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Race, religion popping in US prez race

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By Kanika Rangray

With the campaigning for the US presidential elections 2016 going on in full swing, there is no scarcity of controversial remarks or statements being handed out by prospective candidates.

The most recent and highly controversial remark made by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson in an interview with NBC: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this country. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

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Carson’s statement came through during his dialogue with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd which was focused on Donald Trump’s, Carson’s presidential candidate rival, reaction to a supporter who made anti-Muslim remarks in one of his presidential rallies.

During one of Trump’s campaign rally in Rochster, New Hampshire, one of the audience members made anti-Muslim remarks saying: “We have a problem in this country, it’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one… we have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That’s my question. When can we get rid of them?”

Trump did not denounce any of the statements causing uproar, which affected the prospects of other Republican candidates running for president. Trump defended himself by tweeting that he would have reacted the same if the supporter had opposed black people, and that he was not morally obligated to defend Obama.

 

Coming back to the statement made by Carson regarding Muslims, Sen. Lindsey Graham (Republican – South Carolina) said in a show on Fox News Channel that Dr. Ben Carson should apologise for what he said.

Graham said: “During the second election of Karzai, I had an opportunity to go to a polling station during the election with military members in charge of security. One was a young man who grew up in Kabul, went to this particular high school. He came to America. He was a member of the United States Army. He was so proud to wear the uniform. I had a cup of coffee with him, and, yes, one day, I hope that young man could grow up to be president of the United States.”

“America is an idea not owned by a particular religion, race or anything else… I think Dr. Carson needs to apologize to this young man and every other Muslim serving their country and to the American Muslim Community. And if he understood the world and how dangerous it is he would not say things like this. We have to partner with people in the faith to destroy radical Islam. And most Muslims throughout the world reject what radical Islam is trying to do to the world and their faith. This is an example to me that Mr. Carson may be a good doctor, but he is not ready to lead a great nation,” he added.

He continued, “What would he say to the young man I met in Kabul who left Afghanistan, became an American citizen, joined the United States army? What would he say to the approximately 3,500 American Muslims who have been to Iraq and Afghanistan fighting for our freedom, risking their lives. What he should say is thank you for serving our great nation. We’re all in this together.”

But, this is not the first time that a debate has risen about the race and religion of a candidate running for presidency in the USA. The most obvious example is that of current president Barack Obama.

Obama is the first African American president of the US, or in simpler terms the first Black president of the US. During his presidential campaign and also after he was elected as president Obama was repeatedly subject to claims that he was not a US citizen and was thus not eligible to be the president. This controversy springs up from time to time even now. So does the other accusation thrown at him that he is actually a Muslim.

After Obama became president, there were questions if this would eradicate the racial gap between the blacks and the whites in America. The survey poll regarding this showed that a majority of the population did not believe that the issue would be resolved so easily, and continued racial discrimination incidents which followed through backed up these predictions.

The big and large question is that the United States of America—the biggest global power—is still trying to pull itself out of any kind of discrimination on the basis of ‘skin colour’ and religion, which has penetrated in the political platform of the country.

It becomes more ironic when you think that US stands first in line when it comes to advising a nation, such as our very own India, on how racism and religious discrimination stands the biggest hurdle between its goal of becoming a developed nation.

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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.

Also Read: COVID-19: Samsung Exclusive Stores get ‘Suraksha’ Certified

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.

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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)