Tuesday January 21, 2020
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The great American election carnival is rolling

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Washington, It was turning into a right royal clash of two political dynasties before a balding, grey-haired politician and a businessman with a golden mop on top spoiled the fun for frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush that is.

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For the rest of the world, the great American carnival that is the 2016 presidential race has just started rolling and anyone out of the pack of 22 – five Democrats and 17 Republicans – could end up being the Clown-in-Chief, oops Commander-in-Chief.

Among the Republican 17 is our very own Bobby Jindal, born in Louisiana six months after he traveled from Punjab in his mother’s womb, and who fancying himself as all-American is tired of hyphenated Americans and much else.

A ‘Tanned. Rested. Ready’ Jindal, as his campaign slogan pilfered from the much-despised Richard Nixon, describes him hasn’t gained much traction and continues to languish low in the polls known as he is to less than half the Republican voters.

First the disruptor, starting with ‘Teflon’ Donald Trump, the real estate mogul and celebrity reality TV show host, who keeps climbing the popularity charts despite bad mouthing ‘stupid’ politicians and a dust up with a popular female Fox News host.

For a ‘smart’ Trump, Senator John McCain was no ‘hero’ for getting captured during the Vietnam war, illegal immigrants from Mexico were ‘rapists’ and an ‘unfair’ host Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever” during the first Republican debate.

But proving pundits wrong, nothing would stick to Teflon Trump, who called his detractors accusing him of making ‘lewd’ and misogynistic comments about women as “sick and deviant” and declared he cherished women.

Trump also targeted Bush, son of a president and brother of another, for saying he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues” and said it was the Republican establishment favorite who owed women an apology.

Other Republican presidential contenders, including Louisiana governor Jindal, tied themselves into knots with pledges to repeal Obamacare, tear up the Iran deal and defend Planned Parenthood, a women’s health organisation.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee sought Planned Parenthood’s criminal prosecution for allegedly selling fetal body parts, a charge it has denied, as unborn fetuses too had constitutional rights.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton once again saw her aura of inevitability threatened as it was in 2008 by a junior senator from Illinois who went on to make history as America’s first African American president.

With questions being raised about her use of a private email server during her time as the secretary of state, self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders overtook Clinton 44 to 37 percent in a new poll in New Hampshire with waves of supporters flocking to his events.

But it’s still early days, and all the official televised debates, nine for Republicans and six for Democrats, and stump speeches the candidates are making are just warming up for the ‘hunger games’ set to begin next February – the caucuses and primaries in every state.

It’s the delegates picked up at these events, starting with the Iowa caucus, where party functionaries choose them, and the New Hampshire primary, where registered voters of a party do so, who will anoint their respective party’s candidate at their conventions in July next year.

There are several other lesser known parties like the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and the Prohibition Party and wary of the Republican party establishment, Trump has not ruled out an independent or third party run if things don’t go his way.

But the debates and campaign stops like the one at Iowa fair where 18 presidential candidates made a “bipartisan stampede” over the weekend do help them raise their profiles and win deep-pocketed donors like the billionaire Koch brothers.

The last Republican debate, for one, gave a huge boost to two other political outsiders  former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Earlier this month, the Koch brothers organised a conclave of 250 top donors at a luxury resort in southern California to pick the Republican horse they would bet on with plans to spend nearly $900 million. But Trump was not among the “Puppets” who went there “to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers,” as he tweeted after the event.

The disruptions’ surge, analysts suggest, has been fueled by public anger at a dysfunctional Washington establishment.

But the question is whether they would be able to sustain their momentum in the face of the well oiled and well-heeled Bushes, the Clintons and the Kochs or would it all end up as just a sweet summer fling?

(IANS)

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American Medical Association Urges Americans to Stop Using Electronic Cigarettes of Any Sort

The recommendation followed advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday for people

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A man uses a vape as he walks on Broadway in New York City, September 9, 2019. VOA

The American Medical Association on Monday urged Americans to stop using electronic cigarettes of any sort until scientists have a better handle on the cause of 450 lung illnesses and at least five deaths related to the use of the products.

The AMA, one of the nation’s most influential physician groups, also called on doctors to inform patients about the dangers of e-cigarettes, including toxins and carcinogens, and swiftly report any suspected cases of lung illness associated with e-cigarette use to their state or local health department.

The recommendation followed advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday for people to consider not using e-cigarette products while it investigates the cause of the spate of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping.

Many, but not all, of the cases have involved those who used the devices to vaporize oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.

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The American Medical Association on Monday urged Americans to stop using electronic cigarettes of any sort until scientists have a better handle on the cause of 450 lung illnesses. Pixabay

CDC officials said some laboratories have identified vitamin E acetate in product samples and are investigating that as a possible cause of the illnesses.

Public health experts have not found any evidence of infectious diseases and believe the lung illnesses are probably associated with a chemical exposure.

Megan Constantino, 36, from St. Petersburg, Florida, quit vaping six days ago after hearing reports of the illnesses and deaths related to vaping.

“It scared me into quitting,” she said.

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Like many users of vaping pens, Constantino picked up the device after quitting cigarette smoking three years ago, and said, “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

She added, “I threw the last cartridge away. I took a picture of it and I literally cried.”

Constantino said many people who vape have been “on pins and needles” for the investigation results, and she is concerned that the reports of a link to vaping THC may give people an excuse to ignore the warnings.

E-cigarettes are generally thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes, which kill up to half of all lifetime users, the World Health Organization says. But the long-term health effects of vaping are largely unknown.

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The AMA, one of the nation’s most influential physician groups, also called on doctors to inform patients about the dangers of e-cigarettes, including toxins and carcinogens. Pixabay

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has faced mounting pressure to curb a huge spike in teenage use of e-cigarettes, a trend that coincided with the rising popularity of Juul e-cigarettes.

“We must not stand by while e-cigarettes continue to go unregulated. We urge the FDA to speed up the regulation of e-cigarettes and remove all unregulated products from the market,” AMA president Dr. Patrice Harris, said in a statement.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, which advocates for cigarette smokers to switch to nicotine-based vaping devices, said the AMA should be “ashamed of themselves for playing politics with people’s health and protecting the profits of drug dealers.”

He criticized the AMA for “fearmongering about nicotine vaping products” while not mentioning “the very real risks of vaping illicit THC products.”

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Juul Labs declined to comment. Altria Group Inc owns a 35 percent stake in Juul. (VOA)