Monday December 18, 2017
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US Presidential race: Voters spoiled for choice

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Photo credit: vietnambreakingnews.com
Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images
Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Washington: American voters looking for a new tenant for the White House are spoiled for choice with 22 candidates, five Democrats and 17 Republicans, including long shot Indian-American Bobby Jindal in the 2016 presidential race.

Leading the Democratic pack is Hillary Clinton, 67, former First Lady and Secretary of State with more than half the party voters backing her but independent socialist senator Bernie Sanders, 73, is fast closing the gap with 17 percent in recent polls.

And if Vice President Joe Biden, 72, too jumps into the fray as speculated, it could really stir the Democratic pot amid questions being raised afresh about Clinton’s use of private email and her handling of the 2012 attack on an American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

Biden, according to a New York Times report has been “talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in” to challenge Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states.

Three other candidates, Martin O’Malley, 52, former governor of Maryland and mayor of Baltimore, Lincoln Chafee, 62, former senator and governor of Rhode Island and Jim Webb, 69, former senator and Vietnam veteran, haven’t really excited the voters any so far.

While the Democrats have yet to announce the dates of six official televised primary debates, knives are out in the Republican camp to get on the main stage for the first of the nine official debates scheduled for Aug 6 in Cleveland Ohio.

With hosts Fox News limiting the main debate to top ten in five most recent national primary polls as of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, respected election site fivethirtyeight has picked up top eight candidates who are most likely to make it.

They include celebrity real estate mogul Donald Trump, who has shot into the lead with his promise to make America great again overtaking establishment favourite Jeb Bush, 62, former Florida governor and son of a former president and brother of another.

Others likely to make it thanks to their fairly consistent performance in the polls are Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, 47 and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, 59, who has courted controversy by comparing the Iran nuclear deal to “marching [Israel] to the door of the oven.”

So are conservative firebrand Cuban American Texas senator Ted Cruz, 44, libertarian conservative Kentucky senator and physician Rand Paul, 52, Cuban American Florida senator Marco Rubio, 44, and author and neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 63.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, 52, Ohio governor John Kasich, 63, Rick Perry, 65, who served as Texas governor from 2000 to 2015 and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, 57, are considered bubble candidates for the Aug 6 debate. Any two of them could make it.

But Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, 44, a former vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina, 60, former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, 62, South Carolina Lindsey Graham, 60, and former New York governor George Pataki, 70, would most likely miss it.

Only Jindal is polling above 1 percent, and no one in this group has got more than 2 percent in any of the last seven individual live-interview polls, according to fivethirtyeight.

They all face the prospect of being relegated to a secondary forum at 5 p.m. before the prime time main feature.

But the polling day – Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016, – when the voters go to choose their president in an indirect election is still a long way off with a gruelling primary process set to start only in February.

It’s thus hard to speculate who would finally emerge as Democratic and Republic candidates at their national conventions at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio respectively in July next year.

And there could well be a third party candidate jumping in as a wild card.

(Arun Kumar/IANS)

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US to begin Jerusalem Embassy move preparations: Tillerson

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Photo: wikimedia commons

Washington, Dec 7. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the State Department will “immediately” act on President Donald Trump’s order and start preparations to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced in a televised speech that he officially recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and instructed the State Department to relocate the US embassy to the city, reports Xinhua news agency. (Read: Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy)

Tillerson, who is on a Europe visit, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the US has consulted with “many friends, partners and allies” about the relocation ahead of Trump’s decision.

Though hailed by Israel, Trump’s announcement immediately drew strong opposition and widespread criticism from Arab and European countries that such a move would inflame tensions and fuel violence in the Middle East.

Tillerson said that the US had taken measures to protect Americans in the region.

“The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.”

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic departure from his predecessors’ foreign policy.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site by Jews, lies at the core of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries have their embassies in the city.(IANS)

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Sulabh International unveils World’s biggest Toilet Pot model

The NGO gave 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

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Sulabh launched biggest pot toilet models
Sulabh International in working towards improving sanitation. Wikimedia Commons

Sulabh International on Sunday launched the “world’s biggest” toilet pot model in Haryana’s Marora village — popularly known as ‘Trump village’ — on the occasion of World Toilet Day.

As per a release by the non-profit, the mega Indian-style pot, made of iron, fibre, wood and plaster of Paris, measuring 20×10 feet, was unveiled to create awareness about the use of toilets in the village dedicated to US President Donald Trump.

Sanitation expert and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, also dedicated 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

“This large pot replica will be shifted to Delhi’s Sulabh Toilet Museum,” the release quoted Pathak as saying.

He said the idea behind naming a village after Trump was to highlight the issue of sanitation and cleanliness globally.

Puneet Ahluwalia, a member of the ruling Republican Party in the US, said that such an initiative would go a long way to motivate masses towards cleanliness and safe sanitation. (IANS)

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Exposed! Paradise Papers reveal Tax-haven Secrets of the Super-rich! Even Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been spared!

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

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paradise papers
Paradise Papers expose tax haven secrets of ultra-wealthy, including Queen Elizabeth. The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive - and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth. VOA

London, November 6, 2017 : A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate secretly invest vast amounts of cash in different offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files in the Paradise Papers on Sunday that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including the Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

Paradise Papers detail extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump’s cabinet members advisers and donors including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one’s own nation’s regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable secretive and reliable often small islands but not exclusively so and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing. (IANS)