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US Presidential race: Voters spoiled for choice

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Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images
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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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Googling ‘idiot’ Bringing up Donald Trump Pictures Drags Google in Trouble

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech

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Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

US Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, in an effort to understand how Google search algorithms work, asked its CEO Sundar Pichai why so many pictures of President Donald Trump appear when she does a Google search for “idiot”.

“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’ under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the California Democrat told Pichai during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday here.

“How would that happen? How does search work so that would occur?” Lofgren asked Pichai, according to the Washington Post.

The Google CEO — who was at the hearing to address allegations of political bias in his company’s widely used search engine — said the results were based on billions of keywords ranked according to over 200 factors such as relevance, popularity, how others were using the search term, to determine how to best match a query with results.

“So it’s not some little man sitting behind the curtain figuring out what we’re going to show the user?” Lofgren asked. “It’s basically a compilation of what users are generating.”

Republicans have long accused Google of political bias, which the company has strongly denied.

Climate Change, Trump, disasters
Why googling ‘idiot’ brings up Trump photos, Congresswoman asks Pichai. VOA

In August, Trump said in a tweet that a Google search for “Trump News” showed only reports from “Fake News Media.” He concluded it was “rigged” against him so “almost all stories and news was bad.”

House Republicans said they wanted to hold the hearing — entitled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” — to make sure the search giant was being impartial.

“Americans put their trust in big tech companies to honour freedom of speech and champion open dialogue,” Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia said in a statement before the hearing.

The House committee had also questioned YouTube, Twitter and Facebook executives at separate hearings on bias in big tech.

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In response to Republicans who complained about Google searches, Democratic Representative Ted Lieu said: “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.”

“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.” (IANS)