Americas

Biden in best position for any U.S. Presidential candidate, Will he be able to leverage it?
Americas

Biden in best position for any U.S. Presidential candidate, Will he be able to leverage it?

United States is gearing up for 2020 Presidential elections amid the mist of coronavirus pandemic and fire of latest civic unrest across the nation following death of George Floyd in police custody sparking anger against the black Americans violence.

Latest polls conducted by ABC News and Washington Post show the clear lead of former Vice President Joe Biden against President Donald Trump. The polls indicate Biden ahead by a 53% to 43% margin keeping the registered voters into account.

The polls are a clear indication of how Joe Biden is in the best position for any Presidential contender, ever since the electronic polling began in 1930s.

In more than 40 polls done in May, each one of them showcased Biden leading ahead of Trump. This makes him the first challenger since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to lead in every poll in May.

Also, Biden has been leading in average in every single poll for any month. His average has never dipped below 4 points. This puts Biden in strongest position for any Presidential challenger.

The most impressive point is the consistency of Biden’s lead, the latest ABC news/ Washington post polls being the latest examples. In May, Joe Biden rose up by 6 points in polls on an average.

The fundamental result of each of these polls is indicative of one thing – unpopularity of President Donald Trump. He is clearly not a favorite. The approval-disapproval rating of Trump in ABC news/ Washington Post polls was -8 points. His average is -10 points. In fact, in the past three years of his Presidentship, Donald Trump has never had a positive approval rating.

The only two other Presidents who had negative approval ratings and they ended up losing the reelection were Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992.

This year has been the ultimate test of President of the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic hitting the country and practically sweeping the economy and lives has been troublesome and an ultimate nightmare. And with the latest civil unrest with protesters on streets with slogans of “Black Lives Matter” post a series of violence against Black Americans has been the last bit. When the country is in need of a true leader to dilute the situation and bring calm, the acts of President Trump have only been unsettling. From neglecting the WHO recommendations to fight the pandemic spread and flaunting “non-masked” attire in public, to tweeting controversial statements regarding latest protests, President Trump has failed the litmus test of a true President.

Keeping these scenarios in mind and popularity of former Vice President Joe Biden, it would be no surprise if he emerges as the new President of United States. But next few months are real test as campaigns will pace up. It is to be seen if Biden can continue to dominate the polls and win the electoral elections.

US may reconsider joining WHO, but with ‘conditions’: Top US official
Americas

US may reconsider joining WHO, but with ‘conditions’: Top US official

The White House on 31 May said that it might reconsider joining the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, the US government has attached condition to its decision to revise its decision on WHO. The first condition for rejoining is the world health body should limit its reliance on China, and secondly, the organization must put an end to corruption.

Earlier on 29 May, the US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from WHO. Ever since the COVID crisis broke out, the US has accused the WHO of sharing misinformation about the viral disease, in collusion with China.

The novel corona virus has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide. The US National Security Advisor Robert O Brien, in an interview with a news channel, said that WHO must initiate reforms, out an end to corruption, and reduce reliance with China.

Defending Trump’s decision to leave the world health body, O’Brien said that the world organization should have reacted quickly to check the spread of the virus from China.

Following the termination of WHO membership, the US intends to spend the $400 million on other public health organizations with worldwide reach.

O’ Brien said the amount which earlier US used to spend on aid to WHO, will now be given to health workers in Africa through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR is a US government initiative to mitigate health concerns such as HIV/AIDS epidemic and help save people affected by such diseases. Similar aid will be provided to international NGOs such as the Red Cross and the Doctors without Borders.

In addition to that, the aid money will also be donated to hospitals engaged in fighting severe diseases.

O’Brien shared how the US government and the US citizens’ tax money is used in Africa to protect people from HIV/ AIDS. According to him, the WHO isn’t saving the lives of African people who have HIV/ AIDS.

The top official from Trump administration accused the communist government of China of controlling WHO.

Speaking on the recent escalation of tensions between the US and China, the advisor spoke about the US policy on Hong Kong. O’Brien said the US would take “proportionate” measures to check China’s growing ambitions about Hong Kong.

George Floyd death sets Minneapolis ablaze, unrest across U.S.
Americas

George Floyd death sets Minneapolis ablaze, unrest across U.S.

On the third night of protests after death of George Floyd, 46 in police custody, the protesters set ablaze a police station in Minneapolis.

The protests unfolded across U.S. cities after a harrowing video recorded in Minneapolis was released showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of resident George Floyd, even when he kept saying “I can’t breathe”, leading to his death.

This incident sparked anger among U.S. citizens lending them on streets protesting against racism and brutality by police against African-Americans.

Mr. Floyd’s family is demanding for implication of accused police officers over murder charges. However, prosecutors are said to be still gathering evidence.

On Friday morning a CNN journalist, Omar Jimenez was arrested with his camera crew at the site of protests by police in Minneapolis for not “moving from the site”. This has further added fuel to the long criticized unlawful and inhuman conducts by police officials in the U.S. Some have also called it as “suppression of media.” The team was released 1 hour later, post Minneapolis governor’s apology for arrest.

Latest protests in Minneapolis

Minneapolis police department’s third precinct, the epicenter of the Floyd incident was mustered by protesters on Thursday. The police, in an attempt to disperse the crowd, fired tear gas and rubber bullets. But the area was soon breached by crowd and set on fire along with 2 more nearby buildings.

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey called the protests “unacceptable” but acknowledged that there is a “lot of pain and anger”.

President Donald Trump’s outlook

President Trump criticized the Minneapolis mayor for “lack of leadership”. He also said that National Guard would be sent to fix the situation.

President Trump tweeted, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

This has sparked the anger even more as it seems that President is “glorifying the violence”. Twitter has too mentioned the tweet to be violating the rules of social media platform.

The protests against violence and racism against black Americans has extended to various cities of U.S. including Denver, Colorado and Columbus in Ohio with mass rallies being carried out.

What happened to George Floyd – the incident unfolding!

On Monday, responding to reports of counterfeit money use, the police officers approached Mr. Floyd who was in his car. The police officers involved say that when he was asked to step away from the car, he resisted and was then handcuffed.

However, the video released shows otherwise, where a police officer is seen pinning him down with his knee on Floyd’s neck. Mr. Floyd in the video can be clearly heard saying “Please, I can’t breathe”, “don’t kill me.”

Four officers of Minneapolis Police Department have been identified in the incident – Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng.

In the latest development, Derek Chauvin, who is seen kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck has been arrested with murder charges.

The country-wide unrest following a long history of violence against black Americans by police officers has taken a violent note and is worrying.

Trudeau takes a firm stand against gun use in Canada
Americas

Trudeau takes a firm stand against gun use in Canada

Amidst getting back on tracks against a war with an unseen enemy, the coronavirus led pandemic, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has had to take some hard decisions which might not have gone well with the gun lobby.

Trudeau has now banned the use of 1500 different types of assault style gun use in Canada. This comes after a sad incident of a gunman opening fire and going on a killing spree in Nova Scotia where 22 innocent people lost their lives.

According to an Ipsos general study, most public is in support of Trudeau’s decision. Making a format announcement the government agrees that the intent is not to target rifle users and hunters but on the use on general public.

Protestors who have been victims to gun shooting in the past are not happy with the PM’s decision because they feel a complete ban would be the right thing to do that to only hold a ban on 1500 assault style guns only.

Currently, 52percent Canadian citizens feel any use of guns should be made illegal. Some believe it is an eye wash decision which is politically driven and will not have any effect on the crime rate in the country. Surprisingly hand guns are not covered in the ban, though statistics shows more instances of them being used in homicides in 2018. They accounted for almost 58 percent of such cases.

According to the ban now, effective immediately, there is a ban on buying, selling importing, exporting or dealing in any kind of military styled assault arms in Canada. This has put many gun owners in a corner and they may not even have the advantage of a buy in as of now. The gun lobby has not put in their right foot forward but that might just happen in the coming months, as not all variety of guns have been placed under the ban.

Twitter corrects Trump for the first time
Americas

Twitter corrects Trump for the first time

Twitter dared to correct the President of the United States for the first time, to be exact two tweets in which he evoked the risk of electoral fraud after the Governor of California Gavin Newsom and other Democratic colleagues introduced or are considering voting by mail due to coronavirus. The company reported the two tweets with the ‘verify the facts’ notice and a link explaining that the tycoon’s statements are unfounded, according to CNN, the Washington Post, and other media.

A Twitter spokesman reported that Trump’s tweets contain potentially misleading information about the voting process and have been marked to provide additional context. Twitter’s provocation comes a few hours after the social network refused to remove the tweets, in which the president re-launched the conspiracy theory that the former deputy and now opinionist of MSNBC channel, Joe Scarborough, may have a part in the death of a former parliamentary collaborator, Lori Klausutis, in 2011.

The request to remove the tweets was presented by the Klausutis’ widow man. Trump immediately expressed his anger on the same platform with heavy accusations. Twitter is interfering in the 2020 presidential election. They are saying that my statement on the vote by mail, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect based on fact-checking from the Fake News of CNN and the Washington Post, he said. ‘Twitter is completely suppressing free speech and I as president won’t allow that to happen!’ Trump added in a series of tweets.

001 - Twitter corrects Trump for the first time
001

President Trump has over 80 million followers on Twitter. He uses the social platform as a propaganda tool, a threat against enemies, and a megaphone of his ads. It is not the first time that Trump has claimed full freedom of speech on social media, intolerant of every rule, even when it comes to putting a dam on fake news or misleading claims. Up to now, Twitter has always defended itself by claiming that it cannot remove or censure political leaders because public opinion has the right to know and evaluate each of their comments.

But now the company, repeatedly pressed by several parties, is adjusting the shot in a battle that promises to be hot. Meanwhile, Trump, attacked by the Democrats for playing golf on Memorial Day weekend when America remembered the fallen of all wars, and the 100,000 coronavirus victims, used Twitter to launch an accusation similar to his predecessor: “Wasn’t Obama surprised when he was playing golf in a Virginia field, despite his wife Michelle inviting people to stay home before and after his game in an important public service message? Completely two weights and two measures”.

Iranian oil tankers dock in Venezuela, defying US sanctions
Americas

Iranian oil tankers dock in Venezuela, defying US sanctions

The tankers are critical in alleviating the suffering caused by acute fuel shortage in Venezuela over the past few weeks.

Five Iranian tankers carrying close to 1.5 million barrels of oil safely entered Venezuelan waters and headed towards the El Palito refinery in Puerto Cabello in northern Carabobo state. They were escorted by the Venezuelan navy and air force once they entered the country’s territorial waters, and before that, they were seen off by the Bolivian Armed forces. This was necessitated by the tensions created by this trade trip and the obvious displeasure of the Americans in seeing their two diplomatic untouchables working together.

American-Iranian relations have been worsening since the breakdown of the nuclear deal and the sanctions imposed on it have stood in the way of Iran’s oil trade with its traditional partners in the Middle East and Asia. Venezuela is also under US sanctions which have served to worsen the economy that had already been battered by years of mismanagement, corruption and now, the coronavirus.

The US is trying to force President Nicholas Maduro to step down and these sanctions are an end to that. Two rounds of sanctions by the US in February and March against Russian company Rosneft, that was trading Venezuelan crude in international markets, ensured its exit from Venezuela, leaving the embattled Latin American country unable to trade for or produce refined fuel, despite having the world’s largest oil reserves. Over the past few weeks, fuel is being strictly rationed and citizens are having to queue up hours on end to get even that.

The US had been threatening to intercept the convey of tankers and there had been tense diplomatic talks in the days leading up to their arrival. Both Venezuela and Iran were determined to stand up to Washington in this regard and warned the Trump administration to not interfere in what they see as their freedom to trade to whomever they wanted. President Maduro, while thanking Iran for its support, referred to both their countries as “two revolutionary peoples who will never kneel down before North American imperialism”.

While the US State Department spoke out against Maduro’s “expensive deals with another pariah state”, prior to this Venezuela was having to import refined oil from the Gulf which was costing its exchequer dearly. The current Iranian shipment contains gasoline and alkylate gasoline which could help Venezuela refine its own crude oil. In exchange, Iran purportedly received about $500 million worth of gold, flown in by Mahan Air in late April, bypassing US sanctions on both countries.

Venezuela-US standoff: Venezuelan Navy will escort Iranian tanker
Americas

Venezuela-US standoff: Venezuelan Navy will escort Iranian tanker

The Venezuelan government recently announced that it’s Navy and Air Force would escort Iranian tankers, in what can be described as sharpening of attack against the US to block tankers from Iran.

The announcement comes after the Iranian regime has warned of “consequences” if the US Navy tries to block its tankers from reaching Venezuela.

Making attacks shriller, the Left-leaning leader and President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro said, “We’re ready for whatever, whenever,” and thanked the Islamic Republic nation for all its support.

The South American country has the largest deposit of oil reserves. However, it cannot refine at all within its territory. Years of slowing of the economy has pushed many into poverty.

The US has imposed unilateral sanctions against both Venezuela and Iran, banning oil export from these countries.

As per reports, five Iranian tankers are reported to be headed towards Venezuela and expected to reach the Venezuelan shores in the coming days.

Earlier the US had announced that its Navy would prevent any movement from Iranian ships in that region.

Opposition leader and Maduro’s primary challenger, Juan Guaidó, criticized the need for fuel from another country and said the latest help from Iran highlights mismanagement of the oil industry by the present government.

Ever since Maduro came to power in 2013, the GDP of the country has shrunk by 50%.

Thousands of Venezuelans have left the country amid the severe economic crisis. COVID pandemic and falling oil prices have further worsened the situation.

The US recognizes Gaudio as the legitimate leader of the country while Maduro is backed by Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran.

A senior official from the US President Donald Trump’s administration has that “the US will not tolerate continued meddling” by Iran.

With the war of words escalating, the US and Venezuela and Iran almost appear to be on the verge of naval confrontation.

Reacting to US threat, the Iranian government has said, “We will not tolerate any harassment.”

In recent weeks both sides, the US and Iran, and Venezuela have sharpened their attack against each other. It may be noted that like Venezuela, Iran, too, is reeling under economic crisis due to sanctions.

Unemployment in the US surpasses that during the Great Recession
Americas

Unemployment in the US surpasses that during the Great Recession

Figures indicated that almost 1 in 4 of all working Americans have now filed for unemployment benefits.

Even as the lockdown is being lifted across all the states in the USA, the number of people filing unemployment benefits continues to climb. Since mid-March, roughly 38.6 million people have entered the dole, almost a quarter of the workforce. The weekly numbers of people seeking benefits have fallen since the peaks of March but more people are also starting to enroll under the government’s pandemic relief programme.

While the latest weekly figures stood at 2.4 million (as opposed to 6.9 million in the end of March), another 2.4 million self-employed and gig workers have enrolled in the special federal programme. These numbers are bounds to grow as more and more states start implementing the new programme. Unemployment claims made during the coronavirus crisis have already exceeded the 37 million claims made over the entire 18 months of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate skyrocketed from the 50-year lows of 3.5% in February to 14.7% in April with more than 20 million jobs lost in the past month alone. It is likely that more than 40% of these job cuts will be permanent, i.e they might not see a revival once the lockdown is lifted. Nearly half of all US households have lost income since the start of the pandemic and another 37% will do so in the next month. Experts say that this will get much worse before it begins to get better and progress will be slow.

It is clear that the government will no longer risk further damage to the economy by enforcing the lockdown But there is no uncertainty over how effective this lifting of lockdown will be in reviving the economy. Reopening the economy does not necessarily mean hiring will start again, analyst says. While 35 states reopened last week, nine of them actually saw an increase in the number of new workers claiming unemployment benefits.

Wall Street analysts point out that the recovery of the economy and its pace is now largely dependent on government’s economic-stimulus policy and the medical progress in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

US’ global lead of coronavirus cases is a ‘badge of honor’, says Trump
Americas

US’ global lead of coronavirus cases is a ‘badge of honor’, says Trump

The US president said that these statistics only served to highlight the good work the country was doing in testing its citizens.

Making a headline-grabbing claim, US President Donald Trump said that it was a “badge of honour” for the country to be leading the world’s coronavirus infections as it only meant that more testing was being done here than anywhere else in the world. With 1.56 million reported cases and more than 92,250 death, the United States leads the world in these statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the US had conducted 12.6 million coronavirus tests to date.

“I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better,” he said at the White House. “You know when you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else.”

“If you’re testing 14 million people, you’re going to find many more cases,” Trump said. “Many of these people aren’t very sick but they still go down as a case, so, actually, the number of cases — and we’re also a much bigger country than most. So, when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing, I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better.”

He added: “So I view it as a badge of honour. Really, it’s a badge of honour.

Trump said the actual tests conducted are probably closer to 14 million. But the delays in developing, manufacturing and administering tests have been widely reported. According to the Covid Tracking Project, the US continues to face testing shortages and sets priorities for who gets one.

And despite Trump’s claim, these numbers aren’t extraordinary by global standards. The US is behind countries like the UK, Italy and Germany in number of tests per 1,000 people. And is also behind countries like New Zealand, Australia and South Korea, who have to test many more people to find a case. Currently, the US is finding a case for every 7.8 tests.

The Bloomberg quoted an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, that even as the rate of testing goes up the US is starting to see a decline in cases and deaths. The positive test percentage is also decreasing, meaning that the nation is finding the cases less frequently in testing.

WHO agrees to Independent Inquiry into its global response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Americas

WHO agrees to Independent Inquiry into its global response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved inquiry into its global response to the coronavirus pandemic. This resolution which was adopted in the summit held on Tuesday has overshadowed U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw the funding to WHO permanently.

WHO’s proposal was backed by the member nations without any objections during the World Health Assembly meeting held on Tuesday. The call for investigation was led by European Union and Australia.

As a part of the proposal of enquiry, the statement released by WHO said that it was a contentious decision for “a stepwise process of impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation at the earliest appropriate moment” with the aim “to review experience gained and lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19.”

On Monday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he supports the call for investigation regarding WHO’s coronavirus pandemic global response, but insisted to hold the inquiry till the virus is contained.

Many nations, including largely vocal U.S., have blamed and criticized China of withholding the COVID-19 infection that had started in Wuhan region in late 2019. China has consistently responded by defending its handling of the outbreak.

Any investigation or probe into the situation will pin the blame directly on China, thus affecting its global standing.

Director-General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in his statement during the virtual summit on Tuesday that the organization is affirmatively inclined and has commitment towards “transparency, accountability and continuous improvement.”

U.S. President has frequently pointed to WHO as being a “puppet” to China and praising it while all it has been doing is withholding crucial information about the virus in the initial phase.

These allegations by Trump have highlighted nevertheless the deferential outlook of WHO when it has come to Beijing over the course of COVID-19 pandemic outbreak that has affected the whole world.

The proposal of an independent inquiry into WHO’s response to pandemic has been collectively supported by all the member nations.

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