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Bobby Jindal to continue pursuing Republican nomination

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photo credit: nola.com

New Orleans: Despite recent speculations that he was considering dropping out of the race, Bobby Jindal said yesterday that he was adamant to continue pursuing the Republican presidential nomination.

Jindal’s staff sought to discredit a story in Politico that Jindal planned to quit running, calling the report “B.S.”

Politico reported that Republican “activists, operatives and strategists” in Iowa had named Jindal and former New York governor George Pataki as the next likely candidates to bow out.

Jindal’s team has strongly disputed that prediction.

“These ‘insiders’ are made up of other campaign staff who want to attack Gov. Jindal,” spokeswoman Shannon Dirmann said.

Tim Saler, Jindal’s deputy campaign manager, pointed out that Politico in July had called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dominant in Iowa. Walker quit the race last week.

Five Thirty-Eight made a counter-prediction to Politico Friday, calling Jindal a “sleeper pick” to win the Iowa caucuses early next year.

(With inputs from nola.com)

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US: Indian Americans make a mark in Congressional Politics with one of them becoming the first to be elected to the Senate

The first Indian elected to Congress is Dalip Singh Saund, who won from California in 1956

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California State Senate Chamber. Pixabay

New York, November 9, 2016: Indian Americans made a mark in Congressional politics with one of them becoming the first to be elected to the Senate and four others winning seats in the House of Representatives.

Kamala Harris was elected from California to the Senate defeating fellow-Democrat Loretta Sanchez.

Pramila Jayapal from Washington, Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois and Ro Khanna from California will join Ami Bera, who was re-elected from California, in the House of Representatives.

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Tulsi Gabbard, who is a Hindu although not of Indian descent, was re-elected to the House from Hawaii.

All Democrats, they range in age from 35 years to 52 years and represent the emerging class of leaders.

“Winning a Senatorial seat combined with several Congressional victories, has made the community somewhat reach its goal of political involvement,” Thomas Abraham, Chairman, Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, told IANS.

“This also help the US and India to come closer as a global partner in trade, investment, education, science and technology, military cooperation and fighting terrorism.”

The victory of Harris is significant because senators are elected by the entire electorate in their states and California is the most populous state in the nation with 18 million voters.

The 52-year-old Harris, who traces her family roots to Chennai, is a lawyer by profession and was twice elected Attorney General in 2010 and 2014.

Bera, a 51-year-old doctor, had come under a cloud after his 83-year-old father, Babulal Bera, was found guilty of illegally funding his son’s election campaign and sentenced to a year in prison. Prosecutors, however, cleared Ami Bera of involvement in his father’s crime and he beat the odds to defeat his Republican rival Scott Jones.

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A financial analyst by profession, Jayapal, 51, defeated fellow Democrat, Brady Wilkinshaw. A civil rights activist involved in immigrant and women’s rights causes, she was born in India. She received the endorsement of Bernie Sanders, the insurgent socialist who ran against Hillary Clinton in the party primary.

Krishnamoorthi, 43, who had advised President Barack Obama on economic issues when he was a Senator, received a personal endorsement and a promotional video from Obama. He defeated Republican Peter DiCianni in a constituency that comprises Chicago suburbs.

Born in India, he is a technology entrepreneur heading two companies and has also served as Illinois state Deputy Treasurer and an Assistant Attorney General on special assignment to fight corruption.

Khanna, a former federal Deputy Assistant Commerce Secretary, won from the heart of Silicon Valley on his second try. With the endorsement of former President Jimmy Carter, he defeated sitting Congressman Mike Honda in a bitter rematch.

Harris has a dual identity: She is also counted as an African American as her father is a Jamaican of African descent and she follows the Baptist faith.

She would also become the second American woman of African descent elected to the Senate and joins two other African Americans in the Senate.

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After her parents divorced, Harris was raised by her mother Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer specialist from Chennai, giving her equal claim to Indian heritage.

Gabbard’s Republican rival Angela Kaaihue launched bigoted attack on her with anti-Hindu statements and called her a “pathetic Hindu 1,000 gods leader.” Republican Party leaders condemned Kaaihue and withdrew support to her.

The first Indian elected to Congress is Dalip Singh Saund, who won from California in 1956. (IANS)

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Campaign says, Trump Believes Obama was Born in US

Trump and Clinton both held campaign events on Thursday, with Clinton returning to the trail in front of a small crowd on a North Carolina college, and Trump appearing on television to discuss his medical history

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Laconia Middle School, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. Source: VOA
  • The US Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump’s campaign office in a statement, praised Trump for his dedication to prove President Obama’s citizenship and bringing closure to the issue
  • Trump, who has always raised questions against the Obama administration in their 8-year term, is not the only one, Hillary Clinton, also raised an issue on this in her failed 2008 campaign for president
  • Clinton has, in the past, had denied the claims that it was her campaign that started the rumors about Obama’s birthplace

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump – or, at least his campaign – admitted Thursday he believed President Barack Obama was actually born in the United States, after years of questioning the president’s citizenship.

The Trump campaign, in a statement, credited Trump with forcing Obama to release his birth certificate and bringing closure to an issue he helped bring into the spotlight over the course of Obama’s presidency.

“Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer,” spokesman Jason Miller said. “Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.”

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Earlier in the day Thursday, Hillary Clinton, at her first campaign event since she was diagnosed with pneumonia and forced to leave a September 11 memorial event Sunday with health issues, tore into Trump for his support of the so-called “birther movement.”

She referenced a Washington Post story published Thursday in which Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in America and said he does not talk about the issue anymore.

Clinton urged voters to “conclusively” stop Trump, and what she calls his bigotry, in the November election.

While Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of Obama’s presidency over the past eight years and fed into conspiracy theories over the authenticity of his birth certificate, Miller blamed Clinton for raising the issue in the first place.

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for president. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer.”

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The Trump statement pointed to a 2007 Clinton campaign memo in which chief strategist Mark Penn said Obama had a “lack of American roots” and not “fundamentally American in his thinking and values” as proof of Clinton’s role in the birther movement.

Clinton responded to Trump on Twitter by saying, “President Obama’s successor cannot and will not be the man who led the racist birther movement. Period.”

Clinton has, in the past, denied claims that her campaign started the rumors about Obama’s birthplace.

Dueling campaign events

Trump and Clinton held competing for campaign events Thursday, with Clinton returning to the trail in front of a small crowd on a North Carolina college campus, and Trump appearing on television to discuss his medical history.

“It’s great to be back,” Clinton told an audience in Greensboro, North Carolina. She admitted that she tried to “power through” her illness before realizing it did not work and that she needed to stay home and rest.

“I’m not great at taking it easy even under ordinary circumstances. But with just two months to go before election day, sitting at home was pretty much the last place I wanted to be.”

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But Clinton said she considers herself lucky to be able to afford time off if she gets sick. She said millions of Americans have no backup if they fall ill and are just one paycheck away from losing their homes or facing other catastrophes.

She said she is running for president to make life better for children and their families.

“Every child, no matter who they are, what they look like or who they love is part of the American dream now and way into the future. Let that be our message. Let that be our mission.”

Later, Clinton appeared before the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, saying she would send Congress comprehensive immigration reform within her first 100 days in office. She said her plan would include a path toward citizenship for many undocumented immigrants.

Meanwhile, Trump appeared on a television talk show hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz Thursday and presented a letter from his doctors proclaiming him to be healthy after he took a physical exam last week.

“We are pleased to disclose all of the test results which show that Mr. Trump is in excellent health,” the campaign said, “and has the stamina to endure — uninterrupted — the rigors of a punishing and unprecedented presidential campaign and, more importantly, the singularly demanding job of president of the United States.”

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Trump, who is known to be fond of fast food, admitted to Oz that he takes drugs to treat high cholesterol.

He told the doctor that just like many other Americans, he wants to lose weight. Trump is 1.9 meters tall, (6 foot 3 inches) and weighs 107 kilograms (236 pounds). He is overweight by medical standards.

But it is Trump who has suggested Hillary Clinton does not have the strength and stamina to be president.

Clinton mocked the way Trump disclosed his medical condition by appearing on a daytime TV talk show, calling him a “showman.”

If the 70-year-old Trump wins the November 8 election, he would be the oldest to be elected U.S. president, while Clinton would be the second oldest. She turns 69 on October 26.

A new New York Times/CBS News poll of likely voters shows Clinton and Trump neck-and-neck at 42 percent in a four-way race with Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Trump has been steadily gaining ground on Clinton in the polls recently, and RealClearPolitics polling averages show Trump edging out Clinton in the key political battleground states of Florida and Ohio. (VOA)

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US publicly announced $400 Million Payment to Iran as ‘Leverage’ in Release of Prisoners

The prisoners were The Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian; Marine veteran Amir Hekmati; Christian pastor Saeed Abedin; and a fourth man, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari

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President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 20, 2016: On Thursday, for the first time the Obama administration clearly and publicly said a cash payment of $400 million to Iran was used as leverage to ensure the release of a group of American prisoners being held by Tehran.

Earlier this month, in August, President Barack Obama denied that the payment to Iran on the same day as a hostage release was “some nefarious deal,” pointing out that the transfer was announced in January, a day after implementation of the U.S. nuclear deal with Tehran.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman John Kirby repeated the administration’s position that the negotiations to return the Iranian money, the result of an aborted arms deal in the 1970s with the U.S-backed shah were conducted separately from the talks to free four U.S. citizens in Iran.

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“We had concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release,” Kirby told reporters, citing years of mutual mistrust between the two countries. “Obviously, when you’re inside that 24 hour period and you already now have concerns about the endgame in terms of getting your Americans out, it would have been foolish, and prudent, irresponsible, for us not to try to maintain maximum leverage.

“So if you’re asking me was there a connection in that regard at the endgame, I’m not going to deny that,” he added.

Jason Rezaian. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Jason Rezaian. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The prisoners were The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian; Marine veteran Amir Hekmati; Christian pastor Saeed Abedin; and a fourth man, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose disappearance had not been publicly known before he was freed.

The cash transfer and the release of the hostages — both on January 17 — came at the same time as Iran’s deal with the United States and five other world powers restraining Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons, along with the lifting of sanctions that had hobbled Iran’s economy.

Critics, especially those who oppose the Iran nuclear deal, have termed it a ransom payment. Republican lawmakers also criticized the action, saying it undermined the longstanding U.S. opposition to ransom payments.

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Iranian media reports have quoted senior defense officials as saying they considered the cash as a ransom payment.

On the day of the transfer, non-U.S. currency cash — in euros and Swiss francs among others — was stacked on wooden pallets and flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane.

It was the first installment on a $1.7 billion settlement stemming from the failed U.S. weapons pact with Iran in 1979 just before its last monarch, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was toppled. The U.S. dispatched the cash in foreign currencies because any transaction with Iran in dollars is illegal under U.S. law. (VOA)

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