Uttara J Malhotra

How I ll Prepared Is America To Handle Coronavirus
Americas, Asia Pacific Focus

How I ll Prepared Is America To Handle Coronavirus

The coronavirus is now getting takers for a vaccine and the US has already committed a whooping figure in developing a cure. Vietnam healthy ministry has proudly declared that all the 16 people who was suffering from the virus have been cured.

While political analysts believe that America is very ill equipped under Trump’s leadership to handle an outbreak in America, the White House seems to have sent off an urgent request to lawmakers with a $2.5 billion plan to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The virus outbreak is rapidly spreading to Iran and Middle Eastern countries also and has started to threat the global economy that has now started to rock financial markets too.

The White House budget office has indicated that the funds are being kept away for vaccines, treatment, and protective equipment. The request could advance quickly through Congress and came as coronavirus fears were credited with Monday’s 1,000-plus point drop in the Dow Jones Industrials and are increasingly seen as a potential political threat to President Donald Trump.

Late in January, the World Health Organization has already declared the virus, named COVID-19, a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” and urged an immediate international response. There are still suspicions that the virus could have been triggered through a biological weapon and may not have been bat induced at all.

Everyone is foxed about when did the virus make the jump from animals to humans, and from which species? How widespread are cases, how infectious is the disease and how fatal is it?

Back home, as Trump makes a political statement with his presence in India, the US stocks seemed to have dived amid growing concerns about a deadly virus spreading quickly across continents. The whole situation looks like a bubble about to burst when it comes to Trump’s tall claims and re-election bids while the country isn’t looking prepared to handle the pandemic like conditions. The president has been using a downplaying strategy reassuring public that ‘all is well’.

According to Russell Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, “for a president who has governed by tweet and circus a potential global health crisis that blunts economic growth could expose one of Trump’s main weaknesses as he prepares to face voters in November.”Trump has systematically crippled the emergency response system and medical backbone of the country. By ridding himself of experienced officials and those in the scientific community, he has literally chopped the legs off under him. The time is near when America might find itself extremely ill equipped to handle a catastrophe as declared by WHO.

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Adam Schiff Blamed For Influencing 2020 Election Build-Up

Adam Schiff Blamed For Influencing 2020 Election Build-Up

Representative Adam Schiff has been blamed for leaking classified information on Russian interference in the 2020U.S. election. President Donald Trump has accused him of doing so to hurt Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders’ election campaign.

Trump denied to media sources that he did not know any briefing through American intelligence services who have said to have share data on how Russia was aiming to boost the campaign of Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a U.S. senator from Vermont, and is said to have called for a probe into Schiff for the leak. Schiff, a Democrat, denied the allegation.

It is being confirmed through the American intelligence sources that Russia is actually trying to indulge in misinformation and propaganda campaigns to push for Sanders and Trump to get through the re-election. Schiff, who served as the lead prosecutor in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate, said Trump was seeking to turn attention away from his own actions with the comments.

Schiff, in his defense has said that Trump seems to be trying to get back at him because of his earlier role in the impeachment trial. Schiff has served as the lead prosecutor in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. It is also being indicated that Trump is using the classic tactic of diverting the world’s attention from his own involvement in the 2016 election scandal where American agencies had indicated that Moscow had a strong role to play in defaming the prominent candidate Hilary Clinton. The result was that the American voters’ attention shifted to Trump.

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Iran Blames Virus Outbreak For Low Election Turnout
Middle East & Africa

Iran Blames Virus Outbreak For Low Election Turnout

Bitten by the unpopularity bug, Iran has faced a poor turnout in its 2020 parliamentary election attempt. The poll turnout showed at 42percent. Authorities are still averting the responsibility of poor governance due to which the civilian population is refusing to vote for any of the nominations standing for the election.

The population is not happy with the way Tehran has dealt with mounting crises, one after the other. Iran has been faced with growing isolation from the west and Europe. The result has been that the economy has had to suffer set back. Iran is an essentially import dependent country. Threats of conflict over its nuclear standoff with the United States had led to an increase in gasoline prices, burning a hole in the pocket of the civilian population.

Undeniably, there is a pronounced increase in discontent at home. The turnout has been therefore seen as a referendum on the popularity of the Islamic republic’s rulers.

In comparison to the recent turnout, the previous years have been much healthier. Turnout was 62% in the 2016 parliamentary vote and 66% of voters cast ballots in 2012.

The results have been tilted towards hardline loyalists close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say on all state matters. Strangely, however, Khamenei, who on Friday said that voting was “a religious duty”, blamed the low turnout on the “negative propaganda” about the new coronavirus by Iran’s enemies.

“This negative propaganda about the virus began a couple of months ago and grew larger ahead of the election,” said Khamenei, according to his official website Khamenei.ir.

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American Universities  Compelled To Support Big Donators Like Qatar
Americas, Middle East & Africa

American Universities Compelled To Support Big Donators Like Qatar

Prestigious universities like Yale and Harvard might have failed to report the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign gifts and contracts as required by law. This has been shared by the US Justice Department Of Education. According to the department, the Yale University in Connecticut received hefty amounts as foreign money. But it has failed to report at least $375 million of such gifts over the last four years.

The worms are out of the can since last week when Yale received a request from the Education department for records of certain gifts and contracts from foreign sources under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, said university spokeswoman Karen Peart.

But by doing so and not declaring the same, the university might land up favoring admission to those who can grease their palms than to those who genuinely deserved admission. It has been reported in the past, that countries like Qatar have tried to swindle their way into such prestigious universities by giving in large amounts of aid to professors and research scholars. There have been connections found between the money gifts given by Qatar and the sudden presence and favored admission to pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses.

The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) has conducted a study called ‘Follow the Money’ that reveals how universities were crossing the line when not disclosing actual amounts of donations given to them by foreign parties. Through the research it was discovered that actually, a total of $3billion Qatari donation remained undisclosed.

Media resources confirm that Qatar has used bought over PR as its trusted tool to buy favorable opinion. Qatar continues to provide anti-American terrorists such as ISIS, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban with “safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons.” Because these American universities have professors’ salaries, fellowships, or think-tanks funded in part by Qatar, their allegiance is obviously a ‘said’ thing.

According to Federal law, most colleges and universities need to report gifts from and contracts with foreign sources that are more than $250,000 twice a year. But both the top universities seemed to have failed to do so, raising a red flag. Speaking over the matter, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said, “This is about transparency. If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom.”

Further, danger lies in the anti-Jewish activities that are also getting focus in a university environment. There is a correlation seen between the funding of universities by Qatar and the Gulf States with the presence of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and a deteriorating environment that fosters an antisemitic and aggressive atmosphere. This has been confirmed by a report by ISGAP. Also, the Anti-Defamation League has confirmed that often members of Students for Justice in Palestine “demonize Jewish students who identify as Zionists.”

The fact that universities are being exploited by rich Arab countries to meet their political agendas is not only unfair but scary and defeats the whole purpose of education.

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Wells Fargo Bank Admits To Stealing Money From Public

Wells Fargo Bank Admits To Stealing Money From Public

An American bank Wells Fargo & Co has finally agreed to wrongdoing in the form of pressurizing employees in a fake accounts scandal. This was long pending case with the US Justice Department and Securities. The San Francisco based bank has now agreed to pay $3 billion (2.3 billion pounds) to resolve criminal and civil probes against it. It was accused for fraudulent sales practices and has admitted to the same.

The bank will also enter into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement during which it will continue to cooperate with any ongoing government investigations, Justice Department officials have confirmed in a media statement.

Wells Fargo &Co admitted that between 2002 and 2016, it indeed did pressurize employees to meet “unrealistic sales goals that led thousands of employees to provide millions of accounts or products to customers under false pretenses or without consent, often by creating false records or misusing customers’ identities,” the department confirmed it their media address.

Nick Hanna, U.S. attorney for the Central District of California further added that “this case illustrates a complete failure of leadership at multiple levels within the bank. Simply put, Wells Fargo traded its hard-earned reputation for short-term profits, and harmed untold numbers of customers along the way.”

Strangely, the top management in the bank’s community bank division was aware of this wrongdoing since 2002, and many of these unethical and unlawful activities were simply termed as ‘gaming’ within the bank’s working language.

About $500 million of the penalties will go to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to be distributed to investors to settle charges that the bank committed fraud by misleading investors about its sales practices, an SEC official shared with the media.

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Leaders Summit Reaches Knots End For EU

Leaders Summit Reaches Knots End For EU

The European Union is having a tough time getting everyone to come on the same page as Brexit exit has shaken up their budget plans. A recent meeting came to a knot’s end when the various country participants could not reach a consensus.

With Brexit’s exit, the European Union has been left to deal with 75 billion euros short in its budgets and the remaining 27 EU countries are now showing unwillingness to agree on the overall size of the bloc’s 2021-27 budget or how to spend it.

The current exit has brought forth more cost related challenges. However, it is confirmed that setting the budget has always been a tug of war. Challenges include managing climate change concerns, to migration and a growing digital economy.

From the sound of the whole discussion, it seemed Germany would have to take the brunt of the Brexit shortfall. It wasn’t happy with it one bit. The other nations that are hard pressed over spending include Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands. They have been called the ‘frugal four’ who are totally against a scheme that would allocate one-third for development aid to help poorer regions grow and another third on support for farmers, a key priority for Paris.

Berlin, Vienna and others were more interested on border management following Europe’s migrant crisis of 2015-16, tackling climate change, beefing up security and modernizing the bloc’s economy through digital investment.

So, the EU leaders’ summit did not yield any positive outcome and then the Austrian Sebastian Kurtz said that ‘it usually takes more than a meeting to come to a consensus’. The bloc will anyway have to freeze its projects by the end of 2021. So, further summits will be on the cards soon.

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Bernie Sanders Warned About Russian Interference In Election Build Up

Bernie Sanders Warned About Russian Interference In Election Build Up

Russia is said to be interfering with the built up towards the 2020 US elections, FBI intelligence reporting has confirmed. This time, they are trying to interfere with Bernie Sander’s build up but in at a smaller scale.

Both Sanders and Mr. Donald Trump have been briefed about this intelligence. According to intelligence findings, this kind of interference had been discovered to be done in the 2016 to influence the winning of Trump and jeopardizing the election results for Hilary Clinton.

Trump has continued to deny Russian involvement in private and public. It is now being indicated that possibly, Mr. Sanders, who has been criticized for online vitriol might be a victim to fake internet accounts spreading such false news under his name. His supporters are now saying that it is possible this kind of “ugly stuff” that has been attributed to his campaign was actually coming from Russian intervention.

Moscow is known to have created many fictitious accounts that trampled over Clinton’s portrayal and spread malicious false news against her, strengthening the case for Trump to be elected.

U.S. national security officials have struggled with how to respond to indications that foreign adversaries may be meddling in elections after the Obama administration was criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike for not disclosing more to the public and Russia’s interference in 2016.

The US has been struggling against increasing foreign influence and interference in the election process term after term. There are many forces at play in ensuring a certain kind of candidate wins the American elections.

The U.S. intelligence has been extremely forthcoming and accurate in having warned for years that Russia and others were likely seek to interfere in the 2020 contest. Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that Russia interfered in “sweeping and systematic” fashion in the 2016 presidential election to help Mr. Trump and denigrate his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton.

However, the warnings have continued to be ignored making it possible to suspect the intent of the current serving President, for some kind of meddling with the results becomes evident.

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Tokyo Unhappy With London Indication To Host Olympics 2020
Asia Pacific Focus

Tokyo Unhappy With London Indication To Host Olympics 2020

The coronavirus outbreak might be giving Olympic organizers second thoughts about Tokyo as the venue. This has indeed left the governor of Tokyo feeling upset that he made a public statement stating that it was inappropriate for candidates in London’s mayoral election to push for their city as venue instead.

It seems that talks are doing rounds that London could be considered a more appropriate host for the 2020 Olympic Games if the coronavirus outbreak could not be contained.

This thought has been floated by Shaun Bailey, a Conservative candidate for mayor of the British capital. Further, the International Olympic Committee has already received a note from the World Health Organization that says that there was no case for contingency plans to cancel or relocate the Games from Tokyo.

On the other side of the globe, Australian Olympic boss John Coates has already reassured athletes and spectators that they will be safe to attend the Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus outbreak in neighbouring China.

There is no news of any players pulling out from the Olympics in the wake of the outbreak. However, confirmed reports claim that the virus has already hit a number of international sports events within China. It has led to either cancelation or postponement. These include events like Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai and indoor world track and field championships in Nanjing and rescheduling of women’s Olympic football qualifiers from disease epicentre Wuhan to Sydney.

The coronavirus situation of 2020 does resembles the 2016 Rio Olympics when the IOC relied on WHO guidance about the dangers of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. At that time, many high profile sportsmen had withdrawn participation. This included Australian golfers Jason Day and Marc Leishman. But, up to this point, Coates has no knowledge of coronavirus scaring Australian athletes away from the Tokyo Games.

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Wikileaks Founder Might Receive Pardon  For Trump

Wikileaks Founder Might Receive Pardon For Trump

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange could save his life if he would just deny that Russia had anything to do with WikiLeaks’ publication of Democratic Party emails in 2016, the Trump government has said. This has been confirmed by his lawyer in London who is now considering releasing the Australian editor-journalist.

This announcement could actually lead to his extradition to the U.S. His lawyers have proven the fact that the former Republican U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher had been sent by the president to visit Assange in 2017 to offer him a pardon. However Rohrabacher has denied ever having spoken to the president about Assange.

Assange is wanted in the US on 18 counts of including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades behind bars if convicted.

The Australian-born Assange made global headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff. In 2010, his website is said to have enraged Washington by leaking secret U.S. documents making them easy for public consumption.

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Trump Sacks Maguire Over Spill Of Beans On Russia Connect To House Committee

Trump Sacks Maguire Over Spill Of Beans On Russia Connect To House Committee

Someone from the National Intelligence Department spilled bean which he was not supposed to. It has resulted in Joseph Maguire losing his job. The acting director of national intelligence was pulled up insubordination coming to light from within his area of work. It was learned that one of his subordinates had briefed the House Intelligence Committee about Russia’s apparent preference for Mr. Trump in the 2020 presidential contest.

It is confirmed that Shelby Pierson, the top election-security official in Mr. Maguire’s office had delivered information on election interference in a classified hearing before bipartisan members of the House panel, alongside national security officials from other federal agencies.

According to Pierson’s statement in the hearing, Russia seemed to be favouring Trump towards the 2016 election campaign. This is where Trump has suddenly decided to drop the retired navy admiral and opted for someone less experienced for the role. Trump has now named Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany, as his next acting director of national intelligence.

The first openly gay cabinet level official in American history, Grenell has exhibited certain amount of loyalty to Trump in the past; hence the favoritism. Grenell, it is believed, might have to face stiff resistance and sharp opposition from Democrats if the White House tried to push through a Senate nomination and confirmation process.
Moscow interfered in “sweeping and systemic fashion” in the 2016 election in an effort to boost then-candidate Trump’s chances by spreading divisive social media content and hacking and leaking Democratic emails, according to the findings of former special counsel Robert Mueller. Russia has denied election interference.

Trump has publicly and privately always denied any knowledge and showed skepticism over the US intelligence services drawing up with such conclusions. Trump does not share good vibes with any of the US intelligence services and has tried constantly to rid them of officers to replace with the ones that can toe-the-line for him.

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