an image slip through our editorial process and into our opinion page Wednesday in the form of a political cartoon,” Martin wrote.

He added: “The cartoon, while intended to criticise racist ideas and epithets, uses a phrase that is racist and insensitive to members of our Indian American community.”

The phrase apparently is “Get me a slushee, Apu” that a character in the cartoon is shown shouting at Ramaswamy in an almost empty hall. “Apu Nahasapeemapetilon” runs a store in the popular animated TV cartoon serial, “The Simpsons”, and spoke in an exaggerated Indian accent voiced over by a White American comedian, Hank Azaria.

“Apu” has been turned into a racist taunt used against Indians, especially for bullying school children. The problem was highlighted in a documentary, “The Problem with Apu”, produced by Indian American comedian Hari Kondabolu. Because of protests over the way Apu was presented and how it became a tool for harassment, the character was taken off the show but has returned occasionally with non-speaking background appearances.

Azaria has repeatedly apologized for his role in spreading the stereotype of Indians telling an interviewer, “I did not know any better”.

After the cartoon was published, Ramaswamy tweeted, “It’s sad that this is how the MSM (mainstream media) views Republicans. I’ve met with grassroots conservatives across America & never *once* experienced the kind of bigotry that I regularly see from the Left.”

“Iowa’s @qctimes absolutely has the right to print this, but it’s still shameful”, he added.

Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley, the Indian American candidate for the Republican nomination, along with Tim Scott, an African American senator seeking the nomination have come for intense criticism from Democrats and their supporters who believe that non-Whites should be loyal only to their party. The cartoon sought to convey the idea that Ramaswamy was under bigoted attack by Republicans with the other characters shouting “Muslim” and “Show us your birth certificate” while he greets them saying “Hello, my MAGA friends”. (MAGA standards for Make America Great Again, a rallying cry of former President Donald Trump taken up by the Republican right.)

“It is the dripping disdain from the far left — the elite condescension from the Democrat Party — that we will never escape”, said Emily Compagno, a conservative TV host, referring to the cartoon.

President Biden’s Age Emerges as Major Hurdle for Re-election Bid

The most significant obstacle President Biden faces in winning re-election next year appears to be voters’ concerns that he is too old to serve another four-year term.

Biden, at 80 years old, is now the most seasoned individual to act as president, and he would be 86 toward the finish of his subsequent term.

The life span would beat whatever other president who served overwhelmingly. Reagan completed his second term at the age of 77, while Trump, who is favored to win the GOP nomination, completed his first term at the age of 74.

In order to persuade voters that he possesses the mental and physical capacity to run for reelection, Biden has some work to do.

An astounding 68 percent of electors in a new NBC News survey said they stress over Biden’s wellbeing with 55% reflecting “major” concerns.

In a USA Today/Suffolk College survey of leftists and Free movers, 37% say the president’s age made them less inclined to decide in favor of him. According to a third survey conducted by The Economist and YouGov, 45% of independents believe that Biden’s health and age “severely limit his ability to do the job.”

“The president’s age is surely going to be a headwind on his re-appointment crusade. The surveying says as much, and the models will surely continue to come as he is in the public eye,” said Stewart Verdery, who served in previous President George W. Bramble’s organization.

However, Monument Advocacy’s CEO, Verdery, suggested that Biden’s age might not be as important in a general election against Trump, who is 77 years old.

“On the off chance that he were possible going against a cutting edge JFK on a boat, it very well may be a greater amount of an issue. However, “the president’s age may cause swing voters to pause before they still pull the lever for him,” he stated, “as long as his main adversary is in Mar-a-Lago.”

Questions about Biden’s health were pushed back this week by the White House.

“The president — shoot, he voyaged yesterday, he’s voyaging again today. During the midterms, you saw how far he traveled. What’s more, particularly his unfamiliar travel, this is somebody who is unquestionably dynamic as president,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.

In recent speeches, Biden has become increasingly self-deprecating about his age, joking that he is 198, 103, or 110.

He has reportedly sought advice from Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is encouraging him to own his longevity like Harrison Ford and Mick Jagger. He has acknowledged that his age is a concern for some voters.

“Incidentally, I’ve been doing this quite a while. I realize I don’t look that old. I know. I’m somewhat under 103,” Biden said in ongoing comments. ” Yet, in all seriousness … I was a really strong congressperson.”

In any case, the 80-year-old president’s age is likewise now something that persists into all that he does, putting a physical or verbal stagger under an alternate sort of magnifying lens.

At the point when he stumbled and fell at an occasion recently, there were stresses over his wellbeing. To his political enemies, it was proof of his delicate state, regardless of whether a more youthful man could likewise have stumbled.

Biden, who has a long history of making false statements, mistook Ukraine for Iraq twice on Monday night and Tuesday.

These errors are used by opponents as evidence that Biden has fallen behind and should not run for a second term.

Conservative official competitor Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a meeting with Fox News this week, said he thinks California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is “moving behind the scenes,” and it would be intriguing to perceive how things work out “on the off chance that Biden doesn’t conclusively make it.”

“They would have a genuine comedian show in the event that Biden couldn’t make it,” he added. His remarks reverberation individual conservative official applicant Nikki Haley, who said in April that Biden is probably not going to “make it” to 86.

A few political examiners think the GOP is behaving recklessly in pursuing Biden’s age, regardless of whether it is an issue for certain electors. According to them, it might enrage older voters.

“You can call attention to it, however you would rather not incline in that frame of mind here,” said GOP specialist Doug Heye. ” Tone is significant here. You can discuss botches that he’s made, etc. However, if you go over the top, you run the risk of being attacked, particularly by older voters.

Jim Kessler, chief VP for strategy for the Majority rule think tank Third Way, said the best thing for the White House to do is center around the president’s achievements.

“They can make a counterargument, which is that his experience has had the effect. And what he has accomplished over the past two and a half years is close to a biblical miracle, if you look at it,” he stated. Like, nobody thought the quantity of bipartisan bills passed the last Congress was conceivable. What’s more, it worked out. He outsmarted Vladimir Putin.”

Biden’s use of a CPAP machine to improve his sleep quality was confirmed this week by the White House after reporters noticed lines on his face.

Republicans say that Trump has an advantage over Biden because of his apparent energy, even though he is close to 80.

If they win the debate and nominations for their respective parties, Heye stated, voters will eventually be able to compare the two.

Democrats are ignoring the verbal gaffes, pointing out that they also occurred when Biden was younger.

“President Biden’s age has been an issue since before the 2020 political race, and he’s been famous for making blunders the majority of his political vocation. “There really isn’t much new here,” a supporter of Biden stated.

Biden faces different difficulties, including the economy and child Tracker Biden’s legitimate issues, which have drawn GOP examination. His lower approval ratings, which have remained around 40%, are also due to these factors.

In any case, many see age as an issue where Biden will by and by need to demonstrate something to the electorate.

“The No. Regardless of where I am, one thing I hear about Biden is his age. Furthermore, that is valid for individuals who like them. That is valid individuals who could do without him,” Heye said. ” Therefore, he has a real issue there.”

How Modi and Biden Turbocharged India-US Ties

US President Joe Biden hails the partnership with India as one of the “most consequential in the world” following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s grand state visit to Washington. Exploring the potential of this visit in strengthening ties between the two nations, experts highlight the transformative nature of the relationship. According to Michael Kugelman of The Wilson Center, the India-US summit indicates a broad and deep connection that has developed in a relatively short period. He states, “It underscores just how broad and deep it has become in a relatively short time.”

One significant driving factor behind the deepening relationship is the US’s aim to establish India as a counterbalance to China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region. While the promise of India-US ties had previously been limited due to India’s liability law and a fading commitment during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure, the enthusiasm to embrace the US has surged under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. Seema Sirohi, author of “Friends With Benefits: The India-US Story,” explains, “With Mr Modi, there has been a lot more enthusiasm about embracing the US. Mr Biden has also given an overall broad directive to make it work.”

The US has demonstrated its commitment to the relationship by actively pursuing substantial outcomes during Prime Minister Modi’s visit. Areas of focus include defense-industrial cooperation and technology transfer. Noteworthy collaborations include General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited partnering to manufacture advanced fighter jet engines in India. This move represents a significant transfer of US jet engine technology, emphasizing Washington’s willingness to not only sell arms but also share military technology.

Additionally, India plans to purchase $3 billion worth of MQ-9B Predator drones from General Atomics, which will establish a facility in India for assembly. This aligns with Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign. While Russia remains India’s largest arms supplier, the US aims to become the primary provider in the coming years. The objective, as highlighted by Michael Kugelman, is to “strengthen India’s military capacity to counter China.”

Recognizing the importance of technology and the future, India seeks to establish itself as a semiconductor hub. Micron Technology, a US memory chip giant, plans to invest up to $825 million in building a semiconductor assembly and test facility in India, which will generate numerous job opportunities. Furthermore, Lam Research, a US semiconductor equipment maker, will train 60,000 Indian engineers to accelerate semiconductor education and workforce development. Applied Materials, the largest semiconductor manufacturing equipment supplier, will invest $400 million to establish an engineering center in India.

Seema Sirohi sums up the current focus of the India-US relationship, stating, “It is all about the future now. Both sides are talking about cutting-edge technologies and how to seed and shape the future.” While the relationship between India and the US has experienced fluctuations over the years, the recent visit signifies a more substantial and forward-looking connection.

India’s approach to geopolitics and its position in the global order has shaped its foreign policy, rooted in the strategy of nonalignment established by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister. India has always sought to maintain its independence and avoid being perceived as subservient to any global superpower. Prime Minister Modi continues to uphold the ideals of “strategic altruism” in Indian foreign policy, despite leading a more economically and geopolitically influential India. He has developed close relationships with former US presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, and now with President Biden, while preserving India’s “strategic autonomy.”

While the Biden administration may have desired a stronger stance from India on Russia and China, Prime Minister Modi’s approach did not compromise India’s strategic autonomy. Although he refrained from mentioning Russia, he reiterated the importance of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. He also emphasized the significance of a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific without directly mentioning China. This delicate balance allowed Mr. Modi to push the boundaries of strategic autonomy without undermining the success of his visit.

The defense collaboration between India and the US has strengthened, with increased cooperation, joint exercises, intelligence sharing, and the utilization of each other’s facilities for refueling and maintenance purposes. This progress, without formalizing a full-fledged alliance, demonstrates Mr. Modi’s ability to test the limits of strategic autonomy. Michael Kugelman acknowledges his achievement, stating, “In the sense that he is getting about as close as you can to a major power without signing on to a full-fledged alliance.”

While trade disputes and tariffs have been contentious issues between India and the US in recent years, the two nations announced the resolution of six separate trade disputes, including tariff-related disputes, during the visit. The US is currently India’s top trading partner, and analysts see tremendous untapped potential for further growth, given India’s expanding middle class and its aspiration to become a manufacturing hub and an alternative to China in the global supply chain. Resolving trade disputes will undoubtedly provide a significant boost to India-US trade ties and help unlock their full potential.

Despite concerns raised by critics in Washington regarding democratic backsliding under Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), there is a bipartisan agreement to deepen and broaden the relationship between India and the US. While some progressives in the Democratic Party express concerns about the treatment of minorities in India, the broader consensus recognizes the importance of strengthening the relationship, especially considering the growing influence of China. Seema Sirohi asserts that the India-US strategic partnership has indeed reached the next level, characterized by mutual need and mutual benefit.

In conclusion, India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Modi reflects a delicate balance between preserving strategic autonomy, fostering strong ties with the US, and positioning India as a significant global player. The successful state visit solidified the partnership between India and the US, with a focus on defense collaboration, the resolution of trade disputes, and the recognition of shared interests and benefits.

End Of The Student Loan Pause Is Imminent

The student loan pause has been in place since March 2020, initially enacted by former President Trump using emergency authority in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This was later solidified through legislation passed by Congress. The moratorium halted payments and interest on government-held federal student loans and ceased collection efforts against defaulting borrowers.

Initially planned for six months, the pause was extended by the Trump administration as the pandemic persisted. Upon taking office, President Biden continued this trend with several short-term extensions. Biden’s latest extension is connected to the Supreme Court legal battle over his separate student loan forgiveness plan.

In the recent bipartisan bill to raise the debt ceiling, Biden succeeded in maintaining his primary student debt relief initiatives, such as his loan forgiveness plan. However, during negotiations with congressional Republicans, he agreed to set the end of the student loan pause for this summer. Payments are now scheduled to recommence after August. Given the new legislation, it is improbable that Biden will be able to extend the student loan pause beyond that, unless a new national emergency arises.

Significant Changes in Student Loan Servicing

As borrowers prepare to resume repayments, they will encounter one of the most substantial changes in the student loan landscape: student loan servicing. Loan servicers are contractors who manage borrower accounts on behalf of the Department of Education.

Over the past three years, the student loan servicing sector has experienced significant upheaval. Several contracted Department of Education servicers have exited the Federal Student Aid system, and others have stepped in to manage those accounts. A recent report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reveals that more than 40% of borrowers will have a different loan servicer compared to before the student loan pause was implemented.

Major changes include FedLoan Servicing’s departure, with accounts being transferred to EdFinancial, MOHELA, and other loan servicers. Navient also transferred its Department of Education accounts to Aidvantage, while Great Lakes Higher Education has been moving its department portfolio to Nelnet.

Student loan servicers fulfill crucial roles such as accepting payments, reviewing repayment plan requests, processing forms and paperwork, and addressing borrowers’ questions. Advocates have cautioned that due to the alterations in loan servicing and financial constraints, the Department of Education’s student loan servicing might struggle to handle the pressure of millions of borrowers resuming repayments simultaneously.

Biden’s Emerging Student Loan Repayment Plan

The Biden administration is currently working on a new income-based student loan repayment plan (essentially revamping an existing income-driven repayment plan). The latest proposal suggests that this plan could decrease some borrowers’ monthly payments by 50% or more and expedite student loan forgiveness.

However, the plan is not yet finalized and won’t be fully accessible when payments restart later this summer. The Department of Education is expected to release updated proposed regulations in the coming months and may begin implementing certain aspects of the plan later this year or in 2024. This would offer borrowers a potential new path to more affordable payments after the student loan pause concludes. As the new plan is introduced, some existing income-driven plans might be phased out, potentially causing confusion among borrowers.

Account Adjustment Potentially Leading to Student Loan Forgiveness This Summer

While President Biden’s flagship student loan forgiveness plan (which can eliminate up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt) awaits a Supreme Court decision, another significant debt relief program is advancing.

The IDR Account Adjustment will enable the Department of Education to credit borrowers with previous loan periods towards their 20- or 25-year student loan forgiveness term under income-driven repayment plans. Borrowers with government-held federal student loans can automatically receive these benefits, even if they aren’t currently enrolled in an IDR plan.

Borrowers who accumulate enough credit to meet the threshold for student loan forgiveness under IDR programs will be eligible for loan discharge. The department anticipates beginning loan balance discharges by August, coinciding with the resumption of repayments. As a result, some borrowers who were expecting to make payments might not have to.

Other borrowers who obtain retroactive IDR credit but fall short of the forgiveness threshold will have their accounts updated sometime next year. These borrowers should then consider switching to or continuing with an IDR plan to make ongoing progress.

New Student Loan Forgiveness Regulations

New student loan forgiveness regulations established by the Biden administration will take effect on July 1. These regulations will influence almost every major federal student loan forgiveness program.

The new rules will solidify some recent temporary flexibilities for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, easing the definitions of qualifying payments and qualifying PSLF employment, enabling more borrowers to receive PSLF credit and ultimately, loan forgiveness.

Additionally, new regulations will expand access and relief and simplify the application process for other student loan forgiveness programs, such as the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program and Borrower Defense to Repayment. Unlike Biden’s new student loan repayment plan, which is still being finalized, these regulatory changes are essentially complete and should be in effect when borrowers return to repayment.

Trump’s Motive for Retaining Classified Documents Remains a Mystery

Despite the comprehensive evidence presented in the 38-count indictment accusing former President Donald J. Trump of retaining hundreds of classified documents and subsequently obstructing the government’s attempts to recover them, one enigma persists: what motivated him to seize these materials and fiercely resist relinquishing them?

The rationale behind Trump’s possession of thousands of presidential records, including over 300 classified documents, at his Mar-a-Lago residence and exclusive club in Palm Beach, Florida, is not explicitly discussed in the 49-page indictment filed last Thursday in Miami. The charges do not imply that Trump had an overarching objective beyond simply owning the items.

Although determining a motive might be advantageous for prosecutors if Trump stands trial, it may not be essential for establishing the legal foundation of the case against him. Nevertheless, the reason behind Trump’s retention of a vast array of highly confidential documents and his alleged efforts to avoid returning them remains unresolved, even after nearly 15 months of investigation by the Justice Department.

The indictment does provide some clues. It details how Trump, who often seeks retributionagainst those he perceives as adversaries, brandished a classified “plan of attack” against Iran during a meeting in July 2021 at his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey. He did this to refute criticism from Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a recording of the meeting, Trump can be heard shuffling papers and informing those present that the document substantiated his position in the disagreement with General Milley, stating, “This totally wins my case, you know.”

Other instances in the indictment depict an aide referring to the materials Trump transported in boxes as “his papers,” suggesting that he was reluctant to relinquish the privileges associated with the nation’s highest office. Similarly, the indictment portrays Trump as attempting to prevent a lawyer he hired to search Mar-a-Lago for any remaining classified materials from examining the records he stored there. Trump is quoted as saying, “I don’t want anybody looking through my boxes,” indicating a sense of personal ownership over the materials.

This feeling of ownership was so strong that his aides, as shown in text messages included in the indictment, were clearly apprehensive about moving the items too far from him. Numerous former aides and advisors to Trump have long argued that he kept the sensitive records because he regarded them as “mine” and enjoyed collecting trophies to display, regardless of their form.

Trump’s penchant for showcasing various prizes is well-documented. As a businessman and playboy in Manhattan, he sought to be seen with attractive women, purchased the Plaza Hotel as a “toy” for his then-wife Ivana, and accumulated high-end trinkets to flaunt to visitors in his office. During his presidency, he treated the nation’s secrets similarly, sharing classified information with Russian officials in 2017 and posting a classified photo on Twitter in 2019.

Throughout the case investigation, special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors took actions suggesting a search for motive. They subpoenaed information about the Trump Organization’s business dealings with seven foreign countries starting in 2017, seemingly aiming to determine if any documents could have been used to support his international ventures. However, the indictment makes no mention of Trump utilizing the documents for business purposes.

Chris Christie, a former friend and adversary of Trump, proposed a straightforward explanation last year, stating, “I think it’s much more likely they’re a trophy that he walks around and says, look, I’ve got this.” Christie believes Trump is unable to accept that he is no longer president and uses these documents as a way to maintain some of the trappings of his former position. This may also explain why Trump had a replica of the Oval Office Resolute Desk installed in his Mar-a-Lago office. Christie concludes, “All the rest of those things are things that are assuaging, you know, his disappointment and his disbelief that he’s not the president anymore.”

Modi Arrives In New York For A State Visit To USA

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in New York on Tuesday, 20 June 2023 as part of the first leg of his three-day State visit to the United States. Modi’s visit will include an Oval Office meeting with Biden, an invitation to address a joint session of Congress, and a formal state dinner at the White House.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to New York includes celebration of International Yoga Day at the UN headquarters and interaction with thought leaders as well the Indian diaspora. Modi will lead the International Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarter lawns. It will be the first time when the yoga day’s main event will be held abroad, nine years after India had proposed to mark it as an annual commemoration.

“Landed in New York City. Looking forward to the programmes here including interaction with thought leaders and the Yoga Day programme tomorrow, 21st June,” Mr. Modi tweeted.

Mr. Modi was received in New York by India’s Ambassador to the U.S., Taranjit Singh Sandhu and India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj.

Modi will meet first with Elon Musk. The meeting between the two since the billionaire took over reins of the social media platform and introduced sweeping changes. Modi will also meet top thought leaders including American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, senior World Bank official Paul Romer, Lebanese-American essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb, investor Ray Dalio, and American singer Falu Shah.

After New York, PM Modi will head straight to the capital Washington DC to meet President Biden and First Lady. On Day 2, PM Modi will be accorded a ceremonial welcome by President Biden at the White House. More than a thousand people including members of the diaspora are expected to attend the event. The prime minister will hold a high level dialogue with the US President. Biden is the third president which Modi will meet in the US, the others being Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

According to reports, both India and United States are expected to take forward movement on crucial defence deals. It includes those for manufacturing GE Aviation’s F414 engine and for acquiring 31 MQ-9 weaponised drones.

After the bilateral meet, Modi will address the joint session of the US Congress, the second time since 2016. Former British prime minister Winston Churchill and South African president Nelson Mandela are some of the world leaders to be accorded this honour twice.

In the evening, Biden and the First Lady will host a state dinner in honour of PM Modi that evening. Several guests including members of Congress, diplomats and celebrities are expected to attend the dinner.

Day after meeting Biden, PM Modi will be jointly hosted at a luncheon by US vice-president Kamala Harris and secretary of state Antony Blinken. He is also scheduled to have interactions with CEOs, professionals and other stakeholders.

The prime minister will address an invitation-only gathering of diaspora leaders at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC. The event will be for two hours from 7pm to 9pm (local time) on June 23.Award-winning international singer Mary Millben will perform for Modi and other guests.

Previously, Modi has visited the US a total of five times since taking oath as the prime minister in 2014. However, this particular visit has been termed as a milestone in ties between the two countries that would deepen and diversify their partnership as this will be his first with the full diplomatic status of an official State visit.

During this visit, India and the US are expected to expand cooperation in the defence industry and high technology sectors, with India getting access to critical American technologies that Washington rarely shares with non-allies.

After Trump Is Arraigned, What Happens Next?

Former President Donald Trump appeared somber and quiet in a Miami courtroom, hands clasped and leaning back in his chair at times, speaking aloud only to utter the words “not guilty” to 37 federal counts stemming from his handling of classified documents on Tuesday, June 13th, 2023, marking the first time in US history that a former president will face criminal charges.

Astoundingly, it was the second time in three months that Trump has been indicted. Trump also faces criminal charges in a New York state court where he pleaded not guilty in April to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. In addition, he still faces investigations surrounding attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and the special counsel’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

This marks the first instance of a former president facing federal charges. Among the charges are a violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, destruction or falsification of records, conspiracy, and false statements, as confirmed by Trump’s attorney, Jim Trusty, on CNN.

The investigation focuses on Trump’s management of classified documents brought to his Mar-a-Lago Florida resort after leaving the White House in 2021 and any possible obstruction or government attempts to retrieve the material. Trump announced on Truth Social that he was informed of the indictment by the Justice Department and is “summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM.” He referred to the situation as the “Boxes Hoax.”

This federal indictment marks the second time Trump has faced criminal charges this year, following the Manhattan district attorney’s 34-count charge against him for falsifying business in April. However, the special counsel’s indictment signifies a new and more dangerous legal stage for the former president, who is running for office again in 2024 while dealing with criminal charges in two jurisdictions and two ongoing investigations into his conduct.

The charges come seven months after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith as special counsel, in response to Trump announcing his presidential run, to maintain the investigation’s independence from the Biden Justice Department. Trump now faces federal charges from the special counsel while attempting to defeat President Joe Biden in the upcoming election. The White House declined to comment on the situation Thursday evening.

Trump has consistently criticized the special counsel investigation and other inquiries into his conduct as politically motivated. He maintains that any criminal charges will not hinder his 2024 campaign. In a four-minute video released on Thursday, Trump reiterated past claims, stating that the Justice Department is being weaponized and investigations into him are “election interference.” He insisted, “I am an innocent man. I did nothing wrong.”

CNN sources revealed that Trump and his team pre-recorded the video response before the Justice Department officially informed him of the indictment, as initially reported by The New York Times.

Throughout his personal, professional, and political life, Trump has largely evaded legal consequences. He has settled several private civil lawsuits over the years and resolved disputes involving the Trump Organization. As president, he was impeached twice by the Democrat-led House but avoided conviction by the Senate.

However, after leaving office, Justice Department criminal investigations into the retention of classified information at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and his attempts to overturn the 2020 election cast a shadow over him. Smith’s ongoing investigation into the January 6 events and efforts to overturn the election further darkens this cloud.

In addition to the Manhattan district attorney’s April indictment, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to announce in August whether her investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia will result in any charges.

Trump’s congressional allies swiftly rallied to his defense on social media, just as they had done when he was indicted in New York in April. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted that it was “a dark day for the United States of America.” House GOP conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, said in a statement, “The radical Far Left will stop at nothing to interfere with the 2024 election in order to prop up the catastrophic presidency and desperate campaign of Joe Biden.” House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, tweeted, “Sad day for America. God Bless President Trump.”

Several Democrats who investigated Trump during his presidency claimed that the indictment demonstrated that no one is above the law. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who led the House’s first impeachment of Trump in 2019, wrote, “Trump’s apparent indictment on multiple charges arising from his retention of classified materials is another affirmation of the rule of law. For four years, he acted like he was above the law. But he should be treated like any other lawbreaker. And today, he has been.”

The Justice Department’s inquiry into Trump’s handling of documents from his time in office came to light in August when FBI agents executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, seizing thousands of documents, including around 100 marked as classified. The Trump Organization was also subpoenaed for surveillance footage from the resort. Prosecutors were investigating potential criminal mishandling of national security information and obstruction of justice.

The DOJ previously claimed that classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at Mar-a-Lago in an effort to “obstruct” the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s possible mishandling of classified materials. After Trump returned 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives in January, the Justice Department subpoenaed him in May for any remaining classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump was indicted last week on 37 counts related to more than 100 classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago in August. The charges include willful retention of national defense information and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Trump surrendered to authorities at the federal courthouse in Miami. He pleaded not guilty and left the courthouse roughly two hours later. At his initial court appearance, Trump was represented by attorney Todd Blanche and former Florida Solicitor General Chris Kise.

Trump signed a bond document that prohibits him from discussing his case with certain witnesses — an unusual anti-witness-tampering provision added by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman that the prosecution had not sought.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Goodman presided over the arraignment, but the case will be overseen by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who ruled in Trump’s favor in an earlier dispute in the investigation.

Later that night, Trump in a speech to his supporters claimed that according to the Presidential Records Act, “I was supposed to negotiate with NARA, which is exactly what I was doing until Mar-a-Lago was raided by FBI agents.”

The National Archives and Records Administration said in a news release last week that the Presidential Records Act “requires that all records created by Presidents (and Vice-Presidents) be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at the end of their administrations” and that outgoing presidents are required to separate personal documents from presidential records before they leave office.

US District Judge Aileen Cannon, whom Trump appointed in 2019, is reportedly overseeing the case for now. She previously appointed a special master to examine the documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago last year at the Trump team’s request, and was criticized for delivering Trump several perplexing legal wins in the first phase of the documents case proceedings.

In the days since his indictment, Trump has indicated on his social network Truth Social that he intends to fight the charges, calling them the product of a political “witch hunt” and an attempt to interfere with the 2024 election.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released on Sunday showed 61% believe the federal charges “related to Trump’s handling of classified documents are serious.” By contrast, pollsters found that just 52% of those surveyed in April said the same about a New York grand jury indictment against Trump on charges stemming from a hush-money payment to a porn actress in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges, says he’s seeking a “speedy trial,” “consistent with the public interest and the rights of the accused.” But “speedy” in the federal justice system is a relative term. It may be months before Trump’s trial begins.

So, what comes next after Trump’s arraignment, where the former president pleaded “not guilty” to more than three dozen federal charges, including willful retention of classified information and obstruction of justice, over his handling of classified documents post-presidency?

H-1B Visa Holders Face Challenges Amid Tech Layoffs

As the technology industry experiences a wave of layoffs, H-1B visa holders are finding themselves in a precarious situation. These skilled foreign workers, who come to the United States to work in specialized fields such as technology and engineering, are now facing uncertainty in their careers and the prospect of having to leave the country.

In a recent report by CNBC, it was highlighted that many H-1B visa holders are being affected by job cuts in the tech sector. The situation is particularly challenging for these individuals, as their visa status is tied to their employment. Losing their job could result in losing their legal status in the United States, forcing them to return to their home countries.

The H-1B visa program has been a significant source of talent for the U.S. tech industry, attracting highly skilled professionals from across the globe. However, the current economic climate and the ongoing pandemic have led to a surge in layoffs, with companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Lyft announcing significant job cuts. This has left thousands of H-1B visa holders scrambling to find new employment within the short period allowed by their visas.

Many H-1B visa holders are also grappling with the uncertainty surrounding the future of the program itself. The Trump administration had introduced various restrictions on the H-1B visa program, making it more difficult for skilled foreign workers to obtain and maintain their visas. While the Biden administration has expressed interest in reversing some of these policies, the future of the program remains uncertain.

This uncertainty has led to an increased sense of urgency among H-1B visa holders to secure new employment. Additionally, the competitive job market has made it more difficult for these individuals to find suitable positions within their fields. Many are left with no choice but to accept lower-paying jobs or positions outside their areas of expertise in order to maintain their legal status.

The challenges faced by H-1B visa holders during these layoffs not only impact the individuals themselves but also the U.S. economy as a whole. The loss of skilled foreign workers could lead to a talent gap in the tech industry, hindering innovation and growth.

As the tech sector continues to navigate through the economic downturn and the ongoing pandemic, the fate of many H-1B visa holders hangs in the balance. For now, these skilled professionals must face the challenges of an uncertain job market and the potential loss of their legal status in the United States.

Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes Sentenced to 18 Years for Seditious Conspiracy in Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in federal prison in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, after being convicted of seditious conspiracy. This sentence is the longest imposed on any Jan. 6 defendant to date. During his sentencing, Rhodes delivered a politically-charged speech claiming that he was a “political prisoner.” However, the judge disagreed, stating that Rhodes’ actions led to his criminal convictions. Judge Amit Mehta further highlighted that Rhodes poses a continuing threat to the country, the republic, and the fabric of democracy. Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in November alongside Kelly Meggs, a fellow Oath Keepers member.

Rhodes’ pre-attack message, “They won’t fear us until we come with rifles in hand,” and his statement after the attack, where he expressed regret for not bringing rifles, were produced in court during his trial. He even wrote in a message before Jan. 6, “On the 6th, they are going to put the final nail in the coffin of this Republic, unless we fight our way out. With Trump (preferably) or without him, we have no choice.” At the Olive Garden restaurant in Virginia after the attack, Rhodes met with other Oath Keepers and celebrated their actions, writing, “Patriots, it was a long day but a day when patriots began to stand.”

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit during his sentencing, Rhodes claimed that the only crime he committed was opposing those who are “destroying our country.” Yet, Judge Mehta emphasized that Rhodes’ criminal convictions were based on his actions before, during, and after Jan. 6 and not his beliefs or political affiliations. Mehta also rejected Rhodes’ argument that he was a “political prisoner,” stating, “You are not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes.”

Meggs, another Oath Keepers member who was convicted of seditious conspiracy alongside Rhodes, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. Mehta noted that Meggs did not pose the same continuing threat as Rhodes and that a shorter sentence was more appropriate. At the hearing, Meggs expressed regret for his actions and apologized to his family.

Rhodes and Meggs were tried alongside Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson, and Thomas Caldwell, who were convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, but not seditious conspiracy. Watkins and Harrelson will receive their sentences on Friday. Rhodes took the stand and distanced himself from the other Oath Keepers, stating that he believed that the storming of the Capitol was a foolish act. However, government messages showed that Rhodes viewed Jan. 6 as the last opportunity to prevent a government takeover.

Prior to Rhodes’ and Meggs’ sentencing, Peter Schwartz, who assaulted officers during the Capitol attack, was sentenced to just over 14 years in prison. Schwartz had 38 prior convictions. The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sparked outrage across the United States and prompted numerous investigations, arrests, and convictions. According to the Department of Justice, over 600 people have been charged in connection with the attack.

Biden Leads Democratic Primary Contenders

As President Joe Biden gears up for a potential second term, he enjoys a significant lead over his declared Democratic challengers. However, a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS reveals that his declining favorability ratings and the perception that his reelection would be detrimental to the nation could pose difficulties.

Only 33% of Americans believe that a Biden victory in 2024 would signify progress or triumph. The poll also highlights a drop in favorable opinions of Biden, from 42% in December to 35% currently. Furthermore, an earlier release of the same poll showed Biden’s presidential approval rating at a meager 40%, one of the lowest for a first-term president since Dwight Eisenhower at this stage in their tenure.

Within the Democratic party, 60% of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters support Biden as the frontrunner for next year’s Democratic nomination, while 20% favor activist and lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and 8% support author Marianne Williamson. Another 8% would back an unspecified “someone else.”

The majority of Biden’s primary supporters are unwavering, with 58% stating they will definitely support him, while 42% admit they could change their minds. In contrast, only 19% of those backing other candidates are firmly committed, with 81% open to changing their minds.

The poll indicates that Biden is likely to gain the support of most Democratic-aligned voters in 2024, with only 14% saying they wouldn’t back him in the primary and 7% stating they definitely wouldn’t support him in November 2024 if he secures the party’s nomination.

However, the results suggest that Biden may struggle to retain Democratic-aligned White non-college voters in the general election next year, as 16% say they definitely won’t support him in November 2024, compared to just 1% of White Democratic-aligned voters with college degrees and 5% of Democratic-aligned voters of color.

Biden’s vulnerabilities in the nomination race primarily lie among Democratic-leaning independents (40% support him for the nomination, compared to 67% among self-identified Democrats) and younger voters (49% under 45 years old support him, as opposed to 68% of those aged 45 or older).

A majority of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters would consider supporting either Kennedy (64% support or would consider him) or Williamson (53% back her or would consider her), but few seem deeply committed to either candidate.

Among those open to considering Kennedy, 20% cite his connection to the Kennedy family as the main reason, with one respondent stating, “I liked his dad (RFK) and his uncle (JFK) a lot. I would hope he has a similar mindset.” Many are simply curious and want to learn more about him, with 17% saying they don’t know enough to rule him out and 10% claiming they are open-minded and would consider any candidate. Some would back any Democrat (10%) or anyone who is not Trump (5%). Only 12% say they would consider him due to their support for his views or policies, and 4% specifically mention his environmental policy stances.

Of those who would consider Williamson, nearly 3 in 10 (28%) say they don’t know enough about her, 16% would consider her because she’s a Democrat, 8% would consider any candidate or are open-minded, and 9% view her as an alternative to Biden. One respondent said, “She is better than Joe Biden. I haven’t heard of her though.” Another 10% desire a female candidate, and 12% support her views or policies. One person commented, “She may not have a great political resume but she cares about important issues.”

The majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters do believe it’s likely that Biden will become the party’s candidate, with 55% saying it’s extremely or very likely, 28% deeming it somewhat likely, 11% considering it not too likely, and a mere 5% believing it’s not at all likely.

Securing public support for a second term might be an uphill battle for President Joe Biden. A significant 66% of Americans believe that a Biden victory would result in a setback or disaster for the country. In comparison, former President Donald Trump’s prospects appear slightly better, with 43% considering a Trump win as a triumph or step forward and 56% seeing it as a disaster or setback. Both candidates receive similar percentages regarding the perception of their victory as disastrous (44% for Trump and 41% for Biden). Among independents, 45% view a Trump win as disastrous, while 35% hold the same opinion for a Biden win.

The overarching negativity towards Biden can be attributed to a more pessimistic outlook among his party members compared to the optimism Trump enjoys from Republicans. A substantial 82% of Democrats perceive a Trump victory as disastrous, whereas 83% of Republicans feel the same about a Biden win. However, 85% of Republicans consider a Trump win a triumph or step forward, compared to 73% of Democrats expressing the same sentiment for Biden.

One advantage that Biden held over Trump in the 2020 election – a stronger favorability rating – may have dissipated. The poll reveals that 35% of Americans have a favorable view of Biden, while 57% have an unfavorable one, which is strikingly similar to Trump’s figures. Biden’s positive ratings have dropped from 42% in December, and among independents, his favorability has declined from 35% to 26%.

Biden’s ratings are significantly more negative than those of the three living Democratic past presidents. Barack Obama is the most positively viewed of all the living presidents tested in the poll, with 57% holding a favorable view and 35% an unfavorable one. Public opinion on Jimmy Carter is also positive, with 43% favorable and 21% unfavorable, while 36% are unsure or unable to rate him. Bill Clinton’s ratings are evenly split, with 41% expressing a favorable view and 42% an unfavorable one.

The CNN Poll, conducted by SSRS from May 17-20, included a random national sample of 1,227 adults drawn from a probability-based panel, featuring 432 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote. Surveys were administered either online or via telephone with a live interviewer. The full sample results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 points, while the margin of sampling error for Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters is 6.2 points.

Durham’s Report Claims FBI Lacked “Actual Evidence” To Investigate Trump’s 2016 Campaign

In a recently released report, U.S. Special Counsel John Durham stated that the FBI had no “actual evidence” to investigate Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and relied excessively on information provided by Trump’s political adversaries. The 306-page report marks the end of a four-year investigation into possible missteps by the FBI during its early “Crossfire Hurricane” inquiry into potential contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Durham found that prior to initiating Crossfire Hurricane, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies did not have any solid evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

He also claimed that the FBI handled the 2016 Trump investigation differently from other politically sensitive inquiries, such as those involving Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Durham wrote, “The Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report.”

In response to the report, the FBI stated that it has already implemented numerous corrective actions for some time. Meanwhile, Durham’s findings may serve as political ammunition for Trump, who is planning to run for re-election in 2024 despite facing criminal charges in New York and two federal investigations by Special Counsel Jack Smith.

However, Durham’s investigation has had limited impact, as both defendants he attempted to prosecute in 2022 were acquitted by separate juries.

Durham’s report echoes many concerns raised by the Justice Department’s inspector general regarding the FBI’s process for applying to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for wiretap applications.

Durham’s report states: “Senior FBI personnel displayed a serious lack of analytical rigor towards the information that they received, especially information from politically affiliated persons and entities.”

China’s Loans Crush The Poorest Countries

A dozen poor countries are facing economic instability and even collapse under the weight of hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign loans, much of them from the world’s biggest and most unforgiving government lender, China.

An Associated Press analysis of a dozen countries most indebted to China — including Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Laos and Mongolia — found paying back that debt is consuming an ever-greater amount of the tax revenue needed to keep schools open, provide electricity and pay for food and fuel. And it’s draining foreign currency reserves these countries use to pay interest on those loans, leaving some with just months before that money is gone.

Behind the scenes is China’s reluctance to forgive debt and its extreme secrecy about how much money it has loaned and on what terms, which has kept other major lenders from stepping in to help. On top of that is the recent discovery that borrowers have been required to put cash in hidden escrow accounts that push China to the front of the line of creditors to be paid.

Countries in AP’s analysis had as much as 50% of their foreign loans from China and most were devoting more than a third of government revenue to paying off foreign debt. Two of them, Zambia and Sri Lanka, have already gone into default, unable to make even interest payments on loans financing the construction of ports, mines and power plants.

In Pakistan, millions of textile workers have been laid off because the country has too much foreign debt and can’t afford to keep the electricity on and machines running.

In Kenya, the government has held back paychecks to thousands of civil service workers to save cash to pay foreign loans. The president’s chief economic adviser tweeted last month, “Salaries or default? Take your pick.”

Since Sri Lanka defaulted a year ago, a half-million industrial jobs have vanished, inflation has pierced 50% and more than half the population in many parts of the country has fallen into poverty.

Experts predict that unless China begins to soften its stance on its loans to poor countries, there could be a wave of more defaults and political upheavals.

“In a lot of the world, the clock has hit midnight,” said Harvard economist Ken Rogoff. “ China has moved in and left this geopolitical instability that could have long-lasting effects.”


A case study of how it has played out is in Zambia, a landlocked country of 20 million people in southern Africa that over the past two decades has borrowed billions of dollars from Chinese state-owned banks to build dams, railways and roads.

The loans boosted Zambia’s economy but also raised foreign interest payments so high there was little left for the government, forcing it to cut spending on healthcare, social services and subsidies to farmers for seed and fertilizer.

In the past under such circumstances, big government lenders such as the U.S., Japan and France would work out deals to forgive some debt, with each lender disclosing clearly what they were owed and on what terms so no one would feel cheated.

But China didn’t play by those rules. It refused at first to even join in multinational talks, negotiating separately with Zambia and insisting on confidentiality that barred the country from telling non-Chinese lenders the terms of the loans and whether China had devised a way of muscling to the front of the repayment line.


Amid this confusion in 2020, a group of non-Chinese lenders refused desperate pleas from Zambia to suspend interest payments, even for a few months. That refusal added to the drain on Zambia’s foreign cash reserves, the stash of mostly U.S. dollars that it used to pay interest on loans and to buy major commodities like oil. By November 2020, with little reserves left, Zambia stopped paying the interest and defaulted, locking it out of future borrowing and setting off a vicious cycle of spending cuts and deepening poverty.

Inflation in Zambia has since soared 50%, unemployment has hit a 17-year high and the nation’s currency, the kwacha, has lost 30% of its value in just seven months. A United Nations estimate of Zambians not getting enough food has nearly tripled so far this year, to 3.5 million.

“I just sit in the house thinking what I will eat because I have no money to buy food,” said Marvis Kunda, a blind 70-year-old widow in Zambia’s Luapula province whose welfare payments were recently slashed. “Sometimes I eat once a day and if no one remembers to help me with food from the neighborhood, then I just starve.”

A few months after Zambia defaulted, researchers found that it owed $6.6 billion to Chinese state-owned banks, double what many thought at the time and about a third of the country’s total debt.

“We’re flying blind,” said Brad Parks, executive director of AidData, a research lab at William & Mary that has uncovered thousands of secret Chinese loans and assisted the AP in its analysis. “When you look under the cushions of the couch, suddenly you realize, ‘Oh, there’s a lot of stuff we missed. And actually things are much worse.’”


China’s unwillingness to take big losses on the hundreds of billions of dollars it is owed, as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have urged, has left many countries on a treadmill of paying back interest, which stifles the economic growth that would help them pay off the debt.

Foreign cash reserves have dropped in 10 of the dozen countries in AP’s analysis, down an average 25% in just a year. They have plunged more than 50% in Pakistan and the Republic of Congo. Without a bailout, several countries have only months left of foreign cash to pay for food, fuel and other essential imports. Mongolia has eight months left. Pakistan and Ethiopia about two.

“As soon as the financing taps are turned off, the adjustment takes place right away,” said Patrick Curran, senior economist at researcher Tellimer. “The economy contracts, inflation spikes up, food and fuel become unaffordable.”

Mohammad Tahir, who was laid off six months ago from his job at a textile factory in the Pakistani city of Multan, says he has contemplated suicide because he can no longer bear to see his family of four go to bed night after night without dinner.

“I’ve been facing the worst kind of poverty,” said Tahir, who was recently told Pakistan’s foreign cash reserves have depleted so much that it was now unable to import raw materials for his factory. “I have no idea when we would get our jobs back.”

Poor countries have been hit with foreign currency shortages, high inflation, spikes in unemployment and widespread hunger before, but rarely like in the past year.

Along with the usual mix of government mismanagement and corruption are two unexpected and devastating events: the war in Ukraine, which has sent prices of grain and oil soaring, and the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates 10 times in a row, the latest this month. That has made variable rate loans to countries suddenly much more expensive.

All of it is roiling domestic politics and upending strategic alliances. In March, heavily indebted Honduras cited “financial pressures” in its decision to establish formal diplomatic ties to China and sever those with Taiwan.

Last month, Pakistan was so desperate to prevent more blackouts that it struck a deal to buy discounted oil from Russia, breaking ranks with the U.S.-led effort to shut off Vladimir Putin’s funds.

In Sri Lanka, rioters poured into the streets last July, setting homes of government ministers aflame and storming the presidential palace, sending the leader tied to onerous deals with China fleeing the country.


The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement to the AP, disputed the notion that China is an unforgiving lender and echoed previous statements putting the blame on the Federal Reserve. It said that if it is to accede to IMF and World Bank demands to forgive a portion of its loans, so should those multilateral lenders, which it views as U.S. proxies.

“We call on these institutions to actively participate in relevant actions in accordance with the principle of ‘joint action, fair burden’ and make greater contributions to help developing countries tide over the difficulties,” the ministry statement said.

China argues it has offered relief in the form of extended loan maturities and emergency loans, and as the biggest contributor to a program to temporarily suspend interest payments during the coronavirus pandemic. It also says it has forgiven 23 no-interest loans to African countries, though AidData’s Parks said such loans are mostly from two decades ago and amount to less than 5% of the total it has lent.

In high-level talks in Washington last month, China was considering dropping its demand that the IMF and World Bank forgive loans if the two lenders would make commitments to offer grants and other help to troubled countries, according to various news reports. But in the weeks since there has been no announcement and both lenders have expressed frustration with Beijing.

“My view is that we have to drag them — maybe that’s an impolite word — we need to walk together,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said earlier this month. “Because if we don’t, there will be catastrophe for many, many countries.”

The IMF and World Bank say taking losses on their loans would rip up the traditional playbook of dealing with sovereign crises that accords them special treatment because, unlike Chinese banks, they already finance at low rates to help distressed countries get back on their feet. The Chinese foreign ministry noted, however, that the two multilateral lenders have made an exception to the rules in the past.

As time runs out, some officials are urging concessions. Ashfaq Hassan, a former debt official at Pakistan’s Ministry of Finance, said his country’s debt burden is too heavy and time too short for the IMF and World Bank to hold out. He also called for concessions from private investment funds that lent to his country by purchasing bonds. “Every stakeholder will have to take a haircut,” Hassan said.

One good sign: The IMF on Wednesday announced approval of a $3 billion loan for Ghana, suggesting it is hopeful a debt restructuring deal can be struck among creditors.

China has also pushed back on the idea, popularized in the Trump administration, that it has engaged in “debt trap diplomacy,” leaving countries saddled with loans they cannot afford so that it can seize ports, mines and other strategic assets.

On this point, experts who have studied the issue in detail have sided with Beijing. Chinese lending has come from dozens of banks on the mainland and is far too haphazard and sloppy to be coordinated from the top. If anything, they say, Chinese banks are not taking losses because the timing is awful as they face big hits from reckless real estate lending in their own country and a dramatically slowing economy.

But the experts are quick to point out that a less sinister Chinese role is not a less scary one. “There is no single person in charge,” said Teal Emery, a former sovereign loan analyst who now runs consulting group Teal Insights. Adds AidData’s Parks about Beijing, “They’re kind of making it up as they go along. There is no master plan.”


Much of the credit for dragging China’s hidden debt into the light goes to Parks, who over the past decade has had to contend with all manner of roadblocks, obfuscations and falsehoods from the authoritarian government.

The hunt began in 2011 when a top World Bank economist asked Parks to take over the job of looking into Chinese loans. Within months, using online data-mining techniques, Parks and a few researchers began uncovering hundreds of loans the World Bank had not known about.

China at the time was ramping up lending that would soon become part of its $1 trillion “Belt and Road Initiative” to secure supplies of key minerals, win allies abroad and make more money off its U.S. dollar holdings. Many developing countries were eager for U.S. dollars to build power plants, roads and ports and expand mining operations.

But after a few years of straightforward Chinese government loans, those countries found themselves heavily indebted, and the optics were awful. They feared that piling more loans atop old ones would make them seem reckless to credit rating agencies and make it more expensive to borrow in the future.

So China started setting up shell companies for some infrastructure projects and lent to them instead, which allowed heavily indebted countries to avoid putting that new debt on their books. Even if the loans were backed by the government, no one would be the wiser.

In Zambia, for example, a $1.5 billion loan from two Chinese banks to a shell company to build a giant hydroelectric dam didn’t appear on the country’s books for years.

In Indonesia, Chinese loans of $4 billion to help build a railway also never appeared on public government accounts. That all changed years later when, overbudget by $1.5 billion, the Indonesian government was forced to bail out the railroad twice.

“When these projects go bad, what was advertised as a private debt becomes a public debt,” Parks said. “There are projects all over the globe like this.”

In 2021, a decade after Parks and his team began their hunt, they had gathered enough information for a blockbuster finding: At least $385 billion of hidden and underreported Chinese debt in 88 countries, and many of those countries were in far worse shape than anyone knew.

Among the disclosures was that China issued a $3.5 billion loan to build a railway system in Laos, which would take nearly a quarter of the country’s annual output to pay off.

Another AidData report around the same time suggested that many Chinese loans go to projects in areas of countries favored by powerful politicians and frequently right before key elections. Some of the things built made little economic sense and were riddled with problems.

In Sri Lanka, a Chinese-funded airport built in the president’s hometown away from most of the country’s population is so barely used that elephants have been spotted wandering on its tarmac.

Cracks are appearing in hydroelectric plants in Uganda and Ecuador, where in March the government got judicial approval for corruption charges tied to the project against a former president now in exile.

In Pakistan, a power plant had to be shut down for fear it could collapse. In Kenya, the last key miles of a railway were never built due to poor planning and a lack of funds.


As Parks dug into the details of the loans, he found something alarming: Clauses mandating that borrowing countries deposit U.S. dollars or other foreign currency in secret escrow accounts that Beijing could raid if those countries stopped paying interest on their loans.

In effect, China had jumped to the front of the line to get paid without other lenders knowing.

In Uganda, Parks revealed a loan to expand the main airport included an escrow account that could hold more than $15 million. A legislative probe blasted the finance minister for agreeing to such terms, with the lead investigator saying he should be prosecuted and jailed.

Parks is not sure how many such accounts have been set up, but governments insisting on any kind of collateral, much less collateral in the form of hard cash, is rare in sovereign lending. And their very existence has rattled non-Chinese banks, bond investors and other lenders and made them unwilling to accept less than they’re owed.

“The other creditors are saying, ‘We’re not going to offer anything if China is, in effect, at the head of the repayment line,’” Parks said. “It leads to paralysis. Everyone is sizing each other up and saying, ‘Am I going to be a chump here?’”


Meanwhile, Beijing has taken on a new kind of hidden lending that has added to the confusion and distrust. Parks and others found that China’s central bank has effectively been lending tens of billions of dollars through what appear as ordinary foreign currency exchanges.

Foreign currency exchanges, called swaps, allow countries to essentially borrow more widely used currencies like the U.S. dollar to plug temporary shortages in foreign reserves. They are intended for liquidity purposes, not to build things, and last for only a few months.

But China’s swaps mimic loans by lasting years and charging higher-than-normal interest rates. And importantly, they don’t show up on the books as loans that would add to a country’s debt total.

Mongolia has taken out $1.8 billion annually in such swaps for years, an amount equivalent to 14% of its annual economic output. Pakistan has taken out nearly $3.6 billion annually for years and Laos $300 million.

The swaps can help stave off default by replenishing currency reserves, but they pile more loans on top of old ones and can make a collapse much worse, akin to what happened in the runup to 2009 financial crisis when U.S. banks kept offering ever-bigger mortgages to homeowners who couldn’t afford the first one.

Some poor countries struggling to repay China now find themselves stuck in a kind of loan limbo: China won’t budge in taking losses, and the IMF won’t offer low-interest loans if the money is just going to pay interest on Chinese debt.

For Chad and Ethiopia, it’s been more than a year since IMF rescue packages were approved in so-called staff-level agreements, but nearly all the money has been withheld as negotiations among its creditors drag on.

“You’ve got a growing number of countries that are in dire financial straits,” said Parks, attributing it largely to China’s stunning rise in just a generation from being a net recipient of foreign aid to the world’s largest creditor.

“Somehow they’ve managed to do all of this out of public view,” he said. “So unless people understand how China lends, how its lending practices work, we’re never going to solve these crises.”

Dr. Sampat Shivangi Honored With Lifetime Achievement Award By Xavier University In Aruba

Dr. Sampat Shivangi, a physician, an influential Indian American community leader, and a veteran leader of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award by the Xavier University School of Medicine on Friday, May 19th, 2023 at the Xavier’s Campus in Aruba. Dr. Shivangi was conferred with the  Life Time Achievement Award by the Honorale Minister of Aruba, Mr. Croes along with the President of Xavier University of School of Medicine Mr. Ravi Bhopalapu.

The award ceremony was part of the Global Leadership Summit organized by the University, which brought together world leaders in the Global Health Care community, who shared their insightful thoughts and expertise on various topics related to healthcare. The summit featured speakers from diverse backgrounds with areas of expertise, including healthcare policy, healthcare technology delivery, and healthcare education.

The summit was aimed at providing education not only to Xavier University School of Medicine students and faculty but also to healthcare professionals and educators, who are passionate about making a positive impact on the healthcare industry and improving patient outcomes worldwide.

“We are excited to bring together stingrays naked ladies from around the world did experiences and insights,” said Dr. Ravi Bhoopalpur, President of Xavier University School of Medicine. “The goal is to create a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices that will help shape the future of healthcare and improve the lives of people around the world.”

In his response to being chosen for the award, Dr. Shivangi said, “I am truly honored to receive this prestigious Xavier University of Aruba award, which has made a worldwide impression as a premier Institute of learning. It’s even a greater honor to be in such distinguished ranks of those present and past honorees, who have made important contributions to healthcare.”

Describing the honor as “a significant milestone in my life and a moment to cherish,” Dr. Shivangi said, “Health care across the world is regarded as an important determinant in promoting the general, physical, mental, and social well-being of people around the world and can contribute to a significant part of a country’s economy, development, and industrialization when efficiently improving human health and providing access to affordable high-quality health care.”

Addressing the epidemic of mental health, Dr. Shivangi, a champion of women’s health and mental health, and whose work has been recognized nationwide, said, “Mental health illness continues to impact more people each year and is now a global disease.” Quoting the World Health Organization, Dr. Shivangi, said, “WHO estimates 1 in every 8 individuals worldwide suffer from a mental disorder, impairment in childhood, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, & psychosis in maturity and ending with dementia in old age. 5.6 crore Indians suffer from depression, while 3.8 crore suffers from anxiety disorders.”

Focusing on Mental Health, Dr. Shivangi said, “Mental Health literacy is the gateway for mental health intervention. However, there is a lack of awareness, which can lead to overlooking, misjudging or dismissing the signs that someone needs help. Dr. Sivangi, an obstetrician/gynecologist, the first Indian to be on the American Medical Association, the apex law-making body, pointed out that substance abuse in the United States causes over 10,000 youth to die annually.

Quoting studies that point to the fact that Mental Health has emerged as an “ever-challenging task,” Dr. Shivangi said, nearly 1 in 5 Americans has some type of Mental illness. During the Covid pandemic period, 78% of adults were experiencing a mental illness, an equivalent of over 50 million Americans, with millions of adults in the USA experiencing serious thoughts of suicide, with the highest rate amongst multi-racial individuals.

Responding to realities, the US Government has initiated several measures to help people struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse. In this context, he referred to two recent initiatives by the US Government to address the twin issues of mental health and substance abuse:

The exclusive 988 National Emergency Phone Number for the mentally ill has revolutionized the mental system that has saved thousands of lives and reduced by a third of hospital visits. In addition, making the antidote, Naloxone free of cost and available over the counter has helped save so many lives.

Dr. Shivangi said, one can get instant help by calling #911 in crisis; they can call or Text #988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, a new Nationwide service, attended by trained staff, and trained crisis counselors who can counsel, guide and get them admitted into nearby crisis center, community mental health center or hospital immediately that includes ambulance service. “This has caught nationwide attention. I would strongly recommend that Aruba should think along these lines.”

The SAMHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is another major initiative of the US government. Dr. Shivangi serves on the Board of SAMHSA, a prestigious position, appointed by the President of the United States. I was first appointed by President Trump & now by the current President Joe Biden.”

Recalling his recent visit to Poland, where Dr. Shivangi shared about the huge impact through these initiatives, Dr. Shivangi said, the government of Poland was impressed and wanted to use them in their country as a way to save lives. Dr. Shivangi offered similar programs and services made available to the people of Aruba and was open to helping the Government of Aruba make them part of the healthcare delivery in the island nation.

A conservative lifelong member of the Republican Party, Dr. Shivangi is the founding member of the Republican Indian Council and the Republican Indian National Council. Dr. Shivangi is the National President of Indian American Forum for Political Education, one of the oldest Indian American Associations. Over the past three decades, he has lobbied for several Bills in the US Congress on behalf of India through his enormous contacts with US Senators and Congressmen.

A close friend to the Bush family, he was instrumental in lobbying for the first Diwali celebration in the White House and for President George W. Bush to make his trip to India. He had accompanied President Bill Clinton during his historic visit to India. Dr. Shivangi is Dr. Shivangi has worked enthusiastically in promoting India Civil Nuclear Treaty and recently the US India Defense Treaty that was passed in US Congress and signed by President Obama.

Dr. Shivangi has actively involved in several philanthropic activities, serving with Blind foundation of MS, Diabetic, Cancer and Heart Associations of America. Dr. Shivangi has number of philanthropic work in India including Primary & middle schools, Cultural Center, IMA Centers that he opened and helped to obtains the first ever US Congressional grant to AAPI to study Diabetes Mellitus amongst Indian Americans.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi was awarded the highest civilian honor, the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas Sanman award in 2016 in Bengaluru by the Hon. President of India, Shri Pranap Mukhejee. He was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New York in 2008. He is married to Dr. Udaya S. Shivangi, MD, and the couple are blessed with two daughters: Priya S. Shivangi, MS (NYU); Pooja S. Shivangi who is an Attorney at Law.

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis Officially Launches Presidential Run In 2024

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis formally announced on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 that he is running for president in 2024. “Well, I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback,” he said during an event with Twitter owner Elon Musk on the site’s audio platform. “But we know our country’s going in the wrong direction. We see it with our own eyes. And we feel it in our bones.”

“We must end the culture of losing that has infected the Republican Party in recent years,” DeSantis said on Twitter, in a chat withElon Musk and their mutual ally, David Sacks, a venture capitalist. “The tired dogmas of the past are inadequate for a vibrant future.”

Earlier Wednesday, ahead of the event with Musk, DeSantis also filed with the Federal Election Commission. It makes official a decision that was widely expected since November when DeSantis won reelection in resounding fashion and captured the attention of a party longing to turn the page from recent defeats. He steps into the race for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination later than other contenders and having failed to freeze more still from jumping in, but is better funded, better known and polling higher than all but one: Donald Trump.

The former president has treated DeSantis, whom he once endorsed for Florida governor, as his top foe for months, assailing him regularly on social media and in interviews. A super PAC aligned with Trump has spent millions attacking DeSantis on national television, setting expectations for a bruising primary between the two former allies.

To overcome Trump, DeSantis will need to convince Republican voters he is best positioned to take on President Joe Biden next November. That will likely involve winning over conservatives who may still look back fondly on Trump’s presidency while also coalescing support among Republicans eager for new blood to lead the party.

DeSantis, 44, has spent months laying the groundwork to make that case. He has traveled the country extensively, styling himself as a leader in the right’s culture wars and presenting a new vision for a Republican Party that uses elected powers to punish political opponents and force conservative orthodoxy on institutions and businesses. Working with his state’s GOP-controlled legislature, DeSantis has stacked up multiple policy victories – including banning abortion after six weeks, eliminating permits to carry a concealed gun in public, enacting a universal school voucher law and targeting access to transgender health care – all of which will serve as a platform as he launches his campaign.

“I think that (DeSantis) and former President Donald Trump, they have a lot in common, which they don’t want to hear, but I think it’s the truth,” Wisconsin voter Steve Frazier said after DeSantis spoke at a recent GOP dinner in Marathon County. “Unfortunately, they’re running possibly for the same office, and that’s a conflict for people like myself, in that we may have two very, very qualified men running for the same position.”

DeSantis has continued to generate headlines for his yearlong fight with Disney, his state’s most iconic business and a vital economic engine, over a new law that bans certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. After Disney put out a statement opposing the measure, DeSantis plotted a takeover of the special taxing district that allowed the entertainment giant to build its iconic theme park empire in Central Florida.

The move put Florida businesses on notice and alarmed even some in the GOP, who questioned whether elected executives should use state power to punish a company. Undeterred, DeSantis has made his clash with Disney a central part of his political story, devoting an entire chapter of his recent memoir to the saga. Disney has sued DeSantis, accusing the governor of weaponizing his political power to punish the company for exercising its free speech rights, while DeSantis has vowed not to cave.

Though eager to take on private businesses, reporters and sometimes his own party, DeSantis has largely avoided directly confronting Trump. Instead, he has opted for more subtle comparisons between their tenures in office. He has maligned the lack of action during Trump’s first four years while listing off his own accomplishments as governor. He regularly touts the lack of “drama” and “leaks” in his administration, a clear jab at the chaos that often engulfed the Trump White House.

“If I were to run, I’m running against Biden,” DeSantis said in a recent interview with British television host Piers Morgan.

That same day, though, DeSantis seemed to poke fun at Trump over his alleged affair with an adult film star that is at the heart of a Manhattan district attorney’s case against the former president.

“I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star,” he said at a news conference. To many, DeSantis had signaled he was ready to mix it up with Trump. But a week later, as Trump was indicted, DeSantis backed off and instead criticized the prosecutor who filed the charges.

The walk back was illustrative of Republican struggles to challenge Trump head-on that date back to the 2016 presidential primary. The former president’s GOP rivals have often opted instead to target the contender perceived as the biggest threat to overcoming Trump: DeSantis. Already, 2024 hopefuls such as former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy have lobbed attacks at the Florida governor with more frequency than they have criticized Trump.

“The subject of most of the attacks at the first debate are going to be DeSantis, not Trump,” said Alex Conant, a veteran of several presidential campaigns. Conant is familiar with what it is like to be running behind Trump. He advised Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign in 2016 and watched as the Florida Republican faced arrows from the rest of the GOP field in a debate leading up to the New Hampshire primary. Rubio never recovered. DeSantis’ team, Conant said, needs “to be eyes-wide-open that he’s going to be targeted at every moment of the first debate.”

DeSantis will have more resources than most to weather those attacks. A super PAC supporting his political ambitions, Never Back Down, had already raised $30 million in its first month after launching and has spent millions boosting DeSantis and responding to negative ads from Trump allies in early primary states. He has more than $85 million parked in a state political committee that his team has for more than a year planned to shift into a federal committee – possibly Never Back Down – though some campaign finance watchdogs have suggested that plan would run afoul of the law.

DeSantis, for a time, was also a favorite among the deep-pocketed Republican donors who have soured on Trump and are ready to finance an alternative. However, that support has somewhat cooled of late, with several key financiers expressing reservations about DeSantis. His hard turn right, his antagonistic feud with Disney and perceived personality faults have caused some to look for others to get behind.

Thomas Peterffy, a billionaire businessman who has donated $570,000 to DeSantis’ political committee over the years, recently told the Financial Times that he and other GOP donors were turned off by DeSantis’ stance on “abortion and book banning” and were “holding our powder dry.” DeSantis has championed a new state law that requires approval of books in classroom libraries and makes it easier for the public to flag schoolbooks to be pulled for review.

However, without another major Trump alternative emerging, DeSantis allies remain convinced that Republican donors ready to move on from the former president will ultimately get behind the Florida governor.

“There’s a broad acceptance that this is really settling into a two-person race, and there is a lot of personal appreciation for President Trump but realistic understanding he does not have the best chance to beat Biden,” former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, founder of the Never Back Down super PAC, told CNN in March. “He does not have the best chance to win the Senate and keep the House as demonstrated by history.”

The Deadline Looms For Debt Ceiling

The US federal government is on the brink of being unable to make debt payments, and it’s up to Congress to vote on raising the nation’s borrowing cap, also known as the debt limit. However, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Biden are currently at odds over Republican demands to link the debt limit to spending caps and other policy requirements. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has cautioned that the country could exhaust its borrowing authority by June 1, leaving little time for negotiators to reach a consensus.

In a recent meeting with McCarthy, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Biden aimed to find a way forward. Although they didn’t reach an agreement, staff-level discussions continue in an attempt to avert default.

Debt ceiling

You might have some questions about the debt ceiling and the ongoing debate. The debt ceiling, or debt limit, is a restriction on the amount of debt the federal government can accumulate. As Jason Furman, a former economic advisor to President Obama and current economics professor at Harvard, explains, “It used to be that every time you did a Treasury auction where you borrowed, Congress would pass a new law just for that one auction.” However, in 1917, during World War I, Congress opted for a more streamlined approach, allowing the government to borrow up to a specified amount before needing to request an increase. Since 1960, Congress has raised or suspended the debt limit 78 times, according to the Treasury Department.

How do experts know when the government has really run out of funds?

Picture : NBC

Experts determine when the government is nearing its funding limit by examining expected tax revenue, the timing of those payments arriving in Treasury accounts, and scheduled debt payments. This analysis helps establish a timeframe, referred to as an X-Date, when the debt authority might be depleted.

Nonetheless, the Treasury Department has several options, known as extraordinary measures, to prevent default. These measures involve reallocating investments and using accounting techniques to redistribute funds. The federal government technically reached the debt limit in January, but these extraordinary measures have maintained payment flows since then. While experts cannot pinpoint an exact date for when funds will be exhausted, they can estimate a general range, which currently falls between early June and potentially as late as July or August.

Why is there a fight over it?

Debt has generally been viewed unfavorably in American politics, and lawmakers often hesitate to be seen as endorsing more federal borrowing or spending. Additionally, they tend to attach unrelated priorities to must-pass legislation, making the debt limit a prime target for political disputes.

As Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, explains, “Everybody uses [bills to increase] the debt ceiling for their favorite policies.” The real issue arises when discussions about defaulting become more serious. Historically, votes to raise the debt limit were relatively uneventful; however, the situation changed in 2011 when the US came dangerously close to default.

Mark Zandi, an analyst at Moody’s Analytics, notes that while there have been previous political battles over the debt, none were as risky or significant as the 2011 conflict. At that time, Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama were in a standoff over spending. Republicans demanded deep spending cuts and caps on future spending growth, while Obama insisted on raising the debt limit without any extraneous policies – a clean increase.

Ultimately, Congress reached an agreement to increase the debt limit along with caps on future spending, but not before Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation’s debt for the first time in history. Today’s situation bears a striking resemblance to the 2011 political struggle, raising serious concerns about the possibility of a default.

What could happen if it’s not raised?

If the debt ceiling is not raised, the Treasury Department would be unable to fulfill its due payments, resulting in a default. This would occur regardless of the type or size of the missed payment.

Some Republicans have proposed a system called payment prioritization, in which certain debts are selected for repayment. However, this would require Congress to pass new legislation, which is politically improbable. Moreover, most experts believe that implementing such a system could be practically unfeasible, and it is not currently being considered as a serious solution.

Has the U.S. ever failed to make these debt payments?

No, the U.S. has never failed to make its debt payments. This reliability is a significant reason why the federal government can easily sell Treasury bonds to investors worldwide and why the U.S. dollar is one of the most trusted currencies.

As MacGuineas points out, “Treasuries are the debt vehicle that are most trusted in the entire world, even if there is an economic crisis that originated in the U.S., people come and buy treasuries because they trust them.” If that trust is jeopardized due to a default or missed interest payment, the U.S. would likely struggle to regain its previous status as the world’s most trusted debtor.

Would capping or cutting spending now resolve the problem?

No, capping or cutting spending now would not resolve the problem, as the debt limit pertains to money already spent due to laws previously passed by Congress. Furman emphasizes that “this borrowing isn’t some unilateral thing that President Biden wants to do… It is in order to accomplish what Congress told him to accomplish.”

Some of the current debt accumulation even results from laws enacted under former presidents, such as Donald Trump. Spending caps and other changes proposed by House Republicans are separate policies designed to address future debt accumulation rather than the immediate need to raise the debt limit.

What else could be affected by a default?

The possibility of a U.S. default may result in a domino effect of negative outcomes across the worldwide financial landscape. The nation’s credit rating could suffer long-term damage, diminishing the value of U.S. treasuries and making it a less attractive investment destination. MacGuineas expressed deep concern, stating, “I am truly concerned there is an actual chance of default and that is so dangerous and such a sign that the U.S. is not able to govern itself in a way that is functioning.”

Zandi cautioned that the fallout might extend beyond merely investment and borrowing rates. He advised, “Don’t worry about your stock portfolio, worry about your job,” emphasizing the potential loss of employment and increased unemployment rates. He added, “This will certainly push us and, you know, it’s going to be about layoffs. Stock portfolios will be the least of people’s worries.”

Furman compared the potential crisis to the 2008 financial meltdown caused by Lehman Brothers Bank’s collapse, suggesting it could be even more severe. “It could be worse than Lehman Brothers, where everyone basically demands their money back because they don’t believe the collateral anymore,” he explained. “And you have the equivalent of a run on the global financial system.”

Is default the same thing as a shutdown?

Default and shutdown are not the same thing. A government shutdown transpires when Congress does not pass annual spending bills before the fiscal year concludes on September 30. Although these two matters may be connected at times, this is because legislators have, on occasion, deliberately synchronized the debt limit extension with the end of the fiscal year to prompt more comprehensive spending debates in conjunction with debt authorization.

Are there other ways this problem could be fixed, aside from just increasing the debt limit?

Apart from merely raising the debt limit, there are alternative solutions to address the issue, as the existing process is widely considered ineffective. MacGuineas from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget believes that while Congress should reassess debt and spending priorities, the current debt limit mechanism fails to compel them to make decisions. She stated, “The debt ceiling is a terrible way to try to impose fiscal responsibility,” describing it as a “dumb approach.”

Instead, MacGuineas proposes a system where the debt limit is increased in line with the passage of legislation by Congress. Some economists have even suggested eliminating the debt limit entirely.

Other less conventional ideas involve minting a $1 trillion platinum coin to cover the debt or elevating the limit to such an extent that subsequent debates would be postponed for years or even decades.

A Biden-Trump Faceoff In 2024 Wouldn’t Be The First Presidential Rematch

While it’s still very early, there’s at least a chance that the 2024 presidential election could look a lot like the 2020 presidential election. President Joe Biden recently confirmed that he’s seeking a second term, and his predecessor and 2020 opponent, former President Donald Trump, already had launched his campaign to reclaim the White House.

For several decades now, neither major political party has been keen on giving unsuccessful nominees a second bite of the apple. The last time that happened was in 1968, when Republicans chose Richard Nixon, who had lost to John F. Kennedy in 1960.

But that hasn’t always been the case. Should a Biden-Trump sequel come about, it would be the seventh presidential rematch in U.S. history, and the first since the 1950s. In the first four rematches, the outcome was different the second time around; in the most recent two, the outcomes were the same as the first match-up.

Here’s a look at the presidential rematches the country has experienced so far, and the varying political contexts in which they came about:

The country’s first actively contested presidential elections proved conclusively that the Constitution’s elaborate mechanism for electing presidents wouldn’t work once parties were added to the mix.

Originally, each presidential elector cast two ballots, with the candidate receiving the most becoming president and the runner-up becoming vice president. This worked fine the first two elections, when George Washington and John Adams were the clear favorites. But in 1796, when the Federalist Party backed Adams for the presidency and the Democratic-Republican Party supported Thomas Jefferson, the system’s flaws quickly became apparent.

In order to elect their preferred pair as president and vice president, both parties tried to arrange for a few of their electors to either cast only one ballot or vote for someone other than their party’s intended running mate (Thomas Pinckney for the Federalists, Aaron Burr for the Democratic-Republicans). In theory, that would ensure that the intended two men came out on top and in the right order. In practice, in an era of slow communications over great distances, such plans would have been difficult to pull off even if the parties were united and firmly disciplined.

Which they weren’t. Neither the Federalists nor the Democratic-Republicans were fully sold on their respective tickets. (Alexander Hamilton, for one, worked secretly to get some Federalist electors from Southern states to withhold their votes for Adams, in hopes of boosting Pinckney into the top spot – a ploy which backfired when New England Federalists found out about it and refused to cast ballots for Pinckney.) And the electors were free to disregard their party’s “official” picks and cast their two votes however they wished, so long as one went to someone from a state other than their own.

The end result was, as historian Gordon Wood called it, “a confused and chaotic affair.” Although records are incomplete, at least nine electors voted for Jefferson and Pinckney. One voted for Adams and Jefferson. Two cast votes for Washington, who had made it clear he didn’t want the job any longer. In all, 13 men received at least one electoral vote. Adams squeaked out a win, but Jefferson came in second and took the vice presidency.

Adams and Jefferson faced each other again in 1800, and the results were almost as chaotic. This time Jefferson and Burr defeated Adams’ ticket, but because all their electors voted for both of them (rather than a few abstaining or voting for someone else), they tied for first place. That meant the outgoing House of Representatives – still controlled by Federalists, whose candidates had lost the election – got to decide whether Jefferson or Burr would be the next president. The House deadlocked for a week and slogged through 35 ballots before finally choosing Jefferson on the 36th. Before the next election, the 12th Amendment was ratified to require separate balloting for president and vice president – and, it was hoped, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

John Quincy Adams vs. Andrew Jackson, 1824 and 1828

But the new system wasn’t foolproof either, as the four-sided election of 1824 demonstrated. By that time the Democratic-Republicans, who’d won every election since 1800 and driven the Federalists into near-oblivion, had splintered into rival factions. No fewer than five prominent public figures sought the presidency in 1824: Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, former Gen. Andrew Jackson, House Speaker Henry Clay, Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun (though he eventually decided to stand for vice president instead). When the dust settled, no one had come close to winning a majority of either the popular or electoral votes.

That sent the election to the House again, which had to choose from among the top three vote-getters. Clay, who had been eliminated, used his influence to swing the vote in Adams’ favor; soon after, Adams appointed Clay as secretary of state. That in turn touched off furious charges by Jackson and his supporters that the two men had conspired in a “corrupt bargain” and effectively launched Jackson’s 1828 campaign.

Jacksonians spent four years attacking Adams and building a new party, the Democrats, to take him on. In 1828, Jackson won clear popular- and electoral-vote victories, and he went on to serve two terms as president.

Van Buren, Jackson’s vice president and one of the main architects of the Democratic Party, ran for the top job himself in 1836. But opponents of the Jackson-Van Buren administration were coming together into a new national party: the Whig Party.

The Whigs were still a work in progress in 1836, and Van Buren ended up facing multiple “opposition” candidates who ran in different states. The most successful, retired Gen. William Henry Harrison, carried seven states and won 37% of the popular vote. Although Van Buren won the presidency, Harrison’s performance brought him renewed prominence.

By 1839, the Whigs were organized enough to hold a national convention, which nominated Harrison for the following year’s election. Van Buren’s popularity, meanwhile, had plunged due to the Panic of 1837 and the perception that he was an effete, out-of-touch aristocrat. After a campaign marked by such innovations as sloganeering, mass rallies, image-creation and what today we would call PR stunts, Harrison won the popular vote by 6 percentage points and beat Van Buren decisively in the Electoral College.

Grover Cleveland vs. Benjamin Harrison, 1888 and 1892

In 1884, Democrat Cleveland had broken the Republicans’ 24-year lock on the presidency and was widely praised as honest, thrifty and hardworking. But he was vulnerable, having alienated many important industries by advocating for lower tariffs. Republicans, who favored high “protective” tariffs, nominated Harrison, who had an impressive pedigree (as William Henry Harrison’s grandson), a Civil War record that made him popular with veterans (Cleveland had hired a substitute to serve in his place), and was from the swing state of Indiana. Even though Cleveland outpolled him in the popular vote, Harrison prevailed in the Electoral College.

As Cleveland left the White House, his wife reportedly told the staff to “take good care of all the furniture and ornaments in the house … for I want to find everything just as it is now when we come back again four years from today.” Although Cleveland stayed out of politics at first, by 1891 he was openly criticizing the Harrison administration and the Republican-controlled Congress for raising tariff rates and increasing the money supply by coining more silver dollars. The following year, Cleveland easily won renomination, defeated Harrison and, as Mrs. Cleveland had predicted, returned to the White House.

William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan, 1896 and 1900

Shortly after Cleveland’s reelection, the U.S. economy plunged into a deep depression. That, along with labor unrest and continuing agitation over monetary policy, turned Cleveland’s own party against him. In 1896, the Democrats turned to Bryan, a forceful opponent of the gold standard and advocate of the “free and unlimited coinage of silver,” which he claimed would aid debt-ridden farmers and working people by inflating the money supply.

The Republicans nominated Ohio Gov. William McKinley, a business-oriented conservative who favored high tariffs and the gold standard, which he called “sound money.” McKinley’s campaign raised unprecedented sums from big corporations and used it to forge a coalition of industrial workers and urban dwellers (especially immigrants) in the Northeast and Midwest.

Despite traveling thousands of miles and giving hundreds of speeches, Bryan came up short in both the popular and electoral votes. But he came close enough that he had no real opposition for the Democratic nomination in 1900, when he faced McKinley again.

By then the free-silver issue had receded somewhat, while questions of American imperialism (exemplified by the Spanish-American War and the annexation of Hawaii) came more to the fore. But with the war over and the U.S. economy booming, McKinley won a slightly higher share of the popular vote than he had in 1896, and flipped six states that Bryan had carried four years earlier (while Bryan flipped only one).

Eisenhower, who had led the Allied armies to victory in Europe during World War II, was so popular that both major parties spawned “Draft Eisenhower” movements. Eisenhower eventually declared himself a Republican and won a closely contested battle for the GOP nomination. The Democrats, who had no obvious front-runner after then-President Harry Truman took himself out of the race, eventually nominated Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson.

Eisenhower, though a political newcomer, proved to be a formidable campaigner, attacking the Democrats over “Korea, Communism and corruption.” He ended up taking 55% of the popular vote in 1952, winning all but nine states.

Four years later, with the Korean War over and the U.S. economy booming, Eisenhower faced no opposition within his party for another term. Stevenson, however, had to fend off several challengers before securing his renomination. For all that, Stevenson had even less success against Eisenhower his second time around: The incumbent president rolled to victory with 57% of the popular vote and the electoral votes of all but seven states.

Supreme Court Sides with Google in Terrorism-Related Lawsuits, Raises Questions on Section 230 Immunity

The US Supreme Court has ruled that social media companies cannot be sued by victims of terrorist attacks for the content posted by users on their platforms, stating that a law, known as Section 230, provides the companies with immunity. The case involved victims of the 2015 coordinated terror attacks in Paris and the 2016 Istanbul nightclub bombing, where relatives of the victims had sought damages from Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said the families’ “claims fall far short of plausibly alleging that defendants aided and abetted the Reina attack.”

A federal law allowed Americans who were injured in foreign terrorist attacks to file lawsuits seeking damages from organizations that supported the perpetrators. However, the social media companies enjoyed protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally exempts platforms from being sued over user-generated content.

The families of the victims had argued that YouTube channels used by the attackers in the Paris and Istanbul attacks would not have been so popular and influential without Google and Facebook’s algorithms promoting the content and driving users to it. They claimed that the companies assisted in the growth of the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for both attacks.

According to Reuters, more than 30 lawsuits have been filed against social media companies since 2016 over their alleged inability to stop radical organizations spreading their message and avoiding scrutiny, particularly since most of the platforms do not proactively monitor the content posted on their services.

“Questions about the scope of platforms’ immunity under Section 230 are consequential and will certainly come up soon in other cases,” Anna Diakun, staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said following the ruling.

The family members were keen for social media companies to step up their monitoring of extremist content to prevent similar attacks from occurring. Responding to the court ruling, they vowed to continue to fight. A lawyer for the family of Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in Paris, said in an email, “We lawyers see this decision as just another hurdle we need to navigate. It took decades to topple Big Tobacco, we’ll eventually rein in reckless and greed driven Big Tech as well.”

Following the decision, Google’s General Counsel Halimah DeLaine Prado stated that the company will “continue our work to safeguard free expression online, combat harmful content, and support businesses and creators who benefit from the internet.” However, critics of this decision had hoped that social media companies would have been held more liable for their role in facilitating the spread of extremist ideologies on their platforms.

Last year, a US appeals court had supported the social media giants, citing the communication act of 1934, which, in some cases, interprets them as intermediaries rather than “publishers” of user-generated content. Tech firms, including Reddit, Microsoft, and Facebook warned of the consequences if the Supreme Court overturned Section 230. Kent Walker, Google’s top lawyer, claimed that “If we undo Section 230, that would break a lot of the internet tools.” Critics also raised the question of how citizen journalists and whistleblowers whose posts revealed corporate or government crimes would be protected if tech giants were unable to gain immunity under the legislation.

Proponents of holding social media giants responsible have pointed to the recent example of Twitter banning the account of former US President Donald Trump after he posted material that was deemed to be incitement to riot. Many have argued that it has taken far too long for social media companies to have taken any meaningful action to police their platforms, and more needs to be done. The ruling is a sign that the US government is unlikely to rapidly change the position that social platforms are rightly protected under the First Amendment.

US Silence About Modi Regime’s Persecution Of Minorities Condemned

On Capitol Hill this Tuesday, US officials convened for a congressional briefing to discuss the persecution of religious minorities under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration. The conversation also touched on the State Department’s decision not to follow the United States Commission on International Freedom’s (USCIRF) recommendation that India be labeled a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) – the highest warning issued against nations guilty of persecuting religious minorities.

Picture : Financial Times

The briefing, co-organized by various religious, interfaith, and human rights organizations including the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Hindus For Human Rights (HFHR), Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), and others, featured talks from former USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza, Indian human rights activist Dr. Sandeep Pandey, Former U.S. Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, and Reverend Bryan Nerren, an American Christian pastor who was imprisoned in India for seven months. Representatives from IAMC, HFHR, and SALDEF also addressed the gathering.

In her concluding remarks, Nadine Maenza directly linked recent episodes of religious violence to the discourse, policies, and climate of complicity fostered by PM Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“An entire Indian state is burning,” Maenza said, alluding to the recent violent confrontations between Hindus and Christians in Manipur, India, which led to numerous churches being set ablaze. “Due to the growing influence of the BJP’s Hindu supremacist rhetoric, Manipur’s Hindu population has turned against the already vulnerable Christian tribal population. It is quite literally the BJP’s fault that 60 people are now dead, 200 are wounded, and 35,000 are displaced.”

Maenza strongly rebuked US officials who have praised the Modi government, specifically mentioning Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu for their commendation of Modi’s “visionary” leadership and assertion that India’s “free press really works,” respectively.

Citing Raimondo and Lu’s comments, Maenza questioned, “Modi is no visionary, and under his control, freedoms for the Indian people have plummeted. How does this charade benefit anyone? Do we want to see the eruption of yet another refugee crisis? Are we alright with India compromising the entire region’s stability by allowing such widespread internal violence?” Maenza highlighted India’s significant drop in ranking on Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index.

Dr. Sandeep Pandey, a Ramon Magsaysay award recipient, often referred to as Asia’s Nobel Prize, presented a comprehensive overview of the economic, political, civil rights, and democratic setbacks brought about by the Modi administration.

Contradicting the positive Western perspective on India’s economic growth, Pandey stated, “The Indian economy is in shambles. India’s 1% population owns 40.5% of wealth. Whereas only 3% of wealth trickled down to the bottom 50% of the population over the nine-year period from 2012 to 2021.” He explained how Modi’s crony capitalist policies have facilitated the disproportionate accumulation of wealth by Gautam Adani, the infamous industrialist and financial criminal.

Regarding criminal justice, Pandey illustrated the religious bias that has nearly obliterated the Indian judiciary. “Your religion decides how the state will deal with you. If you are a Hindu, and especially if you are aligned with the ruling party, then irrespective of how egregious the crime is, you will be released. If you are a Muslim, you will be convicted even if you are innocent. A death sentence is what they want,” he said.

Pandey highlighted the release of 11 Hindu supremacist men who had raped Bilkis Bano during the Gujarat Pogrom and the subsequent acquittal of convicted mass murderer and Hindu supremacist Babu Bajrangi. In contrast, he emphasized the prison sentences handed to Muslim activists who opposed the violently discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act.

Reverend Bryan Nerren, an American Christian who operated a charity that helped poor children of all faiths in India for nearly two decades, was imprisoned in India after being targeted by police. He described in harrowing detail his experience being imprisoned and the reasons behind it. “Most of you probably never had the opportunity to visit an Indian prison, much less be an Indian prisoner. But I have, and it was because I answered three questions wrong. I’m a Christian. I’ll meet with Christians, and I’ll help Christians,” Nerren said.

Despite never having converted any Indian or Nepalese people, Nerren was given a seven-year prison sentence. A BJP official informed Nerren that he was being arrested for his faith, at the order of higher-ups within the party, and that he was being made into an example to other Christians and religious minorities. “We’re going to see to it that you spend the next seven years in prison for what you’re doing. We are going to stop Western people, especially you Christians, from coming here and lying to the poor children that they can have hope. I hope you die in prison. Here’s what you need to understand about the India of today. In the short future, every person in this country will be Hindu. They will leave the country, or we’re going to eliminate them. And I think you understand what eliminate means,” the BJP official said.

The Trump administration initially refused to negotiate for Nerren’s release, seemingly prioritizing a weapons deal with India over the rights of an American citizen. This highlights how shortsighted economic concerns continue to triumph over the pursuit of long-term stability and the commitment to upholding human rights in U.S. relations with India. “The Biden administration’s refusal to hold the Modi government accountable boils down to the market potential that India presents. The administration is sacrificing human rights at the altar of a more profitable relationship with India,” said HFHR Policy Director Ria Chakrabartty. Chakrabartty outlined various concrete policies Congress members can pursue to pressure the Executive to change its stance toward India, including making military aid to India conditional on improving its human rights policies, aggressive letter-writing campaigns, and interventions in the budgetary process.

Former U.S. Ambassador Islam Siddiqui suggested that the US can easily maintain its trade relations with India while publicly condemning its human rights record. He pointed out how the US continues to maintain economic ties with Saudi Arabia while also speaking out against it in public and designating it a Country of Particular Concern. However, Siddiqui cautioned against putting too much faith in Modi’s leadership capabilities, saying, “It’s a bad bet to bet on Modi as a reliable partner. India can’t rise if all its minorities — 350,000,000 Christians and Hindu, Delhi and Adivasis — are put down. They all must rise.”

SALDEF Policy Manager Jyot Singh highlighted how the Modi regime’s policies have profoundly affected Sikh Americans. Referring to the Modi government’s decision to cut off internet access in Punjab in their attempt to capture one political dissident, Singh said, “Modi’s government cut off the internet for 27 million people. Without homelines, they were cut off from the world and their families in the US. They could not communicate with their loved ones. None of this is acceptable in a country that enjoys an allyship with the global north and calls itself a democracy.”

IAMC Executive Director Rasheed Ahmed connected violence in India to Hindu supremacist group activities within the U.S. “Elected officials here on Capitol Hill have received funding from donors connected with India’s most notorious Hindu supremacist paramilitary group, the RSS, and their goal is to ensure that the United States looks away from the atrocities committed by the Modi regime,”

Trump Leads Hypothetical 2024 Election Rematch against Biden, Poll Shows

Former President Donald Trump is leading over President Joe Biden by three points in a hypothetical 2024 rematch, according to a recent poll released by Emerson College. Forty-four percent of the respondents said they would support Trump in the 2024 presidential election, compared to the 41 percent who said they would back Biden. Meanwhile, 10 percent of those surveyed stated they would support someone else, while 4 percent remained undecided. This is a reversal from Emerson’s previous national poll in November, which showed Biden with a 4-point lead over Trump, 45 percent to 41 percent.

Despite falling behind Trump in a hypothetical match-up, Biden’s approval rating increased by 5 points in Tuesday’s poll, increasing from 39 percent in November to 44 percent in January. A rematch between the two 2020 opponents seems possible, as the majority of both Democrats and Republicans said in the Emerson poll that they would support Biden and Trump as their respective party nominees.

According to the poll, 58 percent of Democratic primary or caucus voters stated that they believe Biden should be the Democratic nominee, while 55 percent of Republicans think Trump should be their nominee. Trump holds a significant 26-point lead over his closest potential primary competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. However, DeSantis has slightly gained on Trump since Emerson’s November poll, increasing his support by 4 percentage points.

Trump is the only candidate to have officially launched a 2024 bid so far, after announcing his campaign just one week after the midterm elections in November. Biden is reportedly preparing to launch his reelection campaign in the coming weeks, as multiple sources have told The Hill earlier this month.

The Emerson College poll was conducted from January 19 to 21, among 1,015 registered voters, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Trump Found Liable For Defamation In Civil Lawsuit Over Sexual Abuse Allegations

Former President Donald Trump has been found liable for sexual abuse in a civil lawsuit on Tuesday. The case involved allegations that he raped a magazine columnist in a department-store dressing room nearly 30 years ago. The panel rejected the more serious allegation of rape but found him liable for defaming the victim and awarded her $5 million in damages. E. Jean Carroll, now 79, testified that Trump assaulted her in the dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman in 1996 after a chance encounter in the luxury department store across the street from Trump Tower. She is one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment, and she went public with her allegation that Trump raped her in a memoir published in 2019.

Trump, 76, did not attend the trial in federal court in Manhattan, and his defense called no witnesses at the trial. He has insisted that he never met Carroll and dismissed her as a “nut job” who fabricated the story to gin up sales of her book. The judge had instructed the jury that it could consider whether the encounter amounted to rape or to a less serious form of assault, such as forcible touching or abuse. The defamation claim stemmed from dismissive comments Trump made about Carroll on social media, calling her claims a “hoax” and “con job.”

“I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace—a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time!” Trump wrote in a post on Truth Social after the verdict. He has said he would appeal any verdict finding him culpable and awarding damages.

The legal standard for liability in a civil lawsuit is lower than in a criminal case. In a civil suit, liability only requires proving something likely occurred, whereas in a criminal matter, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Trump has not been convicted of any crime.

The verdict is the latest in a string of legal issues weighing on Trump. In April, he was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records in relation to hush-money payments to women shopping stories of having had affairs with him. Trump pleaded not guilty. He is also under investigation for alleged election tampering in Georgia. Meanwhile, a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department is investigating Trump’s possession of classified documents at his home in Florida, as well as whether he bears responsibility for helping foment the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters who falsely believed he had won reelection in 2020.

The #MeToo movement took center stage in the trial, as it was the first time a former U.S. president has been sued for sexual assault. According to Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, the jury’s decision marks a turning point for women who are survivors of sexual violence. “This case has moved the needle on how we talk about and think about sexual assault as survivors know it and as the law has struggled to recognize it. It is a brave thing to stand up and have your voice heard,” she said.

Meanwhile, Trump’s legal team expressed disappointment in the verdict, maintaining the former president’s innocence. “We strongly disagree with the decision and will be appealing,” the team said in a statement.

The verdict is expected to have political implications, as Trump has repeatedly suggested he will run for president again in 2024. Whether or not this verdict is a disqualifying factor for his next presidential run remains to be seen.

Judge Rules Trump Is Not Immune From Jean Carroll’s Lawsuit

On Sunday, May 8, a federal judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll accusing former President Donald Trump of defamation. Carroll had accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, and then defaming her by publicly denying the alleged assault and claiming that she had made it up to sell books. Trump had also insulted Carroll’s looks, suggesting that he would not have sexually assaulted her because she was not his type.

Carroll sued Trump in 2019 for defamation, but Trump had argued that he was immune from such lawsuits because he had made the allegedly defamatory remarks while he was president. The Department of Justice (DOJ) had also intervened in the case, arguing that Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied the alleged assault and that the federal government should replace Trump as the defendant in the case. However, the DOJ under President Joe Biden reversed its position and declined to defend Trump in court, allowing Carroll’s lawsuit to proceed.

In her ruling, Judge Lewis Kaplan agreed with Trump’s argument that he was immune from lawsuits over his official duties as president, and therefore the lawsuit must be dismissed. Kaplan rejected Carroll’s argument that Trump’s alleged defamation was not part of his official duties, noting that Trump’s denial of the alleged assault was made in response to media inquiries about his fitness for office, and therefore was related to his duties as president.

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that she planned to appeal the ruling, arguing that it was wrong as a matter of law and contrary to the facts of the case. Kaplan also criticized the DOJ for changing its position on the case, saying that it had failed to uphold the rule of law and had undermined the rights of sexual assault survivors.

The ruling is a setback for Carroll and other women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, as it effectively shields Trump from accountability for his alleged actions and statements. It is also a blow to the #MeToo movement and efforts to hold powerful men accountable for sexual harassment and assault. However, some legal experts say that the ruling was based on narrow and technical legal grounds, and that it may not have broader implications for other cases or investigations involving Trump.

In conclusion, the federal judge’s decision to dismiss E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump is a setback for her and other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. The ruling was based on Trump’s argument that he was immune from lawsuits over his official duties as president, and the judge agreed with him. The ruling may be appealed, but for now, it effectively shields Trump from accountability for his alleged actions and statements.

In CNN Town Hall, Trump’s Hold On Conservative Voters Highlighted

Former President Donald Trump received a positive response from his supporters when he spoke at a CNN town hall on Wednesday. Trump mocked a woman who accused him of rape, defended his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and expressed pleasure in terminating Roe v. Wade, which drew the loudest applause from the audience. While these actions might hurt his chances with key groups of voters like women, suburbanites, and independents, it significantly highlights his ability to maintain a grip on conservative voters who will ultimately influence the GOP presidential nomination.

Trump’s rivals for the nomination will ultimately find it challenging to face the former president. During the town hall, Trump successfully converted his political disadvantages into jokes and applause-worthy points for the GOP base. The morning after the event, Republican critics of Trump openly admitted their inability to prevent him from clinching the nomination. “I don’t know how anybody beats him,” Senator Lindsey Graham explained on Fox News. Given his strong connection with conservative voters already, it seems Trump is in an excellent position to win the nomination.

Trump’s Republican opponents have been unsuccessful in their attempts to criticize his most controversial actions, indicating the challenge they will confront in their primary run-ins with the former president. Early public polling implies that Trump is the overwhelming frontrunner, with potential competitors afraid to alienate conservative voters by speaking up.

Notably, none of the possible GOP candidates in the 2024 presidential race have focused on Trump’s legal difficulties, despite a jury this week holding him responsible for sexual assault and defamation against an advice columnist, E. Jean Carroll. There was little reaction to the verdict from Trump’s Republican rivals. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who intends to challenge Trump in the 2024 Republican primary, appeared to dismiss any emphasis on the sexual assault verdict in a recent NBC interview, claiming it is a distraction from important issues such as the economy and public safety.

When questioned if he was comfortable having someone liable for sexual assault as president, Pence replied, “I would tell you in my four and a half years serving alongside the president, I never heard or observed behavior of that nature.” This approach is also echoed in events such as the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, with Trump’s opponents unwilling to criticize or comment on the violence for fear of harming their prospects with conservative voters.

Despite facing peril on various fronts, former President Trump’s hold on the Republican Party remains strong, as he continues to enjoy support from the conservative base and is the leading candidate for the GOP nomination. Republican leaders recognize that one point of vulnerability for Trump could be his electability. Despite Trump’s popularity with the conservative base, there are concerns among the broader electorate, particularly women, independents, and college-educated suburban voters, who consider Trump and his politics toxic.

Although this has been the consensus view among party leaders, this has changed in recent weeks, with the Republican Party rallying behind Trump over new legal problems. Though former Vice President Pence has criticized Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, Republican presidential candidates have been mostly quiet on his legal troubles. While Trump’s support among conservative voters remains strong, his unpopularity among moderates and independents could be his Achilles heel in the presidential race.

Despite the potential electability concerns that various Republicans have raised about Former President Trump and his chances of winning the 2024 presidential election, it is unclear whether these concerns alone will be sufficient to dislodge him from his position as the frontrunner in the Republican primary. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has recently criticized Trump and released a memo warning of the disastrous implications for the Republican Party if Trump were to become its nominee.

According to Chris Wilson, head of data for the “Never Back Down” PAC, Trump’s nomination could result in ideological extremism that would alienate non-Republicans and lead to a loss of feasible senate and house seats in a general election. Nonetheless, Trump continues to maintain his strong standing with the Republican base. In contrast, former Democratic President Joe Biden, who is eager for a rematch, has launched a political attack against Trump, releasing a video in response to his remarks during the CNN town hall, which described Jan. 6 as a “beautiful day.”

While some Republicans, such as former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Representative Liz Cheney have attempted to cast Trump in a negative light, it remains uncertain if these efforts will be enough to hurt his chances of winning the Republican nomination.

Regardless, Trump appears unconcerned by potential political liabilities ahead of 2024, even suggesting that he may pardon many of his supporters who were convicted of criminal charges after the deadly Capitol insurrection. “Many of them are just great people”, said Trump.

Biden Invites Modi For Official State Visit

To mark the deepening partnership between the United States and India, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an official state visit at the White House on June 22, 2023.

This will be Modi’s first-ever state dinner at the White House, and Biden’s third state dinner for world leaders, coming after the President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol in April 2023, and President of France, Emmanuel Macron in December 2022. The last state dinner for an Indian Head of Government was hosted by President Barack Obama in November 2009 for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India for an Official State Visit to the United States, which will include a state dinner, on June 22, 2023,” the White House Press Officer Karine Jean Pierre announced May 10.

“The upcoming visit will affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India and the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together,” Jean Pierre said.

While this is not Prime Minister Modi’s first trip to the White House, an official state visit goes beyond every-day diplomacy, in displaying the pomp and circumstance as well as depth and significance of a bilateral relationship.

And this is a time when the bilateral relationship is at its height in terms of expanding the reach to the Indo-Pacific. And like all past visits, US-India relations have always had challenges that require a public face and a private negotiation, this time with Ukraine and the Russian invasion and India’s domestic politics, moving simultaneously with increased defense and national security collaboration.

Both Biden and Modi have met not just as part of The Quad for Indo-Pacific at the White House, but they’ve been together and other forums be it in East Asia or Europe. And top officials and lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, from both administrations have been meeting on a regular basis both in Washington and New Delhi, some for their own agendas and constituencies in US, and others for ironing out the nitty gritty of defense, trade, visa, Russia, and even rights issues.

President Biden has probably the highest number of Indian-American appointees and nominees during his three years in office than any previous administration. But the most difficult appointment to push through was that of an Ambassador to India, a position that lay vacant until recently when Ambassador Eric Garcetti was finally cleared by the US Senate.

“The visit will strengthen our two countries’ shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific and our shared resolve to elevate our strategic technology partnership, including in defense, clean energy, and space,” the spokesperson said.

“The leaders will discuss ways to further expand our educational exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as our work together to confront common challenges from climate change, to workforce development and health security,” Jean Pierre added.

However, during a press briefing the same day, questions about whether human rights would be discussed when the two leaders meet. Jean-Pierre told reporters Biden believes “this is an important relationship that we need to continue and build on as it relates to human rights.”

New Delhi called it a ‘historic visit’ which “offers a valuable opportunity for India and the US to further deepen a comprehensive and forward-looking global strategic partnership.”

India’s Ministry of External Affairs put out a statement echoing Washington’s views about the June 22 visit. “The visit will underscore the growing importance of the strategic partnership between India and the United States as the two nations collaborate across numerous sectors,” the MEA statement said.

“The leaders will have the opportunity to review strong bilateral cooperation in various areas of mutual interest, including technology, trade, industry, education, research, clean energy, defense, security, healthcare, and deepening people-to-people connections,” the Government of India said.

“Prime Minister Modi and President Biden will also explore ways to strengthen India-US collaboration in pluri-lateral and multilateral fora, including in the G20. They would reflect on their shared vision for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific and discuss opportunities to expand and consolidate the Quad engagement,” MEA added.

US experts monitoring US-India relations are confident that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit will be “really productive and positive.” They believe the visit will highlight the growing strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific, progress in defense and security areas, and foresee advancement in the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) dialogue.  However, they say progress in commercial engagement is still “lagging” but are confident that the Russia-Ukraine war will not overshadow this important visit.

(President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Modi announced the U.S.-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) in May 2022, and it was launched Jan. 31, 2023, with the express objective “to elevate and expand our strategic technology partnership and defense industrial cooperation between the governments, businesses, and academic institutions of our two countries.”)

Modi visited the White House in September 2021 to attend the Quad Summit, where the Indian Prime Minister along with Biden, Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, and Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga reviewed progress about their “Commitments to advance our shared and positive agenda for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

In a statement, the White House said the visit would strengthen the shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific and the desire to elevate the bilateral strategic technology partnership, including in defense, clean energy, and space.

“I would say the security relationship between our governments is moving along at a pretty good pace – between operations and between attempts to find new ways to share defense technology,” Richard Rossow, senior adviser and Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told News India Times. He emphasized that both governments would work towards strongly advancing iCET.

“I do hope they find interesting ways to further deepen the commercial relationship. The numbers are pretty good, but so far, our governments haven’t really found useful ways to try to accelerate commercial engagement,” Rossow said. “They have a tough time resolving small problems,” he contended. “So hopefully, at least in commercial areas that have strategic significance, we can begin to see real tangible progress, following the national security advisors visit in January…commercial is lagging a bit, but I know that’ll be highlighted in the visit.”

“It shows the importance that the Biden administration attaches to its relationship with India,” Lisa Curtis, senior fellow and director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told News India Times, reflecting on the implications of the visit.

“This will be a great opportunity to expand on iCET, that was launched by the National Security Advisors in January to discuss mutual concerns on how to deal with a rising China,” Curtis added. She termed Modi’s state visit “very significant,” as such visits are not accorded to every leader.

Curtis foresees there will be progress on the iCET dialogue and went on to say, “It is really important because of the US-China competition and the race to gain a technological edge right now. So, iCET really shows that the US is interested in working closely with India on creating resilient supply chains when it comes to critical and emerging technologies,” while adding “And it also shows the importance of India having the defense capabilities it needs to defend itself and in particular to face down any Chinese aggression at the border.”

About security partnerships, Curtis pointed out “India really has not made a major defense purchase from the United States since President Trump visited India over three years ago when they made the major helicopter purchase from the United States. So, I think the expectation is that we might see something on the defense and security side, come to fruition.”

Rossow and Curtis both noted that Biden and Modi would meet at the Quad Summit later this month in Sydney, and again in September in New Delhi for the G20 Leaders’ Summit. They emphasized that continued engagement is vital for US-India relations.

Curtis recalled that Modi’s visit was preceded by important visits by US-Indo-Pacific partners since January, including Prime Minister of Japan, Kishida Fumio, President of South Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol, and President of Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “Now with India, it sort of taps off this very momentous six months, the US really operationalizing Indo-Pacific policy and strategy with all these important partners and of course India is certainly one of those.”

Regarding the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on US-India relations, Rossow said “It will be brought up. I’m sure that we’d love to see India’s position stiffen a little bit more on Russia’s invasion. If you look at some of the numbers, India’s trade with Russia and imports from Russia have really been spiking. So, India is providing, a critical economic lifeline to Russia during this war period. And I’m sure it’ll get raised but it won’t be the focus of the visit. It’ll be a talking point…”

Touching upon the Russia-Ukraine war, Curtis said, “I think the US has been willing to set aside the differences with India over Russia, in order to really maximize the potential of the relationship and build on the strategic convergences that are there which is in promoting a free open rules based Indo-Pacific,” adding that this is one of the top priorities of US, and India is an integral part in fulfilling that vision.

Curtis, acknowledged that there are some areas of tension in the US-India trade relationship, but believes that the positive aspects of the partnership outweigh the negative. She noted that during the Trump administration, there was an excessive focus on the trade differences between the two countries, but the Biden administration seems to be prioritizing the broader strategic relationship and cooperation in the free and open Indo-Pacific region. Although trade will still be discussed, Curtis doesn’t think it will be as prominent as it was during the previous administration.

Billionaire Republican Donor Pays Tuition Fees For US Supreme Court Justice’s Grandnephew

Billionaire Republican donor, Harlan Crow, paid the tuition fees for the grandnephew of US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to a new report by non-profit news organisation ProPublica. Crow claimed to have paid fees for pupils in the past from his own personal funds. This follows ProPublica’s revelation last month of Crow treating Justice Thomas and his wife to lavish holidays. The report prompted calls for ethics and disclosures to be reviewed by America’s top court. While Supreme Court justices are required to annually disclose gifts, Justice Thomas did not publicly declare the tuition fees paid for Mark Martin, who he has raised as his son since the age of six. Martin neither knew that Crow paid his tuition fees, nor declared them himself.

According to the report, Crow also paid for Martin’s tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy, a Virginia day and boarding school attended before and after Hidden Lake Academy. It is uncertain how much Crow paid in total. It is public knowledge that tuition and boarding fees at Randolph-Macon Academy are $43,873 annually.

Harlan Crow, through his office, did not directly address the payment of Martin’s tuition but stated that he has always believed in the importance of quality education and has been passionate about giving back to the less fortunate. “It’s disappointing that those with partisan political interests would try to turn helping at-risk youth with tuition assistance into something nefarious or political.”

Mark Paoletta, a friend of Justice Thomas and former official in Donald Trump’s administration, defended the Supreme Court Justice by arguing that he did not have to report Martin’s tuition under a 1978 law that requires judges to disclose gifts to a “son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.” Paoletta stated, “Harlan Crow’s tuition payments made directly to these schools on behalf of Justice Thomas’s great nephew did not constitute a reportable gift. Justice Thomas never asked Harlan Crow to pay for his great nephew’s tuition.” He described ProPublica’s report as “malicious” and an attempt “to manufacture a scandal about Justice Thomas”.

This new report, coupled with last month’s revelation, has increased scrutiny on ethics and disclosures at the US Supreme Court. Democratic senators have called for an investigation into Justice Thomas while some Republican senators have accused their colleagues of targeting the nation’s highest court for political reasons. At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers were divided on whether Supreme Court ethics rules should be reformed. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin argued that ethical standards for Supreme Court justices are too lenient. He argued that judges and other public officials in lower offices are held to a higher standard. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Lindsay Graham claimed that the left is attempting to delegitimise the court. The Supreme Court currently has a 6-3 conservative majority.

Justice Thomas has not commented on the ProPublica report at this time. A statement by Thomas in response to last month’s report stated that he had sought guidance on whether to report gifts from friends such as Crow from colleagues in the judiciary. He was told that “personal hospitality from close personal friends, who did not have business before the Court, was not reportable.” Thomas describes Crow and his wife Kathy Crow as long-time friends of over 25 years.

Bipartisan Immigration Bill To Address Border Security And Crisis At The Mexican Border

Efforts for a bipartisan immigration overhaul, together with enhanced border security, are emerging in the US Congress as migrants amass across the Mexican border ahead of the end of COVID-era border restrictions in May. In one such last-minute legislative push, U.S. border authorities may be granted similar expulsion powers allowed under the expiring COVID restrictions – referred to as Title 42 – for a period of two years, according to a congressional office involved in the talks.

Title 42 began under Republican former President Donald Trump in 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and allows U.S. authorities to expel migrants to Mexico without the chance to seek asylum. Many Republicans and Democrats fear the end of the order will lead to a rise in migration that authorities are poorly equipped to face. A top border official recently told lawmakers that migrant crossings could jump to 10,000 per day after May 11th, nearly double the daily average in March.

Arizona Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis are leading the efforts to temporarily extend border expulsions. The pair view it as a short-term fix while they work on broader immigration reform. Sinema’s spokesperson, Hannah Hurley, said, “This is squarely about the immediate crisis with the end of Title 42.”

Separately, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives plans to pass a package of border security measures next week, placing tougher constraints on asylum-seekers, resuming the construction of a wall along the southwest border with Mexico, and expanding federal law enforcement. However, some Democrats characterise the House border legislation as inhumane, while several Democratic and Republican senators eagerly await such a bill. Tillis, who is pushing both the short-term fix for the Title 42’s expiration and a more comprehensive immigration package, said a House-passed bill would be “something we can build on”. He added that it could take two to three months to create a compromise, but senators had no illusions that this would be an easy task.

Since a 1986 immigration reform package, which provided some three million immigrants legal status, Congress repeatedly has failed to update the nation’s policies. There are around 11 million unauthorised immigrants in the United States who could have a stake in the outcome of this latest effort, along with US businesses desperately in need of workers.

To succeed in the Democrat-controlled Senate, the legislation would require 60 senators from both parties to support it, as well as the backing of the Republican-controlled House. Republican Senator from a border state, John Cornyn, described it as “a high-wire act,” adding it was “the only path forward.”

In addition, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in the nation, has launched a campaign urging Congress to act. It has received endorsements from 400 groups, ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation to the U.S. Travel Association. Republican-controlled states observe that their farming, ranching, food processing, and manufacturing businesses are in need of workers, a problem that immigrants could help solve if not for Washington’s clunky visa system.

Additionally, passage of an immigration bill coupled with increased border security could bolster President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign and give Republican candidates something to celebrate. The House bill would deal with some of the five “buckets” in the Tillis-Sinema effort, according to a Senate source familiar with their work. Overall, they include a modernisation of the plodding asylum system, improvements to how visas are granted, and measures to more effectively authorise immigrants, including labourers, healthcare workers, doctors, and engineers, to fill American jobs.

It also raises questions of what will happen to the 580,000 “Dreamers” enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, who were brought illegally into the United States as children. Republicans have blocked their path to citizenship for two decades, arguing that it would encourage more people to take the dangerous journey to the border. Senators are aware that some of their goals may need to be abandoned to achieve a “sweet spot.” While Democratic Senator Chris Murphy was asked how the difficulty in winning immigration legislation stacks up to other recent battles, Senator Murphy said, “It’s an 11 on a scale of 10.”

Americans Express Not Enthused Over Prospects of Biden-Trump Rematch in 2024

President Biden is reportedly set to announce his reelection campaign early next week, but many Americans express exhaustion over the prospect of a 2024 rematch between Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, according to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll. The survey of 1,530 U.S. adults, conducted from April 14 to 17, found that 38% chose exhaustion out of eight emotions when considering another Biden-Trump campaign. Among registered voters, the number was even higher at 44%. No other sentiment managed to break the 30% mark among all Americans.

A Biden-Trump rematch would be the first general election for president since 1892 to feature the incumbent and his defeated predecessor competing as major-party nominees. Moreover, it would be the first White House race in U.S. history in which one candidate is facing indictment and possible criminal prosecution for conspiring to overturn his prior loss. Such factors naturally trigger fatigue and anxiety among voters.

However, voters are not as pessimistic about a Biden-Trump sequel as they were a few months ago. In December, a nearly a third of them (32%) told Yahoo News and YouGov that “if Joe Biden and Donald Trump run against each other for president again in 2024,” the result would be either “the worst thing that could happen” (15%) or “mostly bad” (17%); only 23% said it would be “mostly good” (11%) or “the best thing that could happen” (12%). Now, a negative view accounts for 29%, while 26% express a positive view. About 3 in 10 continue to say it’s “a mix of good and bad.” Positive views have increased since December among both Republicans (33%, up from 30%) and Democrats (24%, up from 17%).

In contrast, Republicans express hope (+20), excitement (+10), and pride (+5) at higher rates than Democrats. Much of the liberal aversion to another Biden-Trump contest likely reflects the former president’s staggering unpopularity among Democrats, with a full 68% of them expressing “very unfavourable” opinions of him. Yet Democrats’ overall negativity also underscores their unease about Biden. While they overwhelmingly approve (80%) of his performance in office, anxiety about Biden’s status as the oldest president in U.S. history—80 years old—seems to dampen confidence in his candidacy.

Republicans are more likely to see a rematch positively than negatively, while Democrats are more likely to see a rematch negatively than positively. Exhaustion, for example, is more prevalent among Democrats (44%) than Republicans (26%) by an 18 percentage-point margin, and fear (+12 for Democrats), sadness (+15), and anger (+9) are more common on the left as well.

Asked in June 2020 how concerned they were “about Joe Biden’s health and mental acuity,” just 28% of Democrats said they were either somewhat (10%) or very concerned (18%); the other 72% said they were either slightly (28%) or not at all concerned (44%). Over two and a half years later, however, the combined percentage of somewhat or very concerned Democrats has risen to about 40%, while the combined percentage who were slightly or not at all concerned has fallen by the same amount, to about 60%, according to a late February Yahoo News/YouGov poll. Overall, nearly 7 in 10 voters (68%) said in February that Biden would be “too old for another term,” with more Democrats agreeing (48%) than disagreeing (34%).

Despite Biden’s approval rating remaining below 50% among all Americans, it is now at its highest level (44%) since September 2021 (up from about 40% for much of 2022). His approval rating on the economy (at 40%) is now 4 points higher than it was in early February, while his approval rating on inflation (36%) increased by 5 points over the same period. And he performs three or four points better on each of those measures among registered voters.

Biden’s approval numbers are still lower than the White House would like them to be, but current trend lines favor the president over his recently indicted predecessor. In a general election matchup, Biden now leads Trump by a four-point margin (46% to 42%) among registered voters, up from a two-point lead the previous month.

In conclusion, Americans express exhaustion over the prospect of a 2024 rematch between Biden and Trump, but they are not as pessimistic as they were a few months ago. While some Republicans hope for a rematch, some Democrats feel anxious about Biden’s age and health. Biden’s approval rating on the economy and inflation has improved, and he enjoys a four-point lead over Trump in a general election matchup among registered voters.

US Supreme Court Allows Abortion Drug For Now

The US Supreme Court has decided to maintain women’s access to a drug commonly used in abortions, rejecting lower-court restrictions while a lawsuit continues. The drug in question is mifepristone, which is used in combination with misoprostol in more than half of all abortions in the US. The drug has been approved for use in the country since 2000, with more than five million people having used it. The justices granted emergency requests from the Biden administration and Danco Laboratories, which makes mifepristone. They are appealing a lower court ruling that would roll back Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the drug. Two of the nine justices voted to allow restrictions to take effect, with Justice Samuel Alito issuing a four-page dissent. The next stop for the case is at the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which has set arguments for May 17.

The challenge to mifepristone is the first abortion controversy to reach the Supreme Court since its conservative majority overturned Roe v. Wade 10 months ago and allowed more than a dozen states to effectively ban abortion outright. Even with their court victory, abortion opponents returned to federal court with a new target: medication abortions, which make up more than half of all abortions in the US. Women seeking to end their pregnancies in the first 10 weeks without more invasive surgical abortion can take mifepristone along with misoprostol.

The FDA has eased the terms of mifepristone’s use over the years, including allowing it to be sent through the mail in states that allow access. The abortion opponents filed suit in Texas in November, asserting that the FDA’s original approval of mifepristone 23 years ago and subsequent changes were flawed. They won a ruling on April 7 by US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, revoking FDA approval of mifepristone. The judge gave the Biden administration and Danco Laboratories a week to appeal and seek to keep his ruling on hold. Responding to a quick appeal, two more Trump appointees on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the FDA’s original approval would stand for now.

Their ruling would have effectively nullified changes made by the FDA starting in 2016, including extending from seven to 10 weeks of pregnancy when mifepristone can be safely used. The court also would have halted sending the drug in the mail or dispensing it as a generic, and patients who seek it would have had to make three in-person visits with a doctor. Women also might have been required to take a higher dosage of the drug than the FDA says is necessary. The administration and Danco have said that chaos would ensue if those restrictions were to take effect while the case proceeds. Potentially adding to the confusion, a federal judge in Washington has ordered the FDA to preserve access to mifepristone under the current rules in 17 Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia that filed a separate lawsuit.

President Joe Biden praised the high court for keeping mifepristone available while the court fight continues. “The stakes could not be higher for women across America. I will continue to fight politically-driven attacks on women’s health. But let’s be clear — the American people must continue to use their vote as their voice, and elect a Congress who will pass a law restoring the protections of Roe v. Wade,” he said in a statement.

The justices weighed arguments that allowing restrictions contained in lower-court rulings to take effect would severely disrupt the availability of mifepristone. Alito questioned the argument that chaos would result, saying the administration “has not dispelled doubts that it would even obey an unfavorable order in

Facebook Users Can Apply For A Share In $725 Million Lawsuit Settlement

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has agreed to pay out $725 million as part of a settlement for a privacy lawsuit that stemmed from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The former British political consulting company reportedly accessed the personal information of approximately 87 million Facebook users in 2018, which they used to target voters during the 2016 US presidential campaign. Users who held Facebook accounts from May 2007 to December 2022 are now eligible to apply for a share of the settlement funds.

To apply, individuals can either submit their forms online or send them by mail before the deadline of August 25th. The application form requires users to provide their personal information, such as name, address, contact information, birthday, Facebook handle, and payment information.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, faced scrutiny from the US Congress on account of the scandal. The members accused the social media platform of failing to protect user data. The settlement represents one of the world’s largest privacy-related payouts, reflecting the severity of the allegations leveled against Facebook.

In the words of Meta’s general counsel, “We are pleased to have reached a settlement in this case, which we believe is fair and reasonable.”

The settlement amount will be split among eligible users, with individual payouts varying based on the number of valid claims. The company also committed to tightening its data protection policies and implementing measures to prevent instances of data misuse.

According to the lawsuit, Facebook was accused of not monitoring third-party access to user data or use of that data. This legal action was taken after it was discovered in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica had obtained private information from millions of Facebook users’ profiles without their consent, in one of the biggest data breaches in Facebook’s history. As a result, Cambridge Analytica was able to use the social media activity of millions of users in the United States to create voter profiles that were then used to assist Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Meta previously denied any wrongdoing, but the company agreed to settle the lawsuit by setting aside $725 million for claimants. Claimants will receive one point for each month they had an activated Facebook account. The total number of points assigned to all claimants will be calculated and then divided by the net settlement amount, which is $725 million minus administrative costs and other fees, in order to determine the amount of money available for each point. Each claimant will receive the amount multiplied by the number of points they were assigned.

It’s important to note that Meta’s directors and legal representatives are not eligible for the settlement, and users have until August 25 to file their claims by filling out their mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and Facebook user names, and confirming their use of Facebook between May 24, 2007 and Dec. 22, 2022. The final hearing to approve the settlement is scheduled for September 7 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

As Meta continues to face scrutiny over privacy concerns on its social media platforms, the company has recently announced that it will be introducing more tools to protect user privacy. However, the settlement for this lawsuit serves as a reminder of the importance of user privacy and the consequences that companies may face if they fail to protect it.

As stated on the settlement’s website, “Users who participated in Facebook’s service between May 24, 2007 and December 22, 2022 must be given proper control over sharing their personal information with third parties. This settlement is a reminder that we must enforce our rights to privacy.”

Hindu And Indian American Coalition Launched In Support Of Republican Party

In an effort to reach out to the Indian American community ahead of the 2024 elections, the Republican Party has launched a new Republican Hindu and Indian American Coalition, with well-known Indian-American Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar serving as its national chairman.

Making the announcement, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said, “Republicans stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Hindu and Indian American families and I am excited to announce this important coalition, alongside Shalli, to build upon our historic investments in Hindu and Indian American communities.

“We celebrate the contributions of the Hindu and Indian American community at large for strengthening America as entrepreneurs, tech innovators, physicians, IT professionals, owners of hundreds of thousands of small businesses and service members, ” she added.

According to the official statement, the new coalition will expand outreach to the important Indian American community in 2024 as well as build upon the Republicans’ permanent investment in Hindu and Indian communities across the country.

Picture : TheUNN

Describing the chairwoman as a true ally of the 6 million strong community of Hindu Americans, Kumar said, “I am honored to serve on the RNC’s Hindu and Indian American Coalition, to continue my work alongside Chairwoman McDaniel to convert a large number of Hindu and Indian American voters permanently from Democrat to Republican and also strengthen the bond between the United States and India.”

A Punjabi industrialist based in Chicago, Kumar came to the United States for further studies in 1969 and went on to found the AVG Group of Companies, which designs and manufactures electronic components and products supplied worldwide.

He has also founded the National Indian American Public Policy Institute (NIAPPI), a think tank focusing on issues relevant to Indian Americans and the Republican Hindu Coalition. Kumar is known for playing a crucial role in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, which has been documented by James Kahrs in a book titled “Ab Ki Baar Trump Sarkar.” The formation of the coalition by the Republicans reflects the significance of the Indian diaspora community in US electoral politics.

Joe Biden Announces 2024 White House Run

President Biden has formally announced his campaign for re-election in 2024, asking Americans for four years to “finish this job”, possibly setting up an extraordinary rematch with Donald Trump.

Biden said: “When I ran for president four years ago, I said we were in a battle for the soul of America – and we still are.”

Announcing his intention on Tuesday, April 25th, 2023 with a three-minute video, opening with pulsing images of the US Capitol attack, Biden warned that the US remains under threat from the anti-democratic forces unleashed by his predecessor, who he beat in 2020.

Biden launched his re-election campaign on the fourth anniversary of his return to politics in 2019, when he declared his third presidential run. Since then, the political landscape has changed.

Picture : Swarajya

The US is still grappling with the scars of a pandemic that killed more than 1.1 million and with inflation that has eased from historic highs but remains painful. Americans remain deeply divided, convulsed by the loss of federal abortion rights, near-weekly mass shootings and worsening climate disasters.

Already the oldest president, Biden would be 86 before the end of a second term, nearly a decade older than Ronald Reagan was when he left the White House in 1989. Trump is 76.

In his video, Biden warned that “Maga extremists” – Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again” – were working to strip away “bedrock freedoms”.

“Cutting social security that you’ve paid for your entire life while cutting taxes for the very wealthy,” Biden said. “Dictating what healthcare decisions women can make, banning books and telling people who they can love. All while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.”

Biden is dogged by low approval ratings and concerns about his age. Only a quarter of Americans want him to run again, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Among Democrats, that figure is 50%. Should Biden win the nomination, as expected, most Democrats will support him.

Hours after making his candidacy official, Biden was greeted by chants of “four more years” during remarks to union workers at a conference in Washington DC.

“Our economic plan is working,” the president said in a speech rife with references to his working-class upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “Let’s finish the job,” he declared.

Biden has made clear he plans to run on accomplishments secured in the first half of his presidency, when Democrats had majorities in Congress.

Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, delivering financial assistance to those hit hard by Covid. He also approved a $1 trillion infrastructure bill; signed the first major federal gun safety bill in nearly 30 years; pursued initiatives to both treat veterans exposed to toxic burn pits and boost the semiconductor industry; and made Ketanji Brown Jackson the first Black woman on the supreme court.

Perhaps Biden’s most significant legislative achievement to date is the Inflation Reduction Act, the most significant US response to the climate crisis. While Biden’s policies are broadly popular, he has struggled to earn credit. He has spent the last few months attempting to sell his economic policies and rally Americans before a showdown with congressional Republicans over the federal debt limit.

On the world stage, Biden has rallied a global coalition behind Ukraine in response to Russia’s invasion while seeking to strengthen US defenses against China. The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, however, was among the lowest points of Biden’s presidency, even as he fulfilled a promise to end America’s longest war.

Republicans greeted Biden’s campaign announcement by assailing his handling of immigration and the economy. “Biden is so out-of-touch that after creating crisis after crisis, he thinks he deserves another four years,” said Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee. “If voters let Biden ‘finish the job’, inflation will continue to skyrocket, crime rates will rise, more fentanyl will cross our open borders, children will continue to be left behind, and American families will be worse off.”

In his campaign video, Biden warned that individual freedoms are under attack by far-right Republicans who have trampled reproductive, voting and LGBTQ+ rights. “This is not a time to be complacent,” he said. “I know America. I know we’re good and decent people.”

After nearly a half-century in public life including 36 years as a senator from Delaware and eight years as the vice-president to Barack Obama, Biden called himself a “bridge” to the next generation of Democrats. But only two fringe candidates have challenged him for the nomination: the self-help author Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine activist Robert F Kennedy Jr.

The Republican field continues to grow. Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador, has entered the race. The South Carolina senator Tim Scott has taken steps to run. The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, is widely expected to announce soon. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice-president, is weighing a run.

Trump announced his candidacy after the midterms in November. He and Biden both face federal investigations over their handling of classified information. In Biden’s case, documents were discovered at his office and home. His lawyers have stressed they are cooperating.

In his video, Biden said: “Every generation of Americans has faced a moment when they’ve had to defend democracy. Stand up for our personal freedoms. Stand up for the right to vote and our civil rights.”

Modi Lures Kerala Christian Voters By Meetings With Bishops

While the ruling Hindutva Party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues to engage in a war against the minority Christian community across India, falsely accusing Christians of converting Hindus and arresting and punishing several Christian leaders on trumped up charges, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken upon himself to win the Christian vote bank in Kerala by wooing the Christian leadership in the southern state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the top leaders of various church leaders in Kerala, giving a push to the BJP’s efforts to reach out to the influential minority community in the southern state ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, sources said.

Picture : The Republic World

It is learned that Modi, who arrived in Kerala on a two-day visit on Monday, April 24, 2023, met eight top Church leaders including Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Cardinal George Alencherry, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church head Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis, Syrian Orthodox Church head Baselios Marthoma Mathews III and Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Church Joseph Mor Gregorios.

The Prime Minister also met the senior leaders of the Latin Catholic Church Archbishop

Joseph Kalathiparambil, Archbishop of Knanaya Church Mathew Moolakkatt, Archbishop of the Knanaya Jacobite Archdiocese Kuriakose Mar Severios, and Metropolitan of the Chaldean Syrian Church Mar Awgin Kuriakose, reports said.

The meeting, a part of the BJP’s outreach campaign ‘Sneha Yatra’, took place at Hotel Taj Malabar in Kochi after the Prime Minister attended a massive road show and a youth conclave, Yuvam 2023, at the Sacred Hearts College ground here.

Picture : NCR

Jacobite Church bishop Joseph Mar Gregorius said Modi highlighted the Christian community’s pro-BJP stand in Goa and the states in the Northeast but expressed doubt whether the Prime Minister’s meeting with the bishops would fetch the party votes in Kerala. “People do not vote as per the directive of bishops. People evaluate the performance of a government before casting their vote. People are enlightened. However, at the meeting we could raise (many) issues,’’ he said.

Among issues that figured in the meeting are the farm sector crisis, rights of Dalit Christians and livelihood issues of the coastal fishermen community, sources said. People privy to details said Modi did not give any assurance on the issues the bishops raised. “When the issue of rubber farmers was raised, Modi said he was aware of it, but he did not react on the issues of Dalit Christians and woes of fishermen, especially against the backdrop of the draft of the blue economy policy that fishermen were opposing,’’ media reports said.

As part of the party’s minority outreach, BJP leaders in Kerala had visited Christian and Muslim leaders and the homes of people belonging to these communities on the festive occasions of Easter and Eid, respectively.

Cardinal George Alencherry, head of Syro-Malabar Church, said the meeting went off “very well”, and that people of Kerala are “appreciative of the Modi government (and) are looking for further development in Kerala under the Centre’s initiative”.

Alencherry told the media: “We shared the needs of the Christian community, as also the needs we are visualising for people of Kerala. We presented before him the woes of farmers, problems of fishermen, the rights of Dalit Christians. He spoke about what he had done for Kerala and Christians. He mentioned 10% reservation for the poor without any consideration of religion. We also shared our anxieties about (Christian) missionary work in North India, which are hindered by religious fundamentalism.”

He said the Prime Minister assured them that there would be “protection for all the faithful in the country. He also mentioned the visit of Pope Francis to India in near future.”

The BJP is looking for support from the community in Kerala, the state with their largest population in the country, as it works to make a fresh headway there after tasting little success in previous elections. Anil Antony, son of senior Kerala Congress leader A K Antony, a Christian, joined the BJP recently.

Ahead of the last assembly elections in Kerala in 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met similarly with Catholic bishops as part of what was construed as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) efforts to reach out to the Christian community ahead of the assembly elections in Kerala. Modi met Cardinal Oswald Gracias of the Latin-rite Church, Mumbai, Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, and Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church — both Kerala — in his office in 2021.

In the same year, Pope Francis received at the Vatican, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first-ever meeting between the two leaders.  After holding talks with the Pope, Modi was received by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

Keralites were not impressed with such meetings and the BJP did not win any seat in the state assembly elections.

On Easter Sunday this year, Modi visited the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi, where he joined the Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi Archdiocese and the Christian community at a prayer service and planting a tree at the Cathedral premises.

After the visit, PM Modi tweeted, “Today, on the very special occasion of Easter, I had the opportunity to visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi. I also met spiritual leaders from the Christian community.” The prime minister’s rare visit to the church is imbued with political significance as well, as the ruling BJP has been actively wooing Christians.

Two years later in 2023, buoyed by the BJP’s performance in polls in three Northeastern states including Christian-dominated Nagaland and Meghalaya last month, the Prime Minister had announced that the party-led alliance would form a government in Kerala too in the coming years.

“It is a matter of fact that incidents of violence against Christians have increased from little over 100 in 2014 to 600 by the end of 2022 according to UCF toll free helpline (No: 1800-208-4545) service. This year, 2023, has already witnessed 200 incidents in the first 100 days,” pointed out A C Michael, a former member of the Minority Commision, Delhi Government. “It is also another matter of fact that the Supreme Court of India since 1st September 2022 repeatedly has been asking for details of violence against Christians across India and the Modi government has already sought three extensions as they are unable to find incidents of forceful conversions which are the pretext to target Christians.” Michael disagreed with the claims of Rev Father Francis Swaminathan, the pastor of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi, who claimed that the visit of the prime minister shows his support for minorities.

It may be too early to say if the BJP’s strategy will deliver electoral dividends. What has been apparent so far is that at least some of the Christian church leaders are either not averse to the BJP’s political ideology or to BJP continuing in power, ignoring the atrocities unleashed in many other parts of India by the BJP and its supporters.

But, will the visits and meetings by the Hindutva party leader win Christian votes in Kerala and in other parts of the country? Maybe not. As a Christian leader summarized: “Mercifully, Catholic Bishops have almost zero impact on non-Catholics.  And among Catholics, among Latinos, it is much less than imagined by the PMO or even presumed by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).”

US Supreme Court Keeps Status Quo On Abortion Pill For Now

Picture : WSJ

The US Supreme Court has granted a full stay in a case over the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the abortion pill mifepristone. The court’s decision was a 7-2 vote and preserves access to the drug as the Biden administration and manufacturer Danco Labs appeal a lower court’s ruling that would impose restrictions on the drug. The decision was applauded by the White House, which has pledged to continue to fight restrictions on the medication.
The case centers on the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, which was challenged in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of anti-abortion doctors and associations. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump-appointee, ruled in favor of the group in April, stating that the FDA exceeded its authority when it approved the drug in 2000.
The case has divided the nation, with more than 150 Republican lawmakers supporting the conservative plaintiffs, while Democrats and leading medical associations have pushed for mifepristone’s continued availability. Medication abortion quickly became the new focus of legal battles over abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe v. Wade last June.
“If allowed to take effect, the lower courts’ orders would thwart FDA’s scientific judgment and undermine widespread reliance in a healthcare system that assumes the availability of mifepristone as an alternative to more burdensome and invasive surgical abortions,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the Supreme Court in a filing this week. The Biden administration and Danco Labs have warned of possible wide-ranging consequences if the federal agency’s expertise were to be second-guessed. However, the Alliance Defending Freedom, representing opponents to the abortion pill countered the administration’s concerns amounted to a “sky-is-falling-argument.”
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on May 17th. The case has been watched closely by reproductive rights advocates and opponents, as any decision could have far-reaching implications for access to medication abortion across the country.
Mifepristone, also known by the brand name Mifeprex, is used in combination with misoprostol to terminate early pregnancies of up to 10 weeks’ gestation. The medication has faced restrictions in various states, including mandatory waiting periods and in-person visits with healthcare providers. The COVID-19 pandemic has made access to medication abortion even more difficult, with some states seeking to restrict access to telemedicine appointments and mail-order delivery of the medication.
The FDA approved Mifeprex in 2000 after reviewing extensive clinical data showing the medication to be safe and effective. The medication has been used by more than 4 million individuals in the US and is considered a safe alternative to surgical abortion, which requires anesthesia and often includes an overnight stay in a healthcare facility.
The case before the Supreme Court has implications not only for access to medication abortion but also for the FDA’s authority to regulate prescription drugs. It will be closely watched by medical and legal experts as well as advocacy groups on both sides of the abortion debate.
“As a result of the Supreme Court’s stay, mifepristone remains available and approved for safe and effective use while we continue this fight in the courts,” President Joe Biden said in a statement. “I continue to stand by FDA’s evidence-based approval of mifepristone, and my Administration will continue to defend FDA’s independent, expert authority to review, approve, and regulate a wide range of prescription drugs.”

Will Keralites Get Carried Away By Modi’s Meetings With Bishops?

While the ruling Hindutva Party in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continues to engage in a war against the minority Christian community across India, falsely accusing Christians of converting Hindus and arresting and punishing several Christian leaders on trumped up charges, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken upon himself to win the Christian vote bank in Kerala by wooing the Christian leadership in the southern state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met the top leaders of various church leaders in Kerala, giving a push to the BJP’s efforts to reach out to the influential minority community in the southern state ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, sources said.

Picture : TheUNN

It is learned that Modi, who arrived in Kerala on a two-day visit on Monday, April 24, 2023, met eight top Church leaders including Syro-Malabar Catholic Church head Cardinal George Alencherry, Syro-Malankara Catholic Church head Cardinal Mar Baselios Cleemis, Syrian Orthodox Church head Baselios Marthoma Mathews III and Metropolitan Trustee of the Jacobite Church Joseph Mor Gregorios.

The Prime Minister also met the senior leaders of the Latin Catholic Church Archbishop

Joseph Kalathiparambil, Archbishop of Knanaya Church Mathew Moolakkatt, Archbishop of the Knanaya Jacobite Archdiocese Kuriakose Mar Severios, and Metropolitan of the Chaldean Syrian Church Mar Awgin Kuriakose, reports said.

The meeting, a part of the BJP’s outreach campaign ‘Sneha Yatra’, took place at Hotel Taj Malabar in Kochi after the Prime Minister attended a massive road show and a youth conclave, Yuvam 2023, at the Sacred Hearts College ground here.

As part of the party’s minority outreach, BJP leaders in Kerala had visited Christian and Muslim leaders and the homes of people belonging to these communities on the festive occasions of Easter and Eid, respectively.

Ahead of the last assembly elections in Kerala in 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met similarly with Catholic bishops as part of what was construed as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) efforts to reach out to the Christian community ahead of the assembly elections in Kerala. Modi met Cardinal Oswald Gracias of the Latin-rite Church, Mumbai, Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, and Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church — both Kerala — in his office in 2021.

In the same year, Pope Francis received at the Vatican, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first-ever meeting between the two leaders.  After holding talks with the Pope, Modi was received by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

Picture : TheUNN

Keralites were not impressed with such meetings and the BJP did not win any seat in the state assembly elections.

On Easter Sunday this year, Modi visited the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi, where he joined the Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi Archdiocese and the Christian community at a prayer service and planting a tree at the Cathedral premises.

After the visit, PM Modi tweeted, “Today, on the very special occasion of Easter, I had the opportunity to visit the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi. I also met spiritual leaders from the Christian community.” The prime minister’s rare visit to the church is imbued with political significance as well, as the ruling BJP has been actively wooing Christians.

Two years later in 2023, buoyed by the BJP’s performance in polls in three Northeastern states including Christian-dominated Nagaland and Meghalaya last month, the Prime Minister had announced that the party-led alliance would form a government in Kerala too in the coming years.

“It is a matter of fact that incidents of violence against Christians have increased from little over 100 in 2014 to 600 by the end of 2022 according to UCF toll free helpline (No: 1800-208-4545) service. This year, 2023, has already witnessed 200 incidents in the first 100 days,” pointed out A C Michael, a former member of the Minority Commision, Delhi Government. “It is also another matter of fact that the Supreme Court of India since 1st September 2022 repeatedly has been asking for details of violence against Christians across India and the Modi government has already sought three extensions as they are unable to find incidents of forceful conversions which are the pretext to target Christians.” Michael disagreed with the claims of Rev Father Francis Swaminathan, the pastor of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Delhi, who claimed that the visit of the prime minister shows his support for minorities.

The BJP is looking for support from the community in Kerala, the state with their largest population in the country, as it works to make a fresh headway there after tasting little success in previous elections. Anil Antony, son of senior Kerala Congress leader A K Antony, a Christian, joined the BJP recently.

It may be too early to say if the BJP’s strategy will deliver electoral dividends. What has been apparent so far is that at least some of the Christian church leaders are either not averse to the BJP’s political ideology or to BJP continuing in power, ignoring the atrocities unleashed in many other parts of India by the BJP and its supporters.

But, will the visits and meetings by the Hindutva party leader win Christian votes in Kerala and in other parts of the country? Maybe not. As a Christian leader summarized: “Mercifully, Catholic Bishops have almost zero impact on non-Catholics.  And among Catholics, among Latinos, it is much less than imagined by the PMO or even presumed by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).” 

Picture: TheUNN

Acknowledging False Claims, Fox News Agrees To Pay $787.5 Million In Dominion’s Defamation Lawsuit

Fox News settled Dominion Voting Systems’ blockbuster defamation lawsuit just as it was about to go to trial, agreeing to pay it $787.5 million, media reports stated. “The parties have resolved this case,” Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis said in court Tuesday afternoon.

It is the largest publicly disclosed settlement for a defamation lawsuit in US history. Davis, who has been presiding over the case, previously decided to push back the start of the case one day, giving lawyers for both sides an extra day to devote to settlement discussions.

Dominion CEO John Poulos criticized Fox for broadcasting lies about the company and thanks election officials throughout the US. “Fox has admitted to telling lies about Dominion that caused enormous damage to my company, our employees, and the customers that we serve,” he said. “Nothing can ever make up for that.”

In a statement, Fox News said it was “pleased to have reached a settlement” which it claimed represented a commitment to journalistic standards. “We acknowledge the Court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” a Fox spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “This settlement reflects FOX’s continued commitment to the highest journalistic standards. We are hopeful that our decision to resolve this dispute with Dominion amicably, instead of the acrimony of a divisive trial, allows the country to move forward from these issues.”

The settlement is a victory for Dominion, which no longer has to contend with the prospect of a six-week trial and potentially years of grueling appeals if it had won. But it also means that Fox News’s many detractors won’t get to see the right-wing media network’s biggest executives and stars — including Rupert Murdoch, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity — grilled on the witness stand.

Fox News hosts will not be required to issue retractions or many any other statements under the terms of the agreement, a person familiar with its terms told Insider. In a press conference after Davis announced the settlement, Justin Nelson, an attorney for Dominion, said the $787.5 million payout represented “vindication and accountability.”

“People across the political spectrum can and should disagree on issues even of the most profound importance,” he said. “For our democracy to endure for another 250 years and hopefully much longer, we must share a commitment to facts.”

Settlement talks have been brewing

On Sunday night, Davis pushed back the trial’s start from Monday to Tuesday. Several outlets reported that both sides were in settlement discussions.

At the same time, on the court docket, each side slung filings arguing over technical issues that could determine how much Dominion would be able to claim in damages in the trial.

On Tuesday morning, the case still seemed headed to trial as Davis completed jury selection. Dominion and Fox each had about two dozen lawyers present in court.

But Davis extended the jurors’ lunch break by more than two hours as he retreated to his chambers — beckoning attorneys from both parties to join him — and gave rise to more speculation among the journalists assembled in court that a settlement was imminent.

Dominion filed its lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp., in March 2021. It alleged the network defamed it when its hosts Jeanine Pirro, Maria Bartiromo, and Lou Dobbs brought on conspiracy theorist lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell as guests.

Trump hired Giuliani and Powell to challenge his loss in the 2020 election. The two spun a fantastical, false tale claiming Dominion — in cahoots with rival election technology company Smartmatic — rigged the election by switching votes from Trump to now-President Joe Biden.

Fox News hosts, Dominion alleged, either endorsed or didn’t sufficiently push back against those claims when they invited Powell and Giuliani on their shows.

Davis had already ruled it was “CRYSTAL clear that none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true,” and that Dominion only had to prove Fox acted with “actual malice” — the legal standard for defamation cases involving public figures. Fox, for its part, claimed it was simply reporting the news and that its broadcasts were protected by the First Amendment. First Amendment experts overwhelmingly believed it was Dominion’s case to lose.

In brief remarks on Tuesday afternoon, Davis thanked the jurors for their service and praised attorneys from both Fox and Dominion for their professionalism and the quality of their legal briefs. “I’ve been on the bench since 2010, and I think this is the best lawyering I’ve ever had — ever,” he said.

Fox News’s secrets have already been spilled

Two years of litigation have already dealt Fox heavy blows. In court filings leading up to the trial, Dominion shared excerpts from numerous depositions, texts, and emails from Fox’s executives, hosts, and producers. They depicted a newsroom desperately trying to stay on Trump’s good side while fending off competition from Newsmax, a further-right media network that more explicitly embraced his election lies. Fox News was more interested in protecting its viewership ratings than reporting the news, Dominion argued.

Internal messages showed that Powell shared an email demonstrating her claims of election fraud relied in part on someone claiming to be a time-traveling headless ghost. Carlson, Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and multiple producers all privately believed she had taken leave of her senses, though they didn’t say as much on air and were slow to accept Biden’s electoral victory anyway. People close to Murdoch believed Giuliani, for his part, was frequently drunk. Ingraham called him an “idiot.”

Carlson — the Fox News host with the highest primetime ratings — said in texts that he “passionately” hated Trump and thought him a “demonic force” who nonetheless had the capacity to “destroy” the network. He and Hannity tried to get a Fox News reporter fired when she fact-checked Trump on Twitter.

“We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights,” Carlson wrote as he lost the 2020 election. “I truly can’t wait.” Murdoch had recognized that Fox News’s audience was in Trump’s thrall and said it “would have been stupid” to alienate them. After the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol, he said it was time to make Trump a “non-person.”

Throughout this period, Dominion sent Fox 3,600 fact-checking messages, which it said were widely circulated throughout the network. One executive “received Dominion’s fact check so many times that on November 14 he wrote a colleague: ‘I have it tattooed on my body at this point,'” Dominion lawyers wrote in a filing.

After being told that Dobbs ran false information about election fraud on one of his shows, one producer responded, “Jesus Christ. Does anyone do a fucking simple google search or read emails?” according to a filing. A top executive said “the North Koreans do a more nuanced show” than Dobbs.

As for airing ads from Mike Lindell — the MyPillow CEO who shared an even more outlandish conspiracy theory about Dominion and Smartmatic than the one pushed by Powell and Giuliani — Murdoch agreed in a deposition that he was happy to take his money.

The case has also been beset by late twists. The judge has admonished Fox’s lawyers for withholding certain discovery evidence until right before the start of the trial. And Abby Grossberg, a former producer for Carlson and Bartiromo, alleged that Fox’s attorneys coached her answers in a deposition given for Dominion’s lawsuit. “They’re activists, not journalists,” Grossberg said of Fox News producers in court filings.

It was a common sentiment on Twitter: Fox News has disgraced American democracy by pushing lies that the 2020 election was stolen, Fox’s detractors say. A reckoning in a courtroom, where a judge has no patience for falsehoods, is an important way to bring a reckoning, these people say. A settlement — on the eve of a trial, no less — would let Fox News escape accountability once again, the argument goes.Fox is not out of the woods

The prospect of shareholder lawsuits may complicate any payout to Dominion. One such lawsuit, already working its way through Delaware Chancery Court, alleges Fox Corp. breached its fiduciary duties by allowing Fox News to broadcast election lies and expose it to litigation from Smartmatic and Dominion.

A settlement, First Amendment experts say, may also make Fox the target of future defamation lawsuits from plaintiffs who believe they’ll get a payout. Murdoch already has a record of settling lawsuits: A Washington Post analysis found his companies paid out nearly $750 million over the past 13 years to settle legal claims, including sexual harassment and hacking allegations.

potentially greater risk is a case from Smartmatic, which asks for $2.7 billion in damages. That lawsuit, filed in New York state court, also names Giuliani as a defendant. (The company’s lawsuit against Powell is progressing through a court in Washington, DC, for jurisdictional reasons.) Court filings indicate that Smartmatic has drawn on some of the evidence in the Dominion lawsuit for its own case.

“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in a statement Tuesday. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr To Challenge Biden For White House

Robert F Kennedy Jr, 69-year-old son of assassinated Senator Robert F Kennedy and nephew of President John F Kennedy has filed election paperwork to run for US president in 2024 as a Democrat.

The environmental lawyer’s campaign treasurer, John E Sullivan, confirmed the filing on April 5thm 2023. Kennedy is an outspoken anti-vaccine campaigner. Instagram removed his account in 2021 for “repeatedly sharing debunked claims”, the company said.

Both Democratic and Republican parties hold their own contests – called primaries – to find their presidential nominee. Kennedy will be a rank outsider for the Democratic nomination.

President Joe Biden has indicated he will run for re-election, though he has not yet formally declared his candidacy. He was previously expected to launch his campaign in early April, but aides say his timeline has shifted. CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, has reported that he is expected to formally announce a run in early summer.  Last month, another Democrat, Marianne Williamson, joined the presidential race.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump was first to declare his candidacy and he has been joined by others including former US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

In March, Kennedy said on Twitter he was considering a run for president At the time, he said: “If I run, my top priority will be to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.” Kennedy told a New Hampshire crowd in March that he had “passed the biggest hurdle” – his wife greenlighting the run.

As the co-founder of an environmental law firm, Kennedy won plaudits for campaigning on issues such as clean water, including working to clean up the Hudson River in New York. But his anti-vaccine views go back years and have provoked a strong backlash, including from his own family. In 2021 his sister, Kerry Kennedy, called him “very dangerous” on the issue.

In 2019, three other family members penned an op-ed in the news outlet Politico, denouncing Kennedy’s anti-vaccine views. His sister Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, brother Joseph P Kennedy II and niece Maeve Kennedy McKean said his views were “tragically wrong” and have “deadly consequences”.

In 2022, Facebook and Instagram removed accounts for an anti-vaccine group founded by Mr Kennedy, Children’s Health Defense, for “repeatedly” violating company policies on medical misinformation.

Although Kennedy’s vaccine scepticism long predates Covid, he found a new audience during the pandemic, when revenues to Children’s Health Defense doubled to $6.8m (£5.5m).  Kennedy also published a book, The Real Anthony Fauci, in which he accused the former US infectious disease chief of “a historic coup d’etat against Western democracy”.

He also invoked Nazi Germany during an anti-vaccine speech in Washington, DC last year.  Kennedy has a voice disorder, spasmodic dysphonia, which affects the muscles in his voice box. He married actress Cheryl Hines in 2014 and lives in Los Angeles, California. (Courtesy: BBC)

Christianity In America Will Continue To Live Long

Since the 1990s, large numbers of Americans have left Christianity to join the growing ranks of U.S. adults who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.” This accelerating trend is reshaping the U.S. religious landscape, leading many people to wonder what the future of religion in America might look like.

For years, church leaders and commentators have warned that Christianity is dying in America. They say the American church is poised to follow the path of churches in Western Europe: soaring Gothic cathedrals with empty pews, shuttered church buildings converted into skate parts and nightclubs, and a secularized society where one theologian said Christianity as a norm is “probably gone for good — or at least for the next 100 years.”

About 64% of Americans call themselves Christian today. That might sound like a lot, but 50 years ago that number was 90%, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center study. That same survey said the Christian majority in the US may disappear by 2070.

People who are religiously unaffiliated, sometimes called religious “nones,” accounted for 30% of the U.S. population. Adherents of all other religions – including Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists – totaled about 6%.

Picture : Wikipedia

Depending on whether religious switching continues at recent rates, speeds up or stops entirely, the projections show Christians of all ages shrinking from 64% to between a little more than half (54%) and just above one-third (35%) of all Americans by 2070. Over that same period, “nones” would rise from the current 30% to somewhere between 34% and 52% of the U.S. population.

As millions of Americans celebrated the holiest day in the Christian calendar on Sunday, a prediction about the future of Christianity in the US has come as a pleasant surprise.  CNN asked some of the nation’s top religion scholars and historians recently about the future of Christianity in the US, they had a different message.

They said the American church is poised to find new life for one major reason: Waves of Christians are migrating to the US. And they said the biggest challenge to Christianity’s future in America is not declining numbers, but the church’s ability to adapt to this migration.

Joseph P. Slaughter, a historian and assistant professor of religion at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, says people have been predicting the extinction of Christianity in the US for over two centuries, and it hasn’t happened yet.

He pointed to Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation’s founding fathers, who predicted in the 1820s that Christianity would be replaced in the US by a more enlightened form of religion that rejected Jesus’ divinity and belief in miracles.

Instead, Jefferson’s prophecy was followed by a series of revivals, including the Second Great Awakening, which swept across America and reasserted Christianity as a dominant force in American life.  “I’d never bet against American Christianity — particularly evangelicalism,” Slaughter says, “and its ability to adapt and remain a significant shaper of the American society.”

What’s happening in Europe is the church’s nightmare scenario

If one only looks at the numbers, Slaughter’s optimism seems misguided. Virtually every recent poll about Christianity in America has been brutal for its followers. The Covid-19 pandemic also hurt the church in America. Church attendance has rebounded recently but remains slightly below pre-pandemic levels. A 2021 Gallup poll revealed another grim number for Christians: church membership in the US has fallen below 50% for the first time.

In addition, a cascade of headlines in recent years have stained the church’s reputation, including sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention; the spread of White Christian nationalism; and the perception that the church oppresses marginalized groups such as LGBTQ people.

Church leaders in the US also have fretted about the rise of “nones.” These are people who describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” when asked their religious identity.

The ascent of nones will transform the country’s religious and political landscape, says Tina Wray, a professor of religious and theological studies at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. About 30% of Americans now call themselves nones.

“The interest of the nones will soon outweigh those of the religious right in just a matter of years,” Wray says. “Nones are going to vote as a bloc and they’re going to be pretty powerful. White evangelicals will eventually be eclipsed by the unaffiliated.”

Wray says those who are optimistic about the future of the American church underestimate how quickly Christianity can lose its influence even in a place where it once thrived. She cites what’s happened in the Republic of Ireland, an overwhelmingly Catholic country.

The Catholic Church prohibits divorce and was once so powerful in Ireland that the country wouldn’t legally grant its citizens the legal right to a divorce until 1995, says Wray, author of “What the Bible Really Tells Us: The Essential Guide to Biblical Literacy.” But Wray adds that she recently traveled to Ireland and discovered many of its citizens have left the religion. Churches are being closed and turned into apartment buildings, she says.

“People who went to mass everyday stopped going,” she says. “There’s this cultural Catholic identity, but as far as practicing their faith, it’s just disappearing. So within a generation, that’s all it took. It’s just shocking.”

Why the American church’s future may be different than Europe’s

Most of the religious scholars CNN spoke to said the American church may find salvation in another demographic trend: the booming of Christianity in what is called the “Global South,” the regions encompassing Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The world’s largest megachurch, for example, is not in the US. It’s in South Korea. The Yoido Full Gospel Church has a weekly attendance of about 600,000 members.

Perry Hamalis spent time as a Fulbright Scholar in South Korea, where he personally witnessed the vitality of the Christian church in the Global South.  He says the church is not perceived in South Korea as an instrument of oppression, but one of liberation. When South Korea was colonized by the Japanese in the early 20th century, the church aligned with Koreans to protest.

“Christianity was looked at not as a religion of empire and of the colonizers, but as the religion of the anti-colonial movement and of pro-democracy,” says Hamalis, a religion professor at North Central College in Illinois.

The US has more immigrants than any other country. People from Latin America and Asia now make up the overwhelming majority of immigrants to the US, and many are bringing their religious fervor with them.

This migration is known as the “Browning of America,” a phrase describing a demographic shift that is expected to make White people the minority in the US by 2045.  Those who predict that the church in America will collapse often overlook how the migration of Global South Christians to America will revitalize the country’s religious landscape, scholars say. Christianity could rebound in America if White Christians embrace this one change, they say.

Tish Harrison Warren, a New York Times columnist, pointed out recently that Latino evangelicals are now the fastest-growing group of evangelicals in the US.  “We cannot assume that America will become more secular so long as the future of America is less white,” Warren wrote.

The influx of Black and brown Christians from places like Latin America and Asia collides with another trend: a burgeoning White Christian nationalist movement that insists, incorrectly, that the US was founded as a White, Christian nation. It is hostile to non-White immigrants.

Some churches may discover that Jesus’ command to welcome the stranger collides with their definition of patriotism, Hamalis says.

“Many congregations don’t realize how much of their Christian identity is wrapped up with a kind of (Christian) nationalist narrative,” Hamalis says. “There’s nothing wrong with loving one’s country, but from a Christian perspective that ought to always be secondary to the mission of building the body of Christ and witnessing to the Gospel in the world.”

How Christianity could re-establish its dominance

There are other factors hiding in plain sight that point to the continued vitality of Christianity, others say.  For one, declining church membership doesn’t automatically translate into declining influence.

Consider some recent landmark events. White evangelicals played a critical role in getting former President Trump elected. Conservative Christian groups played a crucial role in the recent passage of state laws limiting LGBTQ rights. And the Supreme Court’s decision last year to overturn Roe vs. Wade was a massive victory for many conservative Christians.

And atheism remains a taboo in American politics. American voters still prefer candidates – including presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden – who profess or evoke Christian beliefs.  “Christianity still holds a lot of capital in this country,” says Lee M. Jefferson, an associate professor of religion at Centre College in Kentucky.

“There has always been a popular notion that a religious community’s strength or influence is connected to numbers and attendance,” Jefferson says. “Even if there is ample space in cathedrals, Christianity will still hold some strong relevance in different landscapes in the US.”

Even the rise of the “nones,” the growing number of Americans who say they don’t care about religion, is not as much of a threat to the church as initial reports suggest, scholars say.

A growing number of Americans may no longer identify as Christian, but many still care about spirituality, says Hans Gustafson, author of “Everyday Wisdom: Interreligious Studies for a Pluralistic World.”

“Just because more Americans are disaffiliating with institutionalized religion — most notably Christian traditions — this does not always mean that people are becoming less religious,” says Gustafson, director of the Jay Phillips Center for Interreligious Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

“Many still practice spirituality: prayer, meditation… and sometimes even regularly attend religious houses of worship,” he says.  Among Americans with no religious affiliation, some still pray daily and say religion is very important in their lives, Gustafson says.

He cites a surprising finding from a 2018 Pew Research Center study of religion in Western Europe. The study found that nones in the US are “much more likely” to pray and believe in God than their European counterparts, said Neha Sahgal, a vice president of research at Pew.

“In fact, by some of these standard measures of religious commitment, American ‘nones’ are as religious as — or even more religious than — Christians in several European countries, including France, Germany and the UK,” Sahgal wrote.

Why the Easter message offers a note of hope

Despite the optimism of many religious scholars, the future of Christianity in America still seems uncertain. Poll numbers about the decline of religiousness in the US cannot be ignored, along with something more intangible: the frailties of human nature.

What if the US enters another xenophobic period and limits migration from non-White Christians?

What if progressive Christians prove unwilling to align with non-White immigrants who tend to be more conservative on issues of sexuality and gender?

And what if some Christians still cling to the belief that America is supposed to be a White Christian nation, even if that assumption causes them to close their church doors to non-White immigrants who could be their salvation?

If that happens, an Easter morning symbol in American churches won’t just be an empty tomb, but empty pews.

But Hamalis, the religion professor who saw Christianity boom in South Korea, says Christians who fear that kind of future can take solace in the Easter message.

“From a Christian perspective, there’s nothing to fear because even death has been conquered,” Hamalis says. “When we are liberated from that fear, we can embrace the person who’s different from us, who speaks a different language or comes from a different culture. We can put ourselves out there in a way that we can’t if we’re just afraid.”

He and other scholars envision a vibrant future for Christianity in the US that’s shared by Warren, the New York Times columnist:

“The future of American Christianity is neither white evangelicalism nor white progressivism,” Warren wrote. “The future of American Christianity now appears to be a multiethnic community that is largely led by immigrants of the children of immigrants.”

If the American church can embrace this future and reverse its shrinking membership, it will have experienced its own resurrection. (Courtesy: CNN)

Spouses Of H-1B Visa Holders In Tech Sector Can Work

In an immigration-friendly move, a judge has ruled that spouses of highly-skilled H-1B visa holders in tech sector can now work in the US, thus upholding an Obama-era rule under which partners were issued H-4 visas.

US District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Tuesday dismissed arguments by Save Jobs USA, who claimed that the Congress never granted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authority to allow foreign nationals, like H-4 visa-holders, to work during their stay in the US.

“That contention runs headlong into the text of the (Immigration and Nationality Act), decades of executive-branch practice, and both explicit and implicit congressional ratification of that practice,” Chutkan wrote in her ruling.

She further said that the DHS has authorised employment not just for students, but also for their spouses and dependents.

The lawsuit was also opposed by big tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. H4 visas are issued to dependent spouses and children who accompany H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, and H-3 visa holders to the US.

The spouses of H-1B visa holders tend to be highly educated, many of them in STEM fields, and previously had careers of their own or worked to support their families.

In 2021, Google filed a legal brief with over 40 companies to protect the work authorisation program that allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US.

As part of his anti-immigration policy, former President Donald Trump had proposed to end the issuing of work authorization (H-4 EAD) for certain spouses of high-skilled talent who came to the US on H-1B visas .

According to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis, 90 per cent of the spouses of H-1B visa holders are female, two-thirds are from India and 6 per cent from China.

“The US can reap significant economic benefits, ease labor shortages, and attract more workers in the global competition for talent if it expanded current rules on work eligibility for the spouses of H-1B visa holders,” the 2022 study by NFAP said. (IANS)

After His Arrest, Trump Says: ‘There Is No Crime’

Donald Trump became the first former American president to be indicted. He was accused by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney of orchestrating a hush-money scheme to help him win the presidency and then covering it up once he was in the White House.

“There is no crime and it should never have been brought” former US President Donald Trump raged in his first public address after being charged with dozens of offenses. Trump was pictured in court on Tuesday, April 4th in a historic first as the former President pleaded not guilty to 34 charges.

In the Manhattan Court, Trump looked defiant as he left Trump Tower and again a few minutes later, when he arrived at court. He raised a pumped fist and stared straight at the waiting cameras, then minutes later waved outside the court.

Picture : NBC

Wearing a grim expression, Trump was arrested and pleaded not guilty in New York City to 34 felony counts of falsifying his business records “to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” according to a somewhat novel indictment disclosed after the former president’s history-making arraignment. He denied any wrongdoing.

Trump was only seen briefly outside the district attorney’s office, where he surrendered to authorities and was booked and fingerprinted behind closed doors.  His mugshot was not taken, according to two law enforcement officials who could not publicly discuss details of the process and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In an unprecedented case, Trump faces charges including at least one felony offense related to hush money payments to women during his 2016 presidential campaign, to cover allegations he had an extramarital affair with porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump pleaded not guilty to “34 counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy for his alleged role in hush money payments to two women toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign.” Charges also include conspiracy and involve two women.

The indictment charges Trump with 34 separate counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, a felony. A separate document laying out the factual basis for Bragg’s allegations against Trump points to a complicated web of arrangements between Trump, his former lawyer Michael Cohen (who is identified as “Lawyer A”), and David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, the company that publishes the National Enquirer.

Bragg alleges that these three men worked together to identify two women who allegedly had sex with Trump, and to pay them to remain silent. The women are identified as “Woman 1” and “Woman 2” by Bragg, but the first woman appears to be former Playboy model Karen McDougal, and the second appears to be porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Cohen, who pleaded guilty to a federal campaign finance crime arising out of this scheme in 2018, paid $130,000 to Daniels shortly before the 2016 election, in order to secure her silence. According to Bragg, Trump then paid Cohen a total of $420,000 over the course of 2017, much of which was intended to reimburse Cohen for the payment to Daniels.

The actual felony counts arise out of allegedly false entries that Trump made in various business records in order to make the payment to Daniels appear to be ordinary legal expenses paid to Cohen.

Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” according to the charging documents. The 13-page “statement of facts” detailed in plain language how Trump allegedly committed crimes to help him get elected to the White House in 2016.

“From August 2015 to December 2017, the Defendant orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election by identifying and purchasing negative information about him to suppress its publication and benefit the Defendant’s electoral prospects,” the statement of facts says. Prosecutors described a “catch and kill scheme” to suppress negative stories about Trump – “in furtherance of his candidacy for President.”

Pornstar Stormy Daniels poked fun at former President Donald Trump on the day he was arraigned in court. She released a graphic tweet which cannot be published in full. She added later in the tweet: “It’s definitely more fun being under my sexy man instead of under arrest.”

Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche said during the hearing that Trump is “absolutely frustrated, upset and believes that there is a great injustice happening” in the courtroom.

Legal analysts vary in their assessments of the strength of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s charges against Trump. Doubts allow some Republican officials to criticize Bragg’s case without defending the former president’s ties to a porn star or any of the other misadventures or falsehoods Trump has accumulated in private or political life.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who twice voted for Trump’s impeachment and says Trump is unfit for office, said in a statement that Bragg “stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda.” Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) accused Bragg of “attempting to interfere” with the democratic process with “politicized charges.”

The next in-person hearing is scheduled for December 4th, though Trump’s attorneys have vowed to do all they can to stop the case beforehand.

During his speech, he said: “I never thought that anything like this could happen in America. The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation from those who seek to destroy it.” He said, “Our country is going to hell” and launched attacks on the judge in the case.

Trump was defiant in his speech, ranting about – among other things – his two impeachment trials during his presidency. He went on to call the New York indictment the latest in an “onslaught of fraudulent investigations. This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election and it should be dropped immediately,” Trump said.

In a social media post from his plane on his flight home from New York, former President Donald Trump said that Tuesday’s court hearing “was shocking to many in that they had no ‘surprises,’ and therefore, no case. Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!”

‘City Of Faith’ Exhibit Celebrates South Asian Religion In NYC

(RNS) — In 2012, Erika Menendez shoved Sunando Sen, 46, onto the New York City subway tracks in front of an oncoming train.  A new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York suggests the city can’t be understood without religion.

“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” she is quoted as having told police shortly after the fatal crime. Sen was born in India and raised Hindu.

In popular culture, New York City is often portrayed as distinctly secular. But “City of Faith: Religion, Activism, and Urban Space,” a new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, suggests that the city — and the public spaces, scents, acts of solidarity and, yes, the hate crimes therein — can’t be understood without religion.

“I think religion is a subtext in the various spaces and conversations where we imagined it to be absent,” the exhibition’s curator, Azra Dawood, told Religion News Service in a recent interview at the museum. “And I’m really hoping that the exhibition surfaces some of the ways in which religion is actually a part of the city.”

Curator Azra Dawood with the “City of Faith: Religion, Activism, and Urban Space” exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. RNS photo by Kathryn Post

Picture : RNS

With a collection of original portraits, maps and interactive installations (featuring curated scents and soundtracks), Dawood challenges New York’s nonreligious reputation, arguing that the city’s perceived secularism is really covert Protestantism. Against this backdrop — in which Protestantism dominates (via land, money and politics) and Catholic and Jewish communities have made inroads — South Asian communities can become both indistinguishable and hypervisible.

As a Muslim and South Asian woman, Dawood is personally familiar with this dynamic, and as an architectural historian, she often considers how religion shows up in concrete and visible ways.

“(Religion) is not siloed off in explicitly religious institutions, such as churches, synagogues, temples, mosques,” Dawood observed. “You find it in the city’s shared public spaces, on streets and sidewalks and waterways, foodways.”

Dawood pointed to Johannes Eisele’s photo of a man praying next to a halal food cart in midtown Manhattan as an example of unexpected religion featured in the exhibit.

“The halal food carts began as a way of providing cheap halal food to Muslim communities working in different kinds of businesses,” she said. “Now it’s a gastronomic delight for all New Yorkers.”

Photographs displayed throughout the exhibit highlight how minority religious communities refuse to be boxed in by stereotypes. Photographed portraits by MIPSTERZ, a Muslim arts and culture collective, show Muslims grinning and striking poses in New York’s public landscape to reclaim the space. Portraits of New York-based Sikhs by Amit Amin and Naroop Jhooti celebrate people such as former NYC subway operator Sat Hari Singh. Singh, who saved 800 lives by reversing his train during 9/11, also successfully sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority after it required employees to brand their religious headgear with MTA logos. These images provide a counterpoint to reductionist narratives.

While majority religions have the luxury of blending into a cultural landscape, the exhibit suggests Sikh, Hindu and Muslim groups don’t have that privilege. The flattening and racialized profiling of these communities is captured in the installation “CURB,” a sprawling book of poems encased in glass and placed in the center of one of the exhibit’s two rooms.

The poems — shown here as part of a limited-edition illustrated book that expands several feet when opened — explore violence against South Asian Americans in U.S. public spaces and are presented alongside two short films inspired by the poems.

Poet Divya Victor, who was also an adviser on the exhibition, describes her poems as emerging from “the long wake of the Patriot Act,” the era of the Muslim registry and the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.

“I knew that poets and writers would need to begin paying special attention to surveillance, spectatorship, supremacist vigilance, and monetized public confession,” she told RNS. “I also knew that I needed to document the fear that my family members began to experience in public spaces with the rise of anti-immigrant and specifically anti-Asian acts.”

“City of Faith: Religion, Activism, and Urban Space” is now open at the Museum of the City of New York. RNS photo by Kathryn Post

Victor added that the poems, which are available in paperback, also reflect the resistance to “both white and Hindu supremacist forces” taking root in South Asian communities.

Though the exhibit largely focuses on moments of beauty and solidarity among South Asian communities, it doesn’t shy away from grappling with the fraught realities of anti-Blackness and the legacy of the caste system. South Asian artist Utsa Hazarika’s “Pilgrims/This Is Not That Dawn,” for instance, is a commissioned multimedia piece that explores the complex relationship between Black and South Asian communities in America.

Beneath a large, stylized image of a stamp from India depicting Martin Luther King Jr., museumgoers are invited to put on headphones and hear the soundtrack Hazarika designed. Listeners overhear Martin Luther King Jr. reflect on his encounter with the caste system during his 1959 trip to India and are reminded by comedian Hasan Minhaj of how the civil rights movement paved the way for the growth of South Asian communities in the U.S.

“The only reason so many of us are here is because of the Immigration Act of ’65. That law rode the wave of the Civil Rights Act of ’64,” Minhaj says in the soundtrack.   A Love Supreme (2022)” is a scent installation commissioned from perfumer and author Tanaïs, on display at the Museum of the City of New York. The piece is made of hand-braided Nepali lokta paper dipped in fragrant oils and filled with powdered incense. It is inspired by speculation that John Coltrane’s album “A Love Supreme” refers to the phrase “Allah Supreme.” RNS photo by Kathryn Post

“The exchanges between American civil rights activists and the anti-colonial movement in South Asia mark a period of internationalism that has largely fallen away from mainstream consciousness,” Hazarika told RNS in an email. “In the United States specifically, the potential of these movements has been obscured by both a loss of this internationalist history, and the racial structure within which South Asians have often tended towards a proximity to whiteness, rather than embracing their anti-colonial histories to oppose racialized violence.”

Other installations — such as the bold-colored portraits of South Asian American feminist activists by artist and South Asian Women’s Creative Collective founder Jaishri Abichandani — also uplift examples of South Asian activism both within and beyond cultural and religious circles.

Though New York is filled with the art, architecture, collective action and history of South Asian communities, this is the first exhibit at the century-old Museum of the City of New York to focus on them, according to Dawood. She hopes this exhibit, which closes in October, will prompt people to recognize the vibrant religious expressions of South Asian groups and to observe the subtle ways religion operates in the world around them.

“It is often really difficult to talk about religion. … I hope the exhibition shows how multilayered the conversation about religion is, and how much it’s a part of our landscape.”

People With High Emotional Intelligence Use 5 Simple Words To Become Exceptionally Persuasive

I think it’s worth the effort of a little bit of simple memorization.

Here’s a powerful strength I developed by solving a personal weakness.

First, the weakness: I can be a little impatient, maybe even a little bit lazy. I’ll follow through on my word, but sometimes my more complicated plans wind up abandoned.

But the powerful strength? It’s that I’ve developed radar for simple things you can do to improve your life.

Truly, the simpler the better, because I’ve learned that otherwise I’m not likely to do them.

Picture : Science of People

I think that’s part of why I’ve been so drawn to the concept of emotional intelligence, and especially to the idea that there are very simple things you can change about your behavior — as simple as memorizing a few basic words and concepts — to leverage emotions and increase the odds that you’ll achieve your goals.

For example, people with high emotional intelligence keep five simple words in mind when they hope to persuade someone else of something, because remembering them guides their verbal behavior.

It will all make more sense if we simply list the words and explain what they’re meant to symbolize, one by one.

They’re alliterative — starting with p, just like persuasion: prefacing, prioritizing, pausing, politeness, and phrasing. Here’s why they matter:

  1. Prefacing

Emotionally intelligent people become more persuasive by using a smart preface to whatever else they have to say.

If you want to persuade someone of anything — that they should buy your product, or go out with you on a date, or join your side of the jury and vote not guilty — you’re often best off starting out by being up front about what you’re going to say next.

Sometimes, you can be very direct: “I need you to show more interest at work, or I’m afraid you’ll risk losing your job. Here’s why … ”

But sometimes, you want to be more subtle:

“I have an idea I’d like to ask you to consider.”

“I noticed something about your performance today. Do you mind if I offer some advice?”

“I want to tell you a story; I hope you’re going to find it interesting — maybe even instructive.”

I’m sure you can appreciate the differences. The point is that you signal to the other person in a conversation that you’d like them to pay attention to what comes next, but you also work to signal that what you have to say is both useful and nonthreatening.

  1. Prioritizing

Emotionally intelligent people become more persuasive by organizing their arguments so that their most important points don’t get lost.

There’s an old saying that if you don’t know where you’re going, any route will take you there. People with high emotional intelligence basically try to do the opposite of that.

In short (and, “short” is usually a good thing in this context), if you can’t quickly explain the pillars of whatever position you want to advocate, you probably haven’t thought it through well enough. And the easiest and most tried and true method to prioritize is probably to use the Rule of 3.

We’re hardwired to look at things in groups of three: everything from the Christian Trinity, to children’s stories like the “Three Little Pigs,” to the three bullet-pointed quotes in the previous section of this article.

Sometimes you’ll want to announce the road map of your argument to the person you’re talking to; sometimes you won’t. But you’ll always want to have it mapped out in your head, so that you satisfy the other person’s hardwired emotional desire for conversational geometry.

  1. Pausing

Emotionally intelligent people become more persuasive by using pauses in conversation as a tool to trigger desired responses.

A decade ago, a Dutch psychologist named Namkje Koudenburg of the University of Groningen wrote about an experiment she’d done in which she calculated what happens when people pause for about four seconds in their conversations.

In short, that’s the point at which people start to feel emotional responses including, sometimes, fear and anxiety. So people with high emotional intelligence learn to leverage that knowledge.

Want to offer relief and comfort? Pause two seconds or less in your discussion.

Want to raise the possibility that the other person will feel more compelled to respond or engage to what you have to say — maybe sometimes even concede? Have the discipline to wait as many as four full seconds after making a point.

  1. Politeness

Emotionally intelligent people default toward politeness, and leverage it to avoid creating resistance where it doesn’t need to exist.

There’s a bagel shop within walking distance of my house. The bagels are good, the price isn’t too high, and my daughter used to like to go there with me when she was little. But just one time, the owner of the place was rude to me.

A few weeks later, I realized that while I hadn’t made a conscious decision to avoid the place, I simply hadn’t gone back. None of the practical reasons why it was a good place to buy bagels mattered anymore; the fact that I hadn’t been treated politely trumped everything.

Another example: A few years back, researchers published a study in MIS Quarterly showing that even when the substance of answers was identical, people responded better to answers that were also polite.

The point is that we all have these emotional reactions; emotionally intelligent people understand that you should only be impolite when you have a good, strategic reason for doing so. But the default is politeness.

  1. Phrasing

Emotionally intelligent people tend toward specific phrases that they’ve thought through so that they don’t accidentally trigger unintended emotions.

Truly, this is the simplest habit — symbolized by a single word. Think through the phrases you plan to use at different points in conversation ahead of time.

For example, imagine a situation in which you think someone else is just flat-out mistaken and stubborn. You plan that if this happens, you’ll want to respond with one of the following three phrases, depending on the reaction you hope to prompt:

“You’re flat out wrong.”

“I can’t understand how you could possibly think that.”

“Can you help me think this through and understand your position better?”

I can (and have) written entire articles about specific phrases and how they can spur positive or negative reactions. But before we move on, let’s talk about one other specific type of phrase.

These are the ones to have thought through for situations in which you realize that no matter how many tricks of emotional intelligence you try, you’re unlikely to persuade the other side. I’m thinking of responsive phrases like:

“Lots to think about here. Let’s pick it up at the next meeting.”

“Please, don’t make a decision now. Let me get the answers to the questions you posed.”

“It seems like we have a few issues to resolve. Why don’t I write up a draft on what we’ve agreed on, and we can go from there?”

Sometimes — not always, but sometimes — if you can’t seem to win, you might be better off making sure that the game hasn’t actually ended.

Look, as I write in my free e-book 9 Smart Habits of People With Very High Emotional Intelligence, increasing your emotional intelligence is a lot easier when you focus on things that are simple. Bonus points if helps you overcome a personal weakness like my impatience.

Donald Trump Is Indicted

A grand jury has reportedly indicted Donald Trump on criminal charges stemming from his role in a hush-money payoff to the porn star Stormy Daniels. This historic event is a tragedy for the American republic not because of what it has revealed about Trump, but because of what it is revealing about us as voters and citizens.

Picture : Forbes

Donald Trump is said to have been charged with crimes in New York. This is a good day for America, because it shows, in the most direct way possible, that no one in this country is above the law. Trump’s status as a former president has not shielded him from answering for his alleged crimes.

The indictment itself is shot through with tension, because Trump is, in fact, a former president and a current leading presidential candidate—which underscores the ghastly reality that no matter how much we learn about this crass sociopath, millions of people voted for him twice and are still hoping that he will return to power in the White House.

The Manhattan DA’s office wanted Trump to surrender on Friday, but Trump’s lawyers “rebuffed the request, saying that the Secret Service, which provides security detail for the former president, needed more time to prepare”, Politico reports, citing an unnamed source but saying the exchange was confirmed by Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina.

A grand jury in Manhattan voted Thursday to indict Donald Trump — the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges. The historic indictment comes in a case centered on $130,000 in payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels during the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels claimed she slept with the married Trump in 2006, a claim the former president has denied. Trump had classified his reimbursement of the payout as a legal expense.

A spokesperson for the DA’s office confirmed the indictment in a statement Thursday night. “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a [New York] Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” the spokesperson said. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”

Trump attorney Susan Necheles told NBC News that the former president, who lives in Florida, is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday. He is expected to surrender to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said earlier Thursday.

“President Trump has been indicted. He did not commit any crime. We will vigorously fight this political prosecution in Court,” Necheles and Tacopina said in a joint statement.

The tentative plan is for Trump to appear before acting Justice Juan Merchan after 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday for his felony arraignment, two officials familiar with the matter said. Merchan presided over the DA’s successful tax fraud prosecution of Trump’s company last year.

Trump blasted the news in a statement Thursday evening. “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history,” Trump said in a statement. “The Democrats have lied, cheated and stolen in their obsession with trying to ‘Get Trump,’ but now they’ve done the unthinkable — indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant Election Interference.”

Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing related to the probe and called the investigation by Democratic Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office a continuation of the partisan “witch hunt” against him. He’s also accused Bragg, who’s Black, of being a “racist.”

The decision is sure to send shockwaves across the country, pushing the American political system – which has never seen one of its ex-leaders confronted with criminal charges, let alone while running again for president – into uncharted waters.

Desantis May Beat Biden, Could Beat Trump By 2 Points In A Hypothetical 2024 Matchup

The polls do not bear well for President Joe Biden if he chooses to stand for reelection in 2024. Biden is locked in close hypothetical races with the two leading candidates for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week found Biden leading former President Trump in a hypothetical 2024 rematch, with Biden receiving 48 percent support and Trump getting 46 percent among registered voters.

In a hypothetical election between Biden and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), the other front-runner at the moment for the GOP nomination, Biden trails 46 percent to DeSantis’s 48 percent.

Picture : NBC

The poll found Trump leading DeSantis in a head-to-head Republican primary matchup, with the former president earning 52 percent support to DeSantis’s 42 percent.

Biden, Trump, and DeSantis all had similar favorability ratings among registered voters, as well. For Biden, 37 percent of respondents said they had a favorable view of the president, compared to 56 percent who had an unfavorable view.

Meanwhile for Trump, 36 percent had a favorable view, and 58 percent had an unfavorable view. And 36 percent had a favorable view of DeSantis, while 39 percent had an unfavorable view, and 24 percent said they did not know enough about the governor.

The poll surveyed 1,600 registered voters from March 23-27. It has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

The results reflect that Biden may be vulnerable in a reelection bid, with voters consistently concerned about his handling of the economy in particular. But it also underscores a persistent concern among Republicans, that Trump may be the one candidate who would lose to Biden in 2024.

Trump has already declared his candidacy for 2024, as has former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. DeSantis is widely expected to enter the race in the coming months, but he has not yet formally launched a bid.

And while Biden’s intention to run for a second term does not seem to be in significant doubt, the president thus far has only reiterated his “intention” to run for the White House again.

Both Parties Fail On The Economy, Crime, And Transgender Rights

(NPR) The economy continues to dominate as the most important issue facing the country, followed by preserving democracy, according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Democrats face vulnerabilities when it comes to the economy, crime and whether to ban TikTok, while Republicans risk overstepping on transgender rights and business practices, the survey found.

“The image of the Republican Party has gotten even more extreme than it was” before the 2020 election, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the survey. “If winning the election in 2024 is predicated on picking up some swing voters in the middle, they’re moving in the opposite direction.

“For the Democrats, as much as the progressive wing is allowing President Biden some freedom to move toward the middle, you look at the issues on the economy and crime, and he is not where he wants to be in tying down the middle, either.”

The survey of 1,327 adults, including 1,226 registered voters, was conducted March 20 through Thursday, March 23 via live telephone callers to cellphones and landlines, through online research panels and via text message in English and in Spanish. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, meaning results have a range of about 4 points lower or higher than the number reported.

The top issues facing the country

With inflation stubbornly high and interest rates increasing, there is plenty of economic uncertainty at the moment, and it remains the top issue for respondents in the survey — 31% said so, followed by preserving democracy (20%).

No other issue broke double-digits. Health care was third at 9%, then immigration and climate change at 8%. Crime, gun policy, abortion and education rounded out the topics people were asked about.

The policy priorities, as expected, are different by party — with Republicans and independents more focused on the economy and Democrats saying preserving democracy is tops, followed by the economy, health care and climate change.

Immigration and preserving democracy followed the economy for Republicans.

Biden struggles on the economy and crime

When it comes to the economy, Biden continues to get poor marks.

Just 38% approve of how he’s handling it, including just 28% of independents. The White House and Democratic strategists know Biden, who is expected to run for reelection, has to improve in how Americans view him on the economy in the next year and a half before the 2024 election.

Overall, Biden gets a 42% job approval rating. That’s about where it had been before his State of the Union address in February. An NPR survey that month, taken after Biden’s address, showed him getting a slight bounce. That appears to have receded.

On crime, Biden is particularly vulnerable. Just 35% approve of how he’s handling it, including just 27% of independents. There is a lack of approval across some key Democratic coalition groups, too, like nonwhites (37%) and people under 45 (34%).

Even though crime continues to not register as a top issue in polling, most people, by a 68%-to-31% margin, said it is a real threat to most communities and not an issue blown out of proportion by politicians as a way to win voters.

That includes 58% of Democrats and 7 in 10 independents. Notably, nonwhites, who are a pillar Democratic group, are among the most likely to say it’s a real threat. That’s in line with several core groups vital to former President Donald Trump’s political fortunes — whites without college degrees, white evangelical Christians and people who live in small towns.

Republicans have focused on increases in crime and brazen acts like smash-and-grabs and carjackings in big cities across the country.

Republicans vulnerable on transgender rights and business practices

Republican governors, legislatures and candidates across the country have focused on gender identity issues, something they see as a political wedge issue.

There is some evidence for that — 50% in the 2022 midterm exit polls, for example, said society’s values on gender identity and sexual orientation are changing for the worse.

And there has been an increase in support for criminalizing gender transition-related medical care for minors, from 28% in April of 2021 to 43% now. Almost two-thirds of Republicans support it.

But Republicans risk going too far. A majority, 54%, still oppose criminalizing this type of medical care, including 56% of independents.

There is also a big split between parents of children who are under 18 and those without kids — 59% of parents support criminalizing the practice, while 59% of people who aren’t parents are opposed.

What’s more, a majority of respondents said they oppose laws that would restrict drag shows or performances in their states. Earlier this month, Tennessee passed a bill to do just that, while in more than a dozen other states, there are GOP efforts afoot to do the same.

But the majority is not on their side — 58% oppose such laws. Republicans, on yet another issue, stand out against the majority, as 61% support these laws. Just a quarter of Democrats and fewer than 4 in 10 independents do.

It’s a similar story when it comes to socially conscious business practices.

Three-quarters said it would be more important to invest their money with companies that make money, but are also mindful of their business practices and impact on the environment and society, as opposed to investing in companies that make the most money regardless.

Even 63% of Republicans said they would rather invest with companies mindful of their impact on the environment and society. Many in the GOP have made ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) practices in companies bogey men.

Some Republicans blamed the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, for example, on these practices, when, in reality, the bank’s collapse was the result of bad investments, increased interest rates and depositors asking for their money back.

Younger people, in particular, believe in universal health care

Despite the patchwork health care system in this country, 83% said they believe that all Americans have a basic right to health care coverage. That includes 7 in 10 Republicans.

The disagreement comes in the intensity of that belief — and with who provides it.

Three-quarters of Democrats and 61% of independents strongly agree that health care is a basic right, while just a quarter of Republicans feel that way.

Americans want Congress to deal with the debt ceiling. How to do it is complicated

When asked if people think it’s the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, almost two-thirds say yes. That includes 9 in 10 Democrats, a majority (57%) of independents, but just a third of Republicans.

While “government” continues to be the brightest of dividing lines in this country, what also stands out on this question is the generational divide. Three-quarters of members of the Gen Z and Millennial generations say it’s the government’s responsibility, but just 60% of Gen Xers do, followed by 56% of Baby Boomers and 49% of the Silent/Greatest generation.

The finding is yet another example of younger Americans being more likely to want the government to step in on pocketbook issues, like raising taxes on the wealthy to help close the national debt and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The clock is ticking on TikTok, but there’s a risk for Biden

A majority of Americans support a ban on the popular social media app TikTok — 57% said so.

Three quarters said TikTok represents either a major or minor threat to national security. And it’s bipartisan — 7 in 10 Democrats and 8 in 10 Republicans see it the same way, though Republicans are more likely to see TikTok as a major threat.

Can US Ban Tik Tok?

Nearly two-and-a-half years after the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok in the United States if it didn’t divest from its Chinese owners, the Biden administration is now doing the same.

TikTok acknowledged this week that federal officials are demanding the app’s Chinese owners sell their stake in the social media platform, or risk facing a US ban of the app.

The new directive comes from the multiagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), following years of negotiations between TikTok and the government body. (CFIUS is the same group that previously forced a sale of LGBTQ dating app Grindr from Chinese ownership back in 2019.)

There’s a generational divide here, which is to be expected, considering younger Americans are more likely to use the app. Gen Z and Millennials, though they are split, are less likely to support a ban, and they are far less likely to see it as a national security threat.

Fifty-one percent of Gen Z/Millennials oppose banning TikTok, the most of any group, and just 27% see it as a major threat, the least of any group.

Biden has a precarious decision to make on TikTok. Ahead of his expected run for reelection, he has to balance whether to ban something the intelligence community clearly sees as a potential national security risk — or to finesse something less than a ban to stem the potential loss of support among a key voting demographic group that lives online.

Some in Washington have expressed concerns that the app could be infiltrated by the Chinese government to essentially spy on American users or gain access to US user data. Others have raised alarms over the possibility that the Chinese government could use the app to spread propaganda to a US audience. At the heart of both is an underlying concern that any company doing business in China ultimately falls under Chinese Communist Party laws.

Other concerns raised are not unique to TikTok, but more broadly about the potential for social media platforms to lead younger users down harmful rabbit holes.

Wait, didn’t all of this happen before?

If this latest development is giving you déjà vu, that’s because it echoes the saga TikTok already went through in the United States that kicked off in 2020, when the Trump administration first threatened it with a ban via executive order if it didn’t sell itself to a US-based company.

Oracle and Walmart were suggested as buyers, social media creators were in a frenzy, and TikTok kicked off a lengthy legal battle against the US government. Some critics at the time blasted then-president Donald Trump’s crusade against the app as political theater rooted in xenophobia, calling out Trump’s unusual suggestion that the United States should get a “cut” of any deal if it forced the app’s sale to an American firm.

Trump Warns Of ‘Potential Death And Destruction’ If He’s Charged With A Crime

Donald J. Trump has warned that “potential death and destruction” may result if, as expected, he is charged by the Manhattan district attorney in connection with hush-money payments to a porn star made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The comments from Trump, made between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on his social media site, Truth Social, were a stark escalation in his rhetorical attacks on the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, ahead of a likely indictment on charges that Trump said would be unfounded.

“What kind of person,” Trump wrote of Bragg, “can charge another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when it is known by all that NO crime has been committed, & also that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country? Why & who would do such a thing? Only a degenerate psychopath that truly hates the USA!” the former president wrote.

After years of facing investigation after investigation, former President Donald Trump says one of those probes will lead to his arrest. President Trump reported that he expects to be arrested, and has urged his supporters to launch mass protests. Trump claimed in a post on his social media platform that he would be arrested related to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

On Saturday last week, Trump wrote on his social networking site Truth Social that “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office “indicate” he would be arrested on Tuesday, March 21st. As part of the post, Trump also called on his supporters to protest.

His lawyer is reported to have said there had been no communication from law enforcement and the former president’s post was based on media reports. Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, said her team had not heard anything from law enforcement officials. The district attorney’s office has not yet commented. “Since this is a political prosecution, the district attorney’s office has engaged in a practice of leaking everything to the press, rather than communicating with President Trump’s attorneys as would be done in a normal case,” she said.

In a statement, a Trump spokesperson appeared to walk back the comments. The spokesperson said there is no notification the DA “has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level. President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system. He will be in Texas next weekend for a giant rally.”

This case focuses on alleged hush money paid on Trump’s behalf by his lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election. It is one of several cases in which the 76-year-old is currently being investigated, although he has not yet been charged in any and denies wrongdoing in each.

The Stormy Daniels case is about how Trump reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen after Cohen paid Ms Daniels $130,000. The record for the payment reimbursing Cohen says the payment was for “legal fees”. Prosecutors may say this amounts to Trump falsifying business records, a misdemeanor in New York.

Cohen has said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payouts were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the thick of his first presidential campaign.

Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for the $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which kept her story from coming to light.

The case of Stormy Daniels is one of several legal woes facing the former US President. Donald Trump faces a separate criminal investigation over efforts to overturn his narrow loss in the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election – though it is not known if the former president is being directly investigated.

The Department of Justice is also looking at whether classified government documents were handled incorrectly after Trump left office, as well as broader efforts to undermine the results of the presidential election three years ago – including the January 6th attack.

Meanwhile, Trump has pledged to continue his campaign to become the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election, even if he is indicted. Any indictment would create a complicated calculation for Trump’s rivals within the Republican Party, as they decide whether to up their attacks on the former president while he is potentially distracted or keep their heads down and hope for the best.

Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and ex-aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks, are among those reported to have given evidence so far. The Trump team has said the former president declined an invitation to appear, a sign the case is almost over, according to experts. Reports suggest one final witness could give evidence, possibly on Monday.

Once the investigation is complete, the grand jury votes on whether to recommend criminal charges. However, their verdict is not binding. Ultimately, it is up to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to determine what, if any, charges to bring. There is no deadline for this. It is a legal decision – what does he believe can he prove beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction – but also a deeply political one.

A former US president has never been indicted before but Trump’s lawyer said he would follow normal procedure. Typically, a defendant is either arrested or surrenders to the authorities – if they are facing a more serious felony charge they would be handcuffed. They then have their photo and fingerprints taken. After an initial hearing – called an arraignment – a defendant in a white-collar crime case like this is usually released until the next court date.

The Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, has hit out at the investigation, calling it “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA [district attorney]”. In a tweet, he also promised to investigate whether federal money was being used to interfere in elections “with politically motivated prosecutions”.

According to analysts, past efforts to investigate him, including two impeachment trials, the Russia investigation and the Mar-a-Lago raid, have tended to make him more popular with his base, so an indictment could have a similar effect.

Trump has a loyal base of followers, and the January 6th attack on the US Capitol by his supporters following his repeated calls to protest has proven that a fraught situation can quickly escalate into violence.

Trump denies the encounters occurred, says he did nothing wrong and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 presidential campaign. “Democrats have investigated and attacked President Trump since before he was elected — and they’ve failed every time,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement Thursday about the inquiry.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has apparently been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.

As per reports, prosecutors have been looking at a possible indictment of Trump. Reports say it could come next week. If he is indicted, it would be the first criminal case ever brought against a former US president. There has been no public announcement of any timeframe for the grand jury’s secret work, including any potential vote on whether to indict the ex-president.

Law enforcement officials in New York are making security preparations for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be indicted in the coming weeks and appear in a Manhattan courtroom in an investigation examining hush money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters with him, law enforcement officials have been quoted to have said.

US media organizations say law enforcement agencies in New York are preparing for the possibility of Trump being indicted and appearing in a Manhattan courtroom as early as next week. According to the Associated Press, they are considering the practicalities of taking a former president into court, including questions around security.

It is not yet known if he is going to be criminally charged this week or even, beyond broad strokes, what those charges might be. But with the former president predicting an arrest, and calling for mass protests, this is a journey into unknown territory.

Aramco, Saudi-Owned Oil Giant Sees Record Profit Of $161bn

Saudi oil giant Aramco has announced a record profit of $161.1bn (£134bn) for 2022, helped by soaring energy prices and bigger volumes. It represents a 46.5% rise for the state-owned company, compared with last year.

It is the latest energy firm to report record profits, after energy prices spiked following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

America’s ExxonMobil made $55.7bn, and Britain’s Shell reported $39.9bn. Aramco also declared a dividend of $19.5bn for the October to December quarter of 2022, to be paid in the first quarter of this year.

Most of that will go to the Saudi government, which owns nearly 95% of the shares in the company. Brent crude oil, the benchmark oil price, now trades at around $82 a barrel – though prices exceeded $120 a barrel last March, after Russia’s invasion, and June.

“Aramco rode the wave of high energy prices in 2022,” said Robert Mogielnicki of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “It would have been difficult for Aramco not to perform strongly in 2022.”

In a statement on Sunday, Aramco said the company results were “underpinned by stronger crude oil prices, higher volumes sold and improved margins for refined products”.

Aramco’s president and CEO Amin Nasser said: “Given that we anticipate oil and gas will remain essential for the foreseeable future, the risks of underinvestment in our industry are real – including contributing to higher energy prices.”

To address those challenges, he said, the company would not only focus on expanding oil, gas and chemicals production – but also invest in new lower-carbon technologies.

Aramco – the world’s second-most valuable company only behind America’s Apple – is a major emitter of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Responding to Aramco’s announcement, Amnesty International’s secretary general Agnès Callamard said: “It is shocking for a company to make a profit of more than $161bn in a single year through the sale of fossil fuel – the single largest driver of the climate crisis.”

She added: “It is all the more shocking because this surplus was amassed during a global cost-of-living crisis and aided by the increase in energy prices resulting from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

Saudi Arabia is the largest producer in the oil cartel OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries). The Gulf kingdom has been condemned for a range of human rights abuses: its involvement in the conflict in neighboring Yemen, the murder in 2018 of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, for jailing dissidents, and for the widespread use of capital punishment.

In a separate development on Sunday, Iran said its oil exports had reached their highest level since the re-imposition of US sanctions in 2018. Oil Minister Javad Owji said exports increased by 83 million barrels in 2022 compared with the previous 12 months. In Iran, a new year starts in March.

Analysts say the rise is due to greater shipments to Iranian allies China and Venezuela. Tehran’s export revenues took a significant hit after then-US President Donald Trump pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal five years ago.

The US sanctions, coupled with economic mismanagement and corruption, have meant that the Iranian economy has not had any substantive growth in the past decade. And by some measures, it is still 4-8% smaller than it was back in 2010.

Biden’s $5 Trillion Tax Gambit Catches Congress By Surprise

President Biden went big in his $6.8 trillion annual budget proposal to Congress by calling for $5 trillion in tax increases over the next decade, more than what lawmakers expected after the president downplayed his tax agenda in earlier meetings.  It’s a risky move for the president as he heads into a tough reelection campaign in 2024.

Senate Democrats will have to defend 23 seats next year, including in Republican-leaning states such as Ohio, Montana and West Virginia, and Americans are concerned about inflation and the direction of the economy.

Republicans say Biden’s budget plan marks the return of tax-and-spend liberal politics; they warn higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy will hurt the economy.  Biden, however, thinks he can win the debate by pledging that he won’t raise taxes on anyone who earns less than $400,000 a year.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, called Biden’s ambitious tax plan “jaw-dropping.”

“This is exactly the wrong approach to solving our fiscal problems,” he said of the $5 trillion aggregate total of proposed tax hikes. “I think this sets a new record, by far.”

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, a group that advocates for lower taxes, said “in dollar terms, it’s the largest tax increase in American history.”

A surprise and a ‘negotiating position’

Many lawmakers were expecting Biden to propose between $2 trillion and $2.5 trillion in tax increases, based on what he said in his State of the Union address on Feb. 7 and on what media outlets reported in the days before the White House unveiled its budget plan.

The $5 trillion in new tax revenues is more than what the president called for last year, when Democrats controlled the House and Senate.

In October of 2021, when Biden was trying to nail down a deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on the Build Back Better agenda, he proposed a more modest $2 trillion in tax increases.

The headline number even surprised some Democratic policy experts, though they agree the federal government needs to collect more revenue.

“I didn’t expect to see a number that big, but I’m not alarmed by it. I think it’s a negotiating position,” said Jim Kessler, the executive vice president for policy at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank.

Biden told lawmakers at his State of the Union address that his budget plan would lower the deficit by $2 trillion and that he would “pay for the ideas I’ve talked about tonight by making the wealthy and big corporations begin to pay their fair share.”

The president then surprised lawmakers with a budget proposal to cut $3 trillion from deficit over the next decade and to do it almost entirely by raising tax revenues.

Biden has called for a 25 percent tax on the nation’s wealthiest 0.01 percent of families. He has proposed raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent and the top marginal income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. He wants to quadruple the 1 percent tax on stock buybacks. He has proposed taxing capital gains at 39.6 percent for people with income of more than $1 million.

Kessler noted that Biden’s budget doesn’t include significant spending cuts nor does it reform Social Security, despite Biden’s pledge during the 2020 election to reduce the program’s imbalance.  Kessler defended the president’s strategy of focusing instead on taxing wealthy individuals and corporations.

“The amount of unrealized wealth that people have at the top dwarfs anything that we’ve ever seen in the past,” he said.  “These are opening bids” ahead of the negotiations between Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to raise the debt limit.

Senate Republicans are trying to chip away at Biden’s argument that his tax policy will only hit wealthy individuals and companies. “It’s probably not good for the economy. Last time I checked, most tax increases on the business side are passed on to consumers, and I think we need to control spending more than adding $5 trillion in new taxes,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

Norquist, the conservative anti-tax activist, warned that if enacted, raising the corporate tax rate would reverberate throughout the economy.  “The corporate income tax, 70 percent of that is paid by workers and lower wages,” he said.

He said raising the top marginal tax rate and capital gains tax rate would hit small businesses that file under subchapter S of the tax code. “When you raise the top individual rate, you’re raising taxes on millions of smaller businesses in the United States,” he said. “Their employees end up paying that because that’s money they don’t have in the business anymore.”

How does Biden compare to predecessors?

Norquist noted that Obama and Clinton both cut taxes during their administrations, citing Clinton’s role in cutting the capital gains rate and Obama’s role in making many of the Bush-era tax cuts permanent.  “Both of them ran a more moderate campaign. This guy is going Bernie Sanders,” he said of Biden, comparing him to the liberal independent senator from Vermont.

Biden’s budget is a significant departure from the approach then-President Obama took 12 years ago, when he also faced a standoff with a GOP-controlled House over the debt.

In his first year working with a House GOP majority, Obama in his fiscal 2012 budget proposed cutting the deficit by $1.1 trillion, of which he said two-thirds should come from spending cuts and one-third from tax increases.  Obama later ramped up his proposal in the fall of 2011 by floating a plan to cut the deficit by $3.6 trillion over a decade and raise taxes by $1.6 trillion during that span.

Concerning for some Democrats

Republican strategists say they’ll use Biden’s proposed tax increases as ammunition against Democratic incumbents up for reelection next year.  National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines (Mont.) said Biden’s budget provides “a contrast” ahead of the election.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who faces a tough re-election in a state that former President Trump with 57 percent of the vote, said he’s leery about trillions of dollars in new taxes.

Asked last week if he’s worried about how Montanans might react to Biden’s proposed tax increases, Tester replied: “For sure. I got to make sure that will work. I just got to see what he’s doing.”

McCaul says Jan. 6 tapes not going to show ‘tourism at the Capitol’  Porter on Silicon Valley Bank collapse: ‘You can’t bet on’ interest rates staying low forever

Manchin, who is up for reelection in another red state, has called on his fellow Democrats to focus more on how the federal budget has swelled from $3.8 trillion in 2013 to $6.7 trillion today.

“Can we just see if we can go back to normal? Where were we before COVID? What was our trajectory before that?” he asked in a CNN interview Thursday.   “How did it grow so quickly? How do we have so many things that are so necessary that weren’t before?” he said of the federal budget and debt.

The White House branded the House Freedom Caucus’ deficit plan as “tax breaks for the super wealthy and wasteful spending for special interests,” as the two sides continued to trade jabs amid an escalating debt ceiling battle.

“MAGA House Republicans are proposing, if spread evenly across affected discretionary programs, at least a 20 [percent] across the board cut,” White House Communications Director Ben LaBolt said in an initial analysis of the proposal.

LaBolt pointed to several typically Republican issue areas that would be impacted by such cuts, including law enforcement, border security, education and manufacturing.

“The one thing MAGA Republicans do want to protect are tax cuts for the super-wealthy,” he added. “This means that their plan, with all of the sacrifices they are asking of working-class Americans, will reduce the deficit by…$0.”

The Freedom Caucus on Friday unveiled its initial spending demands for a possible debt ceiling increase, as the potential for default looms this summer. The proposal would cap discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels for 10 years, resulting in a $131 billion cut from current levels. Defense spending would be maintained at current levels.

LaBolt claimed that the proposal would also defund police and make the border less secure, turning around two accusations that Republicans have frequently lobbed at the Biden administration.

Such spending cuts would, according to LaBolt’s analysis, eliminate funding for 400 state, local and tribal police officers and several thousand FBI agents and personnel and “deny the men and women of Customs and Border Protection the resources they need to secure our borders.”

He also criticized the Freedom Caucus’s calls to end President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan and to rescind unspent COVID-19 and Inflation Reduction Act funds, claiming they would increase prescription drug and energy costs and ship manufacturing jobs overseas.

The analysis also accused the group of hard-line conservatives of making plans that would actually increase the federal deficit by $114 billion, and allow “the wealthy and big corporations to continue to cheat on their taxes.” Biden’s $6.8 trillion budget released on Thursday included tax hikes on the wealthy.

LaBolt’s 20 percent number represents a slight adjustment from Biden’s claim on Friday that the plan would require a 25 percent cut in discretionary spending across the board.

“If what they say they mean, they’re going to keep the tax cuts from the last president … no additional taxes on the wealthy — matter of fact reducing taxes — and in addition to that, on top of that, they’re going to say we have to cut 25 percent of every program across the broad,” Biden said during remarks on the economy. “I don’t know what there’s much to negotiate on.”

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Scott Perry (R-Pa.) hit back at the president on Friday, accusing him of misrepresenting their proposal. “For him to mention things like firefighters, police officers and health care — obviously, either he didn’t watch the press conference, he can’t read, or someone is, you know, got their hand up his back and they’re speaking for him, because those are just abject lies,” Perry told The Hill. “It’s the same old, you know, smear-and-fear campaign by the Biden administration.” (Courtesy: CNN)

Trump Claims, He Will Be Arrested; Urges His Supporters To Protest

After years of facing investigation after investigation, former President Donald Trump says one of those probes will lead to his arrest. President Trump reported that he expects to be arrested, and has urged his supporters to launch mass protests. Trump claimed in a post on his social media platform that he would be arrested related to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

On Saturday last week, Trump wrote on his social networking site Truth Social that “illegal leaks” from the Manhattan district attorney’s office “indicate” he would be arrested on Tuesday, March 21st. As part of the post, Trump also called on his supporters to protest.

His lawyer is reported to have said there had been no communication from law enforcement and the former president’s post was based on media reports. Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, said her team had not heard anything from law enforcement officials. The district attorney’s office has not yet commented. “Since this is a political prosecution, the district attorney’s office has engaged in a practice of leaking everything to the press, rather than communicating with President Trump’s attorneys as would be done in a normal case,” she said.

In a statement, a Trump spokesperson appeared to walk back the comments. The spokesperson said there is no notification the DA “has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level. President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system. He will be in Texas next weekend for a giant rally.”

This case focuses on alleged hush money paid on Trump’s behalf by his lawyer to porn star Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 presidential election. It is one of several cases in which the 76-year-old is currently being investigated, although he has not yet been charged in any and denies wrongdoing in each.

The Stormy Daniels case is about how Trump reimbursed his lawyer Michael Cohen after Cohen paid Ms Daniels $130,000. The record for the payment reimbursing Cohen says the payment was for “legal fees”. Prosecutors may say this amounts to Trump falsifying business records, a misdemeanor in New York.

Cohen has said that at Trump’s direction, he arranged payments totaling $280,000 to porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. According to Cohen, the payouts were to buy their silence about Trump, who was then in the thick of his first presidential campaign.

Cohen and federal prosecutors said the company paid him $420,000 to reimburse him for the $130,000 payment to Daniels and to cover bonuses and other supposed expenses. The company classified those payments internally as legal expenses. The $150,000 payment to McDougal was made by the then-publisher of the supermarket tabloid National Enquirer, which kept her story from coming to light.

The case of Stormy Daniels is one of several legal woes facing the former US President. Donald Trump faces a separate criminal investigation over efforts to overturn his narrow loss in the state of Georgia in the 2020 presidential election – though it is not known if the former president is being directly investigated.

The Department of Justice is also looking at whether classified government documents were handled incorrectly after Trump left office, as well as broader efforts to undermine the results of the presidential election three years ago – including the January 6th attack.

Meanwhile, Trump has pledged to continue his campaign to become the Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election, even if he is indicted. Any indictment would create a complicated calculation for Trump’s rivals within the Republican Party, as they decide whether to up their attacks on the former president while he is potentially distracted or keep their heads down and hope for the best.

Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and ex-aides Kellyanne Conway and Hope Hicks, are among those reported to have given evidence so far. The Trump team has said the former president declined an invitation to appear, a sign the case is almost over, according to experts. Reports suggest one final witness could give evidence, possibly on Monday.

Once the investigation is complete, the grand jury votes on whether to recommend criminal charges. However, their verdict is not binding. Ultimately, it is up to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to determine what, if any, charges to bring. There is no deadline for this. It is a legal decision – what does he believe can he prove beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction – but also a deeply political one.

A former US president has never been indicted before but Trump’s lawyer said he would follow normal procedure. Typically, a defendant is either arrested or surrenders to the authorities – if they are facing a more serious felony charge they would be handcuffed. They then have their photo and fingerprints taken. After an initial hearing – called an arraignment – a defendant in a white-collar crime case like this is usually released until the next court date.

The Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, has hit out at the investigation, calling it “an outrageous abuse of power by a radical DA [district attorney]”. In a tweet, he also promised to investigate whether federal money was being used to interfere in elections “with politically motivated prosecutions”.

According to analysts, past efforts to investigate him, including two impeachment trials, the Russia investigation and the Mar-a-Lago raid, have tended to make him more popular with his base, so an indictment could have a similar effect.

Trump has a loyal base of followers, and the January 6th attack on the US Capitol by his supporters following his repeated calls to protest has proven that a fraught situation can quickly escalate into violence.

Trump denies the encounters occurred, says he did nothing wrong and has cast the investigation as a “witch hunt” by a Democratic prosecutor bent on sabotaging the Republican’s 2024 presidential campaign.  “Democrats have investigated and attacked President Trump since before he was elected — and they’ve failed every time,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in a statement Thursday about the inquiry.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has apparently been examining whether any state laws were broken in connection with the payments or the way Trump’s company compensated Cohen for his work to keep the women’s allegations quiet.

As per reports, prosecutors have been looking at a possible indictment of Trump. Reports say it could come next week. If he is indicted, it would be the first criminal case ever brought against a former US president. There has been no public announcement of any timeframe for the grand jury’s secret work, including any potential vote on whether to indict the ex-president.

Law enforcement officials in New York are making security preparations for the possibility that former President Donald Trump could be indicted in the coming weeks and appear in a Manhattan courtroom in an investigation examining hush money paid to women who alleged sexual encounters with him, law enforcement officials have been quoted to have said.

US media organizations say law enforcement agencies in New York are preparing for the possibility of Trump being indicted and appearing in a Manhattan courtroom as early as next week. According to the Associated Press, they are considering the practicalities of taking a former president into court, including questions around security.

It is not yet known if he is going to be criminally charged this week or even, beyond broad strokes, what those charges might be. But with the former president predicting an arrest, and calling for mass protests, this is a journey into unknown territory.

Trump May Be Sued For Jan. 6 Riots On Capitol

(AP) — Former President Donald Trump can be sued by injured Capitol Police officers and Democratic lawmakers over the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, the Justice Department said Thursday in a federal court case testing Trump’s legal vulnerability for his speech before the riot.

The Justice Department told a Washington federal appeals court in a legal filing that it should allow the lawsuits to move forward, rejecting Trump’s argument that he is immune from the claims.

The department said it takes no position on the lawsuits’ claims that the former president’s words incited the attack on the Capitol. Nevertheless, Justice lawyers told the court that a president would not be protected by “absolute immunity” if his words were found to have been an “incitement of imminent private violence.”

“As the Nation’s leader and head of state, the President has ‘an extraordinary power to speak to his fellow citizens and on their behalf,’ they wrote. “But that traditional function is one of public communication and persuasion, not incitement of imminent private violence.”

Picture : Yahoo

The brief was filed by lawyers of the Justice Department’s Civil Division and has no bearing on a separate criminal investigation by a department special counsel into whether Trump can be criminally charged over efforts to undo President Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election ahead of the Capitol riot. In fact, the lawyers note that they are not taking a position with respect to potential criminal liability for Trump or anyone else.

Trump’s lawyers have argued he was acting within the bounds of his official duties and had no intention to spark violence when he called on thousands of supporters to “march to the Capitol” and “fight like hell” before the riot erupted.

“The actions of rioters do not strip President Trump of immunity,” his lawyers wrote in court papers. “In the run-up to January 6th and on the day itself, President Trump was acting well within the scope of ordinary presidential action when he engaged in open discussion and debate about the integrity of the 2020 election.”

A Trump spokesperson said Thursday that the president “repeatedly called for peace, patriotism, and respect for our men and women of law enforcement” on Jan. 6 and that the courts “should rule in favor of President Trump in short order and dismiss these frivolous lawsuits.”

The case is among many legal woes facing Trump as he mounts another bid for the White House in 2024.   A prosecutor in Georgia has been investigating whether Trump and his allies broke the law as they tried to overturn his election defeat in that state. Trump is also under federal criminal investigation over top secret documents found at his Florida estate.

In the separate investigation into Trump and his allies’ efforts to keep the Republican president in power, special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former Vice President Mike Pence, who has said he will fight the subpoena.

Trump is appealing a decision by a federal judge in Washington, who last year rejected efforts by the former president to toss out the conspiracy civil lawsuits filed by the lawmakers and police officers. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta ruled that Trump’s words during a rally before the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol were likely “words of incitement not protected by the First Amendment.”

“Only in the most extraordinary circumstances could a court not recognize that the First Amendment protects a President’s speech,” Mehta wrote in his February 2022 ruling. “But the court believes this is that case.”

One of the lawsuits, filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., alleges that “Trump directly incited the violence at the Capitol that followed and then watched approvingly as the building was overrun.” Two other lawsuits were also filed, one by other House Democrats and another by officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby.

The House Democrats’ lawsuit cites a federal civil rights law that was enacted to counter the Ku Klux Klan’s intimidation of officials. The cases describe in detail how Trump and others spread baseless claims of election fraud, both before and after the 2020 presidential election was declared, and charge that they helped to rile up the thousands of rioters before they stormed the Capitol.

The lawsuits seek damages for the physical and emotional injuries the plaintiffs sustained during the insurrection. Even if the appeals court agrees that Trump can be sued, those who brought the lawsuit still face an uphill battle. They would need to show there was more than fiery rhetoric, but a direct and intentional call for imminent violence, said Laurie Levenson, a Loyola Law School professor and former federal prosecutor.

“We are really far away from knowing that even if the court allows the lawsuit to go forward whether they would be successful,” she said. “Even if the court says hypothetically you can bring an action against a president, I think they’re likely to draw a line that is very generous to the president’s protected conduct.”

In its filing, the Justice Department cautioned that the “court must take care not to adopt rules that would unduly chill legitimate presidential communication” or saddle a president with burdensome and intrusive lawsuits.

“In exercising their traditional communicative functions, Presidents routinely address controversial issues that are the subject of passionate feelings,” the department wrote. “Presidents may at times use strong rhetoric. And some who hear that rhetoric may overreact, or even respond with violence.”

America’s Younger Voters Are Poised To Upend American Politics

Political scientists and forward-looking politicians have been debating the ultimate impact of the two youngest American generations — Plurals (Gen Z) and Millennials — on the nation’s partisan future for some time. With these two generations scheduled to become a majority of the American electorate later this decade, election results and a spate of recent data from Pew research are providing an increasingly persuasive answer. Younger voters should be a source of electoral strength for Democrats for some years to come.

Let’s start with the simple fact that, as Figure 1 illustrates, the Millennial generation is the largest generation in America today and the largest in American history.


Population of Current U.S. Generations As Figure 2 illustrates, Millennials and some of their younger siblings, will be a majority of the electorate in just six years.


Millennials and Plurals Will Be a Majority of Potential Voters by 2028 — Over Sixty Percent by 2036 Research on individual voting behavior over time supports the idea that early partisan predilections persist over an individual’s life span. Republicans need to take steps now to reverse these trends among young people before they become an unbreakable barrier to GOP electoral success and Democrats need to focus on Plurals and Millennials in the years ahead to take advantage of the opportunity that this emerging majority presents.[1]

Younger Americans are tilting the electoral playing field strongly towards the Democrats and making it very likely that the “over/under” line in American politics will be 45, if not 50, for at least the rest of this decade.

For instance, the results of the 2022 midterm elections surprised many who didn’t believe the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) surveys that showed young people were very enthusiastic about voting in the 2022 midterms. Their influence enabled the Democrats to win almost every battleground statewide contest and increase their majority in the U.S. Senate, as illustrated in Figures 3 and 4.


The 2022 Democratic Advantage Among Young Voters in Battleground States Allowed the Democrats to Recapture Senate Control The 2022 Democratic Advantage Among Young Voters in Battleground States Allowed the Democrats to Recapture Senate ControlAnd even though the Democrats failed to retain their majority in the House of Representatives, the preference for Democratic candidates among members of the Pluralist and Millennial generations limited the size of the new Republican majority to just five votes.


America’s Youngest Generations Voted Overwhelmingly Democratic for Congress in the 2022 Midterm Elections

What should be of even greater concern to Republicans is that this Democratic advantage, at least in the 2022 midterm election, was particularly strong among African American and Hispanic voters under the age of 45. Moreover, despite Republican efforts to make inroads in these communities and a large Republican vote among Hispanics in places like Florida, young minority voters supported Democrats by substantial margins. Eighteen to 29-year-old white voters also supported Democratic congressional candidates over Republican ones by a 58% to 40% margin, validating IOPs pre-election predictions as shown in Figure 5.


The Democratic Advantage Among Young Voters Is True Among Key Racial and Ethnic Groups  

Although the impact of Millennials’ and Plurals’ preferences for Democratic candidates among racial and ethnic voters varies based on congressional district lines and the nature of each’s state’s population, when it comes to voters under 45, and particularly among female voters of that age, their presence can be felt in every precinct in the country. See Figure 6.


Young Female Voters Voted Overwhelmingly for Democrats in 2022 Linear projections of past trends are never definitive, especially in politics, and one election does not a trend make. But young people have now been voting solidly Democratic, and in increasing numbers, in every election since Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. In the 2018 midterm election, more than two-thirds (68%) of voters under 45 cast ballots for Democratic congressional nominees and in 2020, 58% voted for President Biden.

The rising importance of the Millennial and Pluralist generation brings with it three challenges Republicans will need to deal with if they want to win national elections in the future.

First, younger voters overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party’s positions on issues like abortion and inclusion that Republicans have traditionally opposed. Even worse for the GOP’s future, a majority of younger Republican voters are closer to the Democratic Party’s positions on these cultural issues than they are to their own party’s posture. However, the Republican generational gap is not significant on economic issues. To take advantage of this potential opening with younger voters, the Republican Party would have to reverse their current emphasis on “wokeness” and pound away on the country’s economic unease instead. See Figure 7.[2]


Younger and Older Republicans Diverge Significantly on Social Issues, Democrats Broadly United Second, this divide by age on social issues within the Republican electorate is accompanied by a shrinking gender gap among younger voters, further unifying Democrats and making it harder for machismo-type Republican candidates to expand their appeal. Fifty-five percent of white male voters under 45 voted Democratic in 2022, as did 52% of younger white females. As Figure 8 illustrates, upwards of nine in ten male and female African American voters under 45 also voted Democratic in the midterms. Among both male and female Hispanics under 45, two-thirds voted for Democratic congressional candidates. To the extent that a gender gap still exists, in 2022 it is centered among older white and Hispanic voters. As Plural and Millennial voters become a larger and larger part of the American electorate, the gender gap in American politics is likely to shrink faster than the ozone layer.


Democratic Advantage Among Plural and Millennial Voters Spread to All Racial and Ethnic Groups With Minimal Gender GapIf those two challenges weren’t enough to deal with, Republicans reliance on broadcast media, such as Fox News and talk radio, means their message isn’t even being heard by Plurals and Millennials who live in an entirely different information ecosystem, built around social media, especially TikTok and YouTube.[3] Figure 9 shows how different younger voters are when it comes to trust in media.


Reaching Younger Voters Requires Using Social Media (Plurals and Millennials Prefer To Use Digital To Get News and Trust It More as a News Source) Of course, the Democratic party is not without its own challenges in adapting their strategies to an electorate dominated by younger voters. Older, embedded media commentators, pollsters, and campaign consultants, who make up the Democratic “permanent campaign complex,” are often slow to learn new tricks and less familiar with how to communicate with younger voters using their preferred platforms to talk about their policy priorities. For example, even in 2022, Democratic candidates for Senate in swing states such as Colorado and Ohio, recoiled in horror from President Biden’s proposal to forgive a portion of the two generations’ student debts, even though one of younger voters’ top priorities is making college more affordable, if not tuition free — ranking right up there with preserving reproductive rights and dealing with climate change.

If Democrats don’t run campaigns that focus on voters under 45, wherever they live and whatever their current political preferences, they could not only lose their chance for a sweeping victory in 2024 but potentially lose the allegiance of the large and growing majority of American voters for decades to come.

Temperatures Are Trending Upward

A tweet shared by thousands by Steve Milloy, founder of Junk Science and former member of the EPA transition team under the Trump Administration, says, “Zero US warming in 18 years, per US Climate Reference Network temp stations. That’s no US warming despite 30% of total manmade CO2.”

This claim is similar to ones in the past where skeptics of human-caused climate change cherry-pick data (using a fraction of the data to prop up claims that are false globally) to suit their ideology. It is simply false to claim that data from the Climate Reference Network show no warming over the last 18 years. There is a warming trend. Even if it was true, the US represents only 1.9 % of the Earth’s surface. It’s hard to extrapolate much about global temperature change from an 18-year period in 2% of the globe.

Picture : TheUNN

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), nine of the top 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous 48 states have occurred since 1998, and 2012 and 2016 were the two warmest years on record. Some parts of the United States have experienced more warming than others. According to NOAA, the North, the West, and Alaska have seen temperatures increase the most, while some parts of the Southeast have experienced little change. This warming trend is consistent with the long-term trend of global warming, primarily driven by human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Chris Cappa, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Davis has this to say…

As usual, Steve Milloy is contributing to a disinformation campaign about the reality and seriousness of climate change through selective cherry picking of information. He conveniently ignores the undeniable global trend in surface temperatures to mention only the continental US, which is only 2% of the total Earth surface area. He misleads the public here by spinning a tale that is the equivalent of someone living in Chicago and saying they don’t believe that hurricanes are real because they’ve never seen one. Milloy peddles this same nonsense year after year and refuses to engage with the actual science.

The Coming Of Age Of Indian Americans

“Despite constituting less than 1% of the U.S. population, Indian-Americans are 3% of the nation’s engineers, 7% of its IT workers and 8% of its physicians and surgeons,” wrote the popular Forbes magazine in 2008. “The overrepresentation of Indians in these fields is striking–in practical terms, your doctor is nine times more likely to be an Indian-American than is a random passerby on the street.”

Fifteen years later, in 2023, the story of the Indian Americans has grown even stronger; their successes encompassing almost all areas of American life – living  the American Dream.  The less than four million Indian Americans appear to be gaining prominence and have come to be recognized as a force to reckon with in this land of opportunities that they have come to call as their adopted homeland.

Picture : TheUNN

In fact, Indian Americans have for some time been considered a “model minority” in the US — they are better educated, have better jobs, are wealthier than many other immigrant populations and enjoy both political and business clout. Here’s data that points to these factors:

At a virtual interaction with Nasa scientists who were involved in the historic landing of Perseverance on Mars on March 3, US President Joe Biden remarked, “Indian-of-descent Americans (sic) are taking over the country. You (Swati Mohan), my Vice President (Kamala Harris), my speech writer (Vinay Reddy).”

Biden, who was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, is in a good place to judge that. He has created history by appointing at least 55 Indian-of-descent Americans to key positions in his administration. And of course, his vice- president, Kamala Harris, is also an American of Indian-descent.

The rise of Kamala Harris, daughter of an Indian mother, as the Vice President represents a coming-of-age of the Indian American community in the United States. Harris was born to civil rights activist parents a year before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed; this Act relaxed the quota regime that restricted foreigners. At that time, there was one Indian American lawmaker in the US House of Representatives — the Punjab-born Dalip Singh Saund, also from California.

The Senate India Caucus was created in 2004. Harris was elected to the US Senate in 2016. The following year, four Indian Americans were elected to the US House of Representatives, and more were elected to the Senate and Congress of other states. Two other persons of Indian origin — Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley — served as Governors of Louisiana and South Carolina, respectively, in that period.

In 2022, there are as many as five persons of Indian Origin have been elected to the House of Representatives:  Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ro Khanna, Dr Ami Bera, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and Shri Thanedar, a Karnataka-born entrepreneur – have been re-elected to the US House of Representatives

Today, more Indian Americans hold public office than ever before. However, politics is far from being the only sphere in which the Indian diaspora has gained influence in the last few decades.

Historically, Indians in the US worked in medicine, science & technology, engineering and mathematics-related jobs. Some, like the Patel community from Gujarat, took to the hotel industry and grew to dominate it. Others were entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley after the digital revolution of the 1980s.

In 1997, Ramani Ayer became the CEO of the Fortune 500 financial firm The Hartford, becoming the first in the list of Indian leaders heading American businesses.

At present, 2% of the Fortune 500 companies of American origin — including Microsoft, Alphabet, Adobe, IBM, and MasterCard — are led by Indian American CEOs. One in every seven doctors in America is of Indian descent;

Numbering about 3.8 million, or about 1.2 per cent of the US population, the Indian diaspora in the US is the richest, most educated and among the most successful ethnic groups in that country – pulling ahead of even white Americans on most counts. More than 75 per cent of Indian Americans have arrived in the US after 1990.

Picture : Quora

Looking ahead to the 2024 Presidential Elections, there are as many as three of them are seeking their way to be on the ballot. Two of the three Republicans who have announced plans so far to enter the US presidential race are Indian-Americans. While Nikki Haley is a familiar name, surprise candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is much less well known. If President Biden seeks reelection, the current Vice President, Harris is likely ot be on the ballot as his running mate in 2024.

Ramaswamy, a multimillionaire entrepreneur and author of the book Woke, Inc., announced his presidential bid on 21 February with an appearance on a Fox News show and a video laying out his political views. He wants to launch a “cultural movement to create a new American dream” based on the “pursuit of excellence” – and he says “diversity is meaningless if there’s nothing greater that binds” people.  The 37-year-old, who was born in Ohio, studied at Harvard and Yale, earned his millions as a biotechnology entrepreneur and then founded an asset management firm.

Democrat Shekar Narasimhan, founder and chairman of the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Victory Fund, says that while he is happy to see more Asian-Americans gain prominence in politics, he isn’t confident about Mr Ramaswamy’s ideas.

“He is a business guy and has a clean slate, but what are his promises?” Mr Narasimhan asks. “Does he care about medical care for the elderly? What are his plans for infrastructure spending? He doesn’t have fixed positions and has not articulated his policies yet.”

Indian-American Republicans are predicting a “three-way race between Mr Trump, Mr DeSantis and Ms Haley” and prefer to wait instead of forging early alliances, especially as there is still uncertainty around the former president’s legal battles.

Dr. Sampat Shivangi says that he admires Ms Haley’s aggressive campaigning style and would support her in case Mr Trump is forced to withdraw from the race. “Mr Trump has 40% ratings and Ms Haley is in single digits, but she is our candidate. Her being Indian-American is the main reason why we are close to her,” he says.

Irrespective of political differences, the Indian-American community is happy about the sharp increase in their political participation, especially over the last three election cycles, and is proud of the rise of another of their own.

“A beautiful thing is happening: Indian-Americans are coming to the forefront,” Mr Gaekwad says, adding that the latest bid could encourage more Indian-Americans to run for elections even at the local level.  Even political opponents agree with that.  “If our children see Americans with a name like Ramaswamy run, and a Khanna or Krishnamoorthi can win, that’s a good thing,” Narasimhan says.

Nikki Haley Wants To Block US Aid To Countries ‘That Hate Us’

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley vowed on Friday to strip U.S. aid for countries that she said “hate us” if elected president.  Haley said in an op-ed in The New York Post that taxpayers deserve to know where U.S. foreign aid is going and would be “shocked” to learn that much of it is supporting “anti-American” countries and causes.

She claimed that the United States has given more than $1 billion in recent years to Iraq, which she said is increasing ties to “murderous thugs” in Iran who have shouted “Death to America.” Iraq and Iran have improved their relations in recent years after a long history of being adversaries.

Haley noted that the U.S. has sent aid to Pakistan despite more than a dozen terrorist organizations residing there and China for “ridiculous” environmental programs.

“This is not just Joe Biden. It’s been happening for decades under presidents of both parties. Our foreign-aid policies are stuck in the past,” she wrote. “They typically operate on autopilot, with no consideration for the conduct of the countries that receive our aid.

She added that she is running for president to “restore our nation’s strength,” pride in the country and the public’s trust.  “Backing American allies and friends like Israel and Ukraine is smart. Sending our tax dollars to enemies isn’t,” Haley said. “That’s why I will cut every cent in foreign aid for countries that hate us. A strong America doesn’t pay off the bad guys.”

Haley, who previously served as ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration and governor of South Carolina, said she often saw countries that “bashed” the United States in public and then privately “begged” it for money.

She said she supported former President Trump’s decision to cut almost $2 billion in military aid to Pakistan, but it did not go far enough.  Haley became the second major Republican to launch their bid for the GOP nomination for president in 2024 earlier this month, following Trump into the race. Polling has shown Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leading in hypothetical Republican primary polls.

Banga’s Nomination Symbolizes Indian-American Success Stories: USISPF

The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) has welcomed the nomination of Indian-American Ajay Banga as the World Bank president, calling it a proud chapter in the success stories of the Indian-American diaspora.

If confirmed by the World Bank Board, Banga will be the first person of Indian descent and first Sikh-American to head the multilateral institution.

“It’s another proud chapter in the success stories of the Indian-American diaspora, and I wish Ajay all the best for this new inning” said USISPF President and CEO, Mukesh Aghi.

The USISPF, an independent not-for-profit institution dedicated to strengthening the US-India partnership, said Banga’s deep expertise and several years of experience in the fields of financial inclusion, public-private partnerships, and climate finance make him a phenomenal leader to head the Bank.

“Ajay’s background in his early years in India, gives him a deep understanding of the emerging market world and bridging the gaps in gender parity and working towards poverty alleviation, issues at the core ethos of the Bank’s mission,” Aghi said in a statement.

A tireless believer in both the strength of US-India ties and strengthening the relationship even further, Banga is also a founding trustee of USISPF.

The former Mastercard CEO has been instrumental in setting up USISPF as a founding board member and a vital pillar in USISPF’s success over the last five years.

Banga’s work with Citigroup, Mastercard, General Atlantic, and USISPF will allow for a seamless transition to mobilising resources in public-private partnerships to tackle issues on climate, water resources, food security, and healthcare, the USISPF said in a statement.

Banga, who was born in India and studied at Delhi’s St Stephen’s College, currently serves as vice chairman at General Atlantic.

While announcing his nomination on Thursday, the White House said that over the course of his career, Banga has become a global leader in technology, data, financial services and innovating for inclusion.

Banga was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Padma Shri Award by India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021. (IANS)

With US President Joe Biden nominating Ajay Banga, the former Indian American head of Mastercard, to head the World Bank, the top posts in the global financial institution will be held by Sikhs.

Before Banga, who is slated to take up job – which, by convention, been reserved for a US citizen – this May, the World Bank already as a Sikh in a top post, with Indermit Singh Gill its Chief Economist.

He is primarily known for pioneering the concept of the “middle-income trap” to describe how countries stagnate after reaching a certain level of income.

Gill, an Indian citizen, studied at St Paul’s School, Darjeeling and St. Stephen’s College, Delhi – where he was probably just a year (or perhaps two) junior to Banga.

Like Banga, Gill is also the son of a senior Indian Army officer.

Before taking over Chief Economist on September 1, 2022, Gill served as the World Bank’s Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, where he played a key role in shaping its response to the extraordinary series of shocks that have hit developing economies since 2020. Between 2016 and 2021, he was a professor of public policy at Duke University and non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development program.

Widely regarded for his contributions to development economics, Gill spearheaded the influential 2009 World Development Report on economic geography, as per his World Bank profile. He has published extensively on key policy issues facing developing countries, among other things, sovereign debt vulnerabilities, green growth and natural-resource wealth, labour markets, and poverty and inequality.

Gill has also taught at Georgetown University and the University of Chicago. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago

Biden’s nomination of Banga follows his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama nominating Korean-American ‘Jim’ Yong Kim for World Bank chief to ensure that the World Bank is headed by someone with a developing-country background

Biden was then Vice President.

If confirmed by the World Bank Board, Bang will be the first person of Indian descent to head the World Bank. He will succeed David Malpass, who was appointed to head the bank by then President Donald Trump. (IANS)

Biden ‘Between A Rock And A Hard Place’ On Immigration

Newswise — Yesterday, the Biden administration announced its most restrictive border control method to date, saying that it will temporarily penalize asylum seekers who cross the border illegally or fail to seek protection in other nations they transit on their way to the United States.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, professor of immigration law at Cornell Law School and co-author of a leading 21-volume immigration law series, says that the rule faces serious legal challenges. If you’d like to connect with Professor Yale-Loehr about this development, Yale-Loehr says:

Picture : TheUNN

“Among other things, the proposed rule would generally deny asylum to migrants if they have not first sought protection in another country they passed through before reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. Exceptions would exist for people with an acute medical emergency, imminent and extreme threat of violent crimes such as murder, rape or kidnapping, victims of human trafficking, and people in other extremely compelling circumstances. Children traveling alone would also be exempted.

“The proposed rule is similar to a Trump-era rule known as the third country transit ban. A federal court prevented that rule from ever taking effect.

“Immigrants’ rights advocates have said they will sue to stop the new proposed rule from taking effect. They have denounced the proposed rule as violating U.S. law that protects the right to apply for asylum.

“The Biden administration is between a rock and a hard place. Congress has failed to reform our broken immigration system, and more and more people are attempting to enter the United States for a variety of reasons, including persecution, gang violence, and climate change. The Biden administration hopes its proposed rule will survive a court challenge. I doubt it.”

Estelle McKee, clinical professor at Cornell Law School and co-director of the Asylum and Convention Against Torture Appellate Clinic, says that this proposed rule is the latest attempt by the federal government to externalize our borders. If you’d like to connect with Professor McKee about this development, McKee says:

“This proposed rule is intended to ‘discourage irregular migration’ by requiring people to either apply for asylum in countries they traveled through before seeking asylum in the United States, or by using a Customs and Border Patrol app that has already proven unable to handle the requests it has received. Neither of these options is feasible for asylum seekers.

“Many asylum seekers who come through the southern border are fleeing gang activity and domestic violence. There is little protection for victims of either kind of persecution in Mexico, Guatemala, or other countries the administration proposes as potential havens for asylum seekers. Take Mexico, for instance. Mexico’s top security official, Genaro García Luna, was just convicted of taking massive bribes from the Sinaloa cartel. He is just the latest example of the widespread collusion between public officials in Mexico and drug cartels. Asylum seekers fleeing those very cartels cannot find protection in Mexico.

“The asylum infrastructures in Mexico, Guatemala, and other central and south American countries are woefully inadequate and entirely unable to handle the influx of people fleeing India/Mediaviolence and persecution from other countries. If the Biden administration is having trouble handling the numbers of people seeking entry into the United States to escape such violence, the answer is not to delegate to other countries our legal duty to process asylum claims. It is to allocate greater resources to our own institutions—expand the corps of asylum officers; create more immigration courts; expand the Board of Immigration Appeals, for example—so they are able to handle any influx of asylum seekers.”

A Rematch Between Biden – Trump in 2024?

The United States is slouching towards a presidential election that almost nobody wants. The 2024 vote seems increasingly likely to be a re-match between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

It would be only the seventh re-match in the 59 presidential elections in American history and the first since President Dwight D. Eisenhower faced off against Adlai Stevenson for a second time in 1956.

Voters in both major US political parties are looking for fresh faces to run for president in 2024, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll. A majority of Democratic voters, at 52 per cent, do not want Mr Biden to seek a second term, while 40 per cent of Republican voters do not want Mr Trump to seek another term in 2024. Trump, who lost the presidency in 2020 and was impeached by Congress for inciting a riot at the US Capitol but ultimately acquitted by the Senate, announced he would run again in November.

Nearly making it certain, . first lady Jill Biden gave one of the clearest indications yet that President Joe Biden will run for a second term, telling The Associated Press in an exclusive interview on Friday last week that there’s “pretty much” nothing left to do but figure out the time and place for the announcement that Biden will run for US Presidency in 2024.

Although Biden has long said that it’s his intention to seek reelection, he has yet to make it official, and he’s struggled to dispel questions about whether he’s too old to continue serving as president. Biden would be 86 at the end of a second term.

“How many times does he have to say it for you to believe it?” the first lady said in Nairobi, the second and final stop of her five-day trip to Africa. She added, “He says he’s not done. He’s not finished what he’s started. And that’s what’s important.”

Granddaughter Naomi Biden, who is on the trip, cheered the first lady’s comments after the interview.  “Preach nana,” she said on Twitter.

Picture : USA Today

The president himself was asked about his wife’s comments just hours later in an interview with ABC News, and laughed when told of her remarks, adding, “God love her. Look, I meant what I said, I’ve got other things to finish before I get into a full-blown campaign.”

During the interview with ABC’s David Muir, Biden, 80, was asked whether he is considering his age when deciding whether to run again, to which he replied no. However, he said it is “legitimate” for people to raise concerns about it.

Biden aides have said an announcement is likely to come in April, after the first fundraising quarter ends, which is around the time that President Barack Obama officially launched his reelection campaign.

The first lady has long been described as a key figure in Biden’s orbit as he plans his future. “Because I’m his wife,” she laughed.

She brushed off the question about whether she has the deciding vote on whether the president runs for reelection.  “Of course, he’ll listen to me, because we’re a married couple,” she said. But, she added later, “he makes up his own mind, believe me.”

The wide-ranging interview took place on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Jill Biden recalled her trip into the country last May to meet the besieged country’s first lady, Olena Zelenska.

President Biden said in a new interview that he has “other things to finish” before starting a “full-blown” 2024 presidential campaign. Well, apparently, someone interviewed my wife today, I heard. I gotta call her and find out,” Biden told ABC News’s David Muir when asked if he’s running again.

“No, all kidding aside, my intention … has been from the beginning to run, but there’s too many other things I have to finish in the near-term before I start a campaign,” Biden said.  The president has long said he intends to run for another four years in the White House, and first lady Jill Biden gave a strong indication last week that he’ll do so.

They visited a school that was being used to help migrants who fled the fighting. Some of the families, Jill Biden said, had hid underground for weeks before making their escape.  “We thought then, how long can this go on? And here we are, a year later,” she said. “And look at what the Ukrainian people have done. I mean, they are so strong and resilient, and they are fighting for their country.”

“We’re all hoping that this war is over soon, because we see, every day, the damage, the violence, the horror on our televisions,” the first lady added. “And we just can’t believe it.”

Jill Biden is the only first lady to continue her career in addition to her ceremonial duties, teaching writing and English to community college students. At 71 years old, she said she’s not ready to think about retirement. “I know that I will know when it’s enough,” she said. “But it’s not yet.”

She said she left detailed lesson plans for a substitute teacher while she was on her trip, and she’s been texting with students as she was traveling. She plans to be back in the classroom at 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, after arriving home from Africa around 3 a.m. Monday.

Education has been a flashpoint in American politics, especially with conservative activists and politicians trying to limit discussion of race and sexuality in classrooms. “I don’t believe in banning books,” she said.

She added: “I think the teachers and the parents can work together and decide what the kids should be taught.” During the interview, Jill Biden reflected on the legacy of former President Jimmy Carter, who recently began home hospice care. The Carter Center, which the former president founded after leaving the White House, was key in helping to eliminate the Guinea worm parasite in African countries.

“That’s the perfect example,” she said. “He’s such a humble man. He didn’t go out and shout, ‘Look what I’ve done.’ He just did the work.” Jill Biden recalled Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, reaching out on the eve of Joe Biden’s inauguration two years ago.  “They called and said congratulations,” she said. “And it meant so much to me and to Joe.”

She also talked about visiting the Carters at their home in Plains, Georgia, early in Biden’s presidency. “It’s not just that here are two presidents. It’s here are two friends,” she said. “Actually four friends, who have really supported one another over the years.

“It’s legitimate for people to raise issues about my age,” he told Muir. “It’s totally legitimate to do that. And the only thing I can say is, ‘Watch me.’” Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, would be 82 when sworn in if reelected in 2024. Biden’s age has drawn concerns from both sides of the aisle. (Associated Press writer Chris Megerian in Washington contributed to this report.)

Ajay Banga Nominated By Biden To Lead World Bank

President Joe Biden has nominated a former boss of Mastercard with decades of experience on Wall Street to lead the World Bank and oversee a shake-up at the development organization to shift its focus to the climate crisis.

Ajay Banga, an American citizen born in India, comes a week after David Malpass, a Donald Trump appointee, quit the role. The World Bank’s governing body is expected to make a decision in May, but the US is the Washington-based organisation’s largest shareholder and has traditionally been allowed to nominate without challenge its preferred candidate for the post.

Malpass, who is due to step down on 30 June, was nominated by Trump in February 2019 and took up the post officially that April. He is known to have lost the confidence of Biden’s head of the US Treasury, Janet Yellen, who with other shareholders wanted to expand the bank’s development remit to include the climate crisis and other global challenges.

Ajay Banga, former president and CEO of Mastercard and current vice chairman of the private equity firm General Atlantic, is Biden’s nomination as the next president of the World Bank.

Biden, in a statement Thursday, called Banga – a native of India and former chairman of the International Chamber of commerce – “uniquely equipped” to lead the World Bank, a global development institution that provides grants and loans to low-income countries to reduce poverty and spur development.

Biden touted Banga’s work leading global companies that brought investment to developing economies and his record of enlisting the public and private sectors to “tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change.”

The Biden administration is looking to recalibrate the focus of the World Bank to align with global efforts to reduce climate change.

Malpass, nominated by former President Donald Trump, still had a year remaining on his five-year term as president. Malpass came under fire when he said, “I’m not a scientist,” when asked at a New York Times event in September whether he accepts the overwhelming scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels has caused global temperatures to rise. Former Vice President Al Gore, who called Malpass a “climate denier,” was among several well-known climate activists to call for his resignation.

Banga was the top executive at Mastercard from 2010 to 2020. He has served as a co-chair of Vice President Kamala Harris’ Partnership for Central America, which has sought to bring private investment to the region.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen applauded Biden’s pick. She said Banga understands the World Bank’s goals to eliminate poverty and expand prosperity are “deeply intertwined with challenges like meeting ambitious goals for climate adaptation and emissions reduction, preparing for and preventing future pandemics, and mitigating the root causes and consequences of conflict and fragility.”

Banga still needs confirmation by the bank’s board to become president. It’s unclear whether there will be additional nominees from other nations.

As Nikki Haley Announces Run For President In 2024, Indian American Community Pledges Support

Indian American Nikki Haley, Former South Carolina Republican Governor and former US ambassador to the United Nations under the Donald Trump administration has announced that she will run for president in 2024, becoming the first major rival to challenge former President Donald Trump for the GOP nomination.

“It’s time for a new generation of leadership — to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border, and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose.” Haley said in her video announcement. Haley accused the “socialist left” of seeing “an opportunity to rewrite history.”

“The Washington establishment has failed us over and over and over again. It’s time for a new generation of leadership to rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose,” Haley said in the video.

“China and Russia are on the march. They all think we can be bullied, kicked around,” Haley said. “You should know this about me: I don’t put up with bullies. And when you kick back, it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels. I’m Nikki Haley, and I’m running for president.”

Per reports, the former president, who announced his bid last year, recently appeared to bless her entrance into the race, telling reporters that she had called to tell him she was considering a campaign launch and that he had said, “You should do it.”

The Indian American community has expressed support to Haley, a second-generation Indian American, who has risen through the rank and file of the Republican Party by her leadership qualities. “I have known Governor Haley personally for decades and we are delighted that she has announced her candidacy on February 15th, 2023 at her home state, and capital Charleston,” Dr. Sampat Shivangi, a Member of the National Advisory Council, SAMHSA, Center for National Mental Health Services, Washington DC told this writer. “On behalf of the large and influential Indian American community, I wish her well and all the success in the coming days, and pray, she will succeed to be a nominee of GOP in 2024. We will assure our community support in every way,” he added.

Pointing to the many leadership roles she has held, Dr. Shivangi said, “Governor Nicky Haley, who has served in multiple roles in the US and on word stage as the US Ambassador to United Nations, makes all of us proud, specifically Indian Americans, who have given a unique identity as part of the diaspora. A rare quality of Governor Nicky is that she has not forgotten her roots and her ancestral homeland India as she visited India and interacted with leadership in India including meeting our beloved leader Prime Minister Modi.  She is a popular and respected leader, not only in her home state, South Carolina, and across US. She has very close ties with President Trump who she may be running against in GOP primaries. I have learned that President Trump has welcomed her candidacy for the highest office of the land, possibly a place on the world stage.”

Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, opened the video talking about how she felt “different” growing up in Bamberg, South Carolina. “The railroad tracks divided the town by race. I was the proud daughter of Indian immigrants. Not Black, not White. I was different. But my mom would always say your job is not to focus on the differences but on the similarities. And my parents reminded me and my siblings every day how blessed we were to live in America,” Haley said.  If successful in the primary, Haley would be the first woman and the first Asian American nominated by the Republican Party for president.

Haley will likely face stiff competition from other potential GOP candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who are all said to be weighing 2024 runs. Some strategists say a big Republican primary field would be advantageous to Trump, who still enjoys significant support among the party base, and could splinter the vote — allowing him to walk away with the nomination.

US Policies Cause World Economy To Slow Down

(IPS) – Few policymakers ever claim credit for causing stagnation and recessions. Yet, they do so all the time, justifying their actions by some supposedly higher purpose. Now, that higher purpose is checking inflation as if it is the worst option for people today. Many supposed economists make up tall tales that inflation causes economic contraction which ordinary mortals do not know or understand.

Inflating inflation’s significance
Since early 2022, like many others in the world, Americans have been preoccupied with inflation. But official US data show inflation has been slowing since mid-2022.

Recent trends since mid-2022 are clear. Inflation is no longer accelerating, but slowing. And for most economists, only accelerating inflation gives cause for concern.

Annualized inflation since has only been slightly above the official, but nonetheless arbitrary 2% inflation target of most Western central banks.

At its peak, the brief inflationary surge, in the second quarter of last year, undoubtedly reached the “highest (price) levels since the early 1980s” because of the way it is measured.

After decades of ‘financialization’, the public and politicians unwittingly support moneyed interests who want to minimize inflation to make the most of their financial assets.

War and price
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began last February, with retaliatory sanctions following suit. Both have disrupted supplies, especially of fuel and food. The inflation spike in the four months after the Russian invasion was mainly due to ‘supply shocks’.

Price increases were triggered by the war and retaliatory sanctions, especially for fuel, food and fertilizer. Although no longer accelerating, prices remain higher than a year before.

To be sure, price pressures had been building up with other supply disruptions. Also, demand has been changing with the new Cold War against China, the Covid-19 pandemic and ‘recovery’, and credit tightening in the last year.

There is little evidence of any more major accelerating factors. There is no ‘wage-price spiral’ as prices have recently been rising more than wages despite government efforts ensuring full employment since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Despite difficulties due to inflation, tens of millions of Americans are better off than before, e.g., with the ten million jobs created in the last two years. Under Biden, wages for poorly paid workers have risen faster than consumer prices.

Higher borrowing costs have also weakened the lot of working people everywhere. Such adverse consequences would be much less likely if the public better understood recent price increases, available policy options and their consequences.

With the notable exception of the Bank of Japan, most other major central banks have been playing ‘catch-up’ with the US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes. To be sure, inflation has already been falling for many reasons, largely unrelated to them.

Making stagnation
But higher borrowing costs have reduced spending, for both consumption and investment. This has hastened economic slowdown worldwide following more than a decade of largely lackluster growth since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Ill-advised earlier policies now limit what governments can do in response. With the Fed sharply raising interest rates over the last year, developing country central banks have been trying, typically in vain, to stem capital outflows to the US and other ‘safe havens’ raising interest rates.

Having opened their capital accounts following foreign advice, developing country central banks always offer higher raise interest rates, hoping more capital will flow in rather than out.

Interestingly, conservative US economists Milton Friedman and Ben Bernanke have shown the Fed has worsened past US downturns by raising interest rates, instead of supporting enterprises in their time of need.

Four decades ago, increased servicing costs triggered government debt crises in Latin America and Africa, condemning them to ‘lost decades’. Policy conditions were then imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for access to emergency loans.

Globalization double-edged
Economic globalization policies at the turn of the century are being significantly reversed, with devastating consequences for developing countries after they opened their economies to foreign trade and investment.

Encouraging foreign portfolio investment has increasingly been at the expense of ‘greenfield’ foreign direct investment enhancing new economic capacities and capabilities.

The new Cold War has arguably involved more economic weapons, e.g., sanctions, than the earlier one. Trump’s and Japanese ‘reshoring’ and ‘friend-shoring’ discriminate among investors, remaking ‘value’ or ‘supply chains’.

Arguably, establishing the World Trade Organization in 1995 was the high water mark for multilateral trade liberalization, setting a ‘one size fits all’ approach for all, regardless of means. More recently, Biden has continued Trump’s reversal of earlier trade liberalization, even at the regional level.

1995 also saw strengthening intellectual property rights internationally, limiting technology transfers and progress. Recent ‘trade conflicts’ increasingly involve access to high technology, e.g., in the case of Huawei, TSMC and Samsung.

With declining direct tax rates almost worldwide, governments face more budget constraints. The last year has seen these diminished fiscal means massively diverted for military spending and strategic ends, cutting resources for development, sustainability, equity and humanitarian ends.

In this context, the new international antagonisms conspire to make this a ‘perfect storm’ of economic stagnation and regression. Hence, those striving for international peace and cooperation may well be our best hope against the ‘new barbarism’. (IPS UN Bureau)