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US Senator Kelly Ayotte rejects Gun-Control Measures after Orlando shooting

The gun control issue is already a prominent one for voters in November elections after repeated mass shootings

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Republican hopeful Kelly Ayotte, former Attorney General of the State of New Hampshire, of Nashua, at a debate at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010. The Republican hopefuls are running for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. Image source: (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
  • A group of senators still hoped to forge a compromise aimed at keeping firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists, but failed
  • The U.S. Senate rejected four measures restricting gun sales after last week’s mass shooting in Orlando
  • Hillary Clinton supported restrictions on gun laws, but republican candidate Donald Trump said he’s open to talks with the NRA about the issue

‘We will be no safer, no smarter’, if gun control measures fail again, said Senator Ayotte.

The U.S. Senate on Monday, June 20, rejected four measures for better gun control after last week’s massacre in an Orlando nightclub, dealing a bitter setback to advocates who have failed to get even modest gun curbs through Congress despite repeated mass shootings.

A group of senators was still hoping to forge a compromise for later in the week aimed at keeping firearms away from people on terrorism watch lists, although that effort faced an uphill battle with critics in both parties skeptical about its chances.

Last week’s massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, had intensified pressure on lawmakers, who moved swiftly to take the issue to the Senate floor. But the gun control measures lost in largely party-line votes that showed the lingering political power in Congress of gun rights defenders and the National Rifle Association.

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Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut calls for gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in an Orlando. Image courtesy: AP

Republicans and their allies in the NRA gun lobby said the Democratic bills were too restrictive and trampled on the constitutional right to bear arms. Democrats attacked the Republicans’ two proposals as too weak and accused them of being in the thrall of the NRA.

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“What am I going to tell the community of Orlando?” asked Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida after the votes. “Sadly, what I’m going to tell them is the NRA won again.”

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, attacked the Democrats’ amendments and thanked Republicans for rejecting them. “Today, the American people witnessed an embarrassing display in the United States,” he said.

Street protest against Gun Laws in USA. Image source: people.howstuffworks.com
Street protest against Gun Laws in USA. Image source: people.howstuffworks.com

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the Democratic measures were ineffective and Republican senators “are pursuing real solutions that can help keep Americans safer from the threat of terrorism.”

As the parties remain largely locked in their positions, polls show Americans are increasingly in favor of more restrictions on guns in a country with more than 310 million weapons, about one for every citizen.

The issue is already a prominent one for voters in November elections. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supports new gun restrictions, while Republican Donald Trump expressed a willingness to talk to the NRA about the issue.

After the votes, Clinton issued a one-word statement: “Enough.” It was followed by the names and ages of the dead in Orlando.

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Gun control efforts failed after mass shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and a conference center in San Bernardino, California, in 2015. But some senators see resistance to gun restrictions softening as national security looms larger in the debate.

The Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the militant group Islamic State as he killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

“This country is under attack … it’s not a plane or an explosive device, it’s an assault weapon,” said Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who led a 15-hour filibuster last week to draw attention to the effort to restrict guns.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from Reuters), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter Handle: @saurabhbodas96

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40.7 Million American Workers Seek Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment has increased worldwide as bussinesses remain shut due to COVID-19 pandemic

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People who lost their jobs are reflected in the door of an Arkansas Workforce Center as they wait in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Fort Smith, Arkansas. VOA
By Ken Bredemeier

 

Applications for unemployment compensation eased again in the U.S. last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, as some employers started to reopen businesses after the coronavirus pandemic forced their closure.

Even so, another 2.1 million more workers sought cash benefits after being laid off as other businesses curtailed their operations in the face of the continuing threat from the virus and less demand for their products.

In all, since mid-March, 40.7 million workers have now sought unemployment compensation, nearly a quarter of the U.S. labor force of more than 164 million.

However, the current actual number of jobless workers is unknown since some who sought unemployment benefits in previous weeks have now been called back to work by their employers. All 50 state governors have begun to ease restrictions on businesses opening in a patch-work array of directives that varies widely throughout the country.

The U.S. death toll from the virus topped 100,000 on Wednesday and health experts predict tens of thousands more will die in the coming months. But President Donald Trump, facing a November re-election contest against former Vice President Joe Biden, is predicting the country will have a robust economic recovery.

“States should open up ASAP,” Trump said on Twitter this week as the stock indexes advanced sharply. “The Transition to Greatness has started, ahead of schedule. There will be ups and downs, but next year will be one of the best ever!”

But the coronavirus has had a major effect on U.S. commerce, with 27 companies already filing for bankruptcy protection in May and some companies announcing they were closing permanently.

The official April unemployment rate was 14.7%, with Trump economic advisers acknowledging that the May figure, when it is announced in early June, is likely to be 20% or more. They say the rate could remain in double digits on Election Day Nov. 3 and could still be about 10% at the end of 2021.

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White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow talks to reporters. VOA

The government at first said the national economy dropped 4.8% in the first quarter, but that was before the full impact of the pandemic became apparent. It raised the figure to 5% on Thursday and economists expect a further decline in the April-to-June quarter.

Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, told the Washington Post recently that there are some “small glimmers of hope” in the economy. But he also acknowledged the ongoing difficulties the coronavirus pandemic poses to the world’s largest economy.

“Look, it’s really hard to model a virus, a pandemic, the likes of which we have not seen for 100 years,” Kudlow said. “The numbers coming in are not good. In fact, they are downright bad in most cases. But we are seeing some glimmers, perhaps … there’s a lot of heartbreak here. There’s a lot of hardship here. There’s a lot of anxiety here. It’s a very difficult situation.”

Numerous states still require social distancing of at least two meters between people in stores and some major retail outlets are requiring their employees and customers to wear face masks. Some governors are limiting restaurants to half capacity.

But in other states, the restrictions have been significantly lifted and crowds have quickly emerged to resume life, shopping or enjoying a day at Atlantic and Pacific beaches, often ignoring the admonitions of health experts to maintain a safe distance from others or to wear a face mask.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has warned that the American economy could endure a multi-year recession if more aid is not authorized for workers. He said that 40% of American households earning less than $40,000 a year lost jobs in March.

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In a few states, the restrictions have been significantly lifted. VOA

But Trump and Republican lawmakers are balking at approving more government assistance until it can be determined how much effect the already-approved funding is helping the economy.

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U.S. workers filing for jobless benefits normally are paid slightly less than half their normal salaries. But these payments are currently being augmented during the pandemic with $600-a-week supplements from the federal government for four months, through July.

The peak of the unemployment benefit claims likely came in late March with 6.9 million workers filing for the jobless compensation.

The weekly pace of claims has diminished each of the last 10 weeks since then, but the millions of claims have still been unparalleled over decades of U.S. economic history, reaching back to the Great Depression in the 1930s. The number of claims has far exceeded those made during the Great Recession in 2008-2009. (VOA)

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ISKCON Devotees Recall When Donald Trump Helped Them Conduct Rath Yatra

Recalling an incident from 1976 Rath Yatra, when current US President helped ISKCON devotees

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Current US President once helped ISKCON devotees back in 1976. Pixabay

By Muskan Bhatnagar

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, abbreviated as ISKCON is a Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu religious organisation which was founded 53 years ago, in 1966.

At present, ISKCON consists of 850 temples, ecovillages and centres worldwide, out of which India comprises of over 150 temples.

The motto of ISKCON is ‘Krsnas Tu Bhagavan Svayam‘ which headquarters in Sri Sri Radha Madhav Panchatattva Temple (ISKCON Mayapur), Mayapur, West Bengal, India.

Recalling an incident from 1976, the organisation was planning to conduct the first massive Rath Yatra in New York City with the permission to use 5th Avenue. The massive wooden carts were to be made within the reach of the starting point of the parade and hence a huge empty site was required.

ISKCON
The ISKCON devotees were not able to find a large empty site for Rath Yatra preparations. Pixabay

Everyone who was approached refused due to understandable insurance risksand whatnot.

When almost all devotees had lost hope, they were informed that Donald Trump had recently purchased the old railway yard and suggested to approach him regarding the issue.

The ISKCON devotees were not able to find a large empty site for Rath Yatra preparations. Pixabay

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The old railway yard was a perfect location for the organisation but why would Trump be any different from the dozens of people they had approached previously?

The devotees went to his office with a big basket of Maha Prasadam and a presentation package. Trump’s Secretary received the devotees and their package and warned them saying “He never agrees to this kind of thing. You can ask but he is going to say “No”.

The devotees received a call three days later from the same secretary. “I don’t know what happened but he read your letter, took a bit of food you left, and immediately said “sure, why not?”, said the secretary, adding “come on down and get his signed letter of permission.”

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Indian-American Businessman Urges Trump to Reopen with “common sense precautions”

Danny Gaekwad, Indian-American businessman has urged Trump's administration to reopen the country's economy with "common sense precautions"

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Reopen the country's economy with "common sense precautions", suggests Indian-American businessman. Pixabay

A prominent Indian-American businessman has urged US President Donald Trump administration to reopen the country’s economy with “common sense precautions”, highlighting the struggles America’s hoteliers were facing during the COVID-19 lockdown, the media reported.

Speaking at a roundtable of hospitality and tourism industry, hosted by Vice President Mike Pence in Orlando on Wednesday, Danny Gaekwad, Chairman of OSEM Hospitality Management, said such a move will “help our industry and our state get our economy moving again”, the American Bazaar reported on Thursday. Gaekwad was speaking as a representative of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA).

Besides Pence, the event was attended by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and several prominent business leaders from the state. Gaekwad and other industry leaders proposed a number of steps and a phased reopening of the economy. “This pandemic hit the hotel industry particularly hard, and owners and employees alike continue to struggle,” said Gaekwad, also a prominent Republican donor, told Pence.

“Reopening our businesses with common sense precautions that prioritize the health and wellbeing of employees and guests will help our industry and our state get our economy moving again.” Gaekwad, a resident of Ocala, in central Florida, drew Pence’s attention on the liquidity crisis members of AAHOA, who own nearly one in every two hotels in the country, were facing.

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Industry leaders proposed a number of steps and a phased reopening of the economy to Trump administration. Pixabay

“If there is no guest, there is no dollar. If there is no dollar, don’t even think about liquidity. Do we have liquidity? Absolutely not,” the American Bazaar quoted the businessman as saying.

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“As an immigrant, my whole family works in a business because it does bother us. I represent here more than 20,000 (AAOHA) members. We all came with an American Dream. I thought I saw 9/11, I thought I saw the greatest recession. I have never seen this and I was never prepared for this.” (IANS)