politics

With the entrance of former Vice President Joe Biden into the 2020 Democratic presidential contest on Thursday, the field is largely set, with all the big names included.

The sprawling Democratic field features candidates ranging from 37 to 77 years old; liberals and moderates; senators, governors and mayors; and an unprecedented number of women and minorities. Democrats view the upcoming election as a must-win, and they’re looking to nominate someone who is their best hope to beat President Donald Trump.

Here are the 20 candidates:

JOE BIDEN

Age: 76

Best known for: Being former President Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2017 and U.S. senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009.

Biggest strength: He’s well-known nationally and popular in some places Democrats have lost recently, such as working-class swing states Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, his birthplace.

Biggest weakness: Biden would be the oldest person ever elected president, with a nearly five-decade record for opponents to comb through, at a time many in his party are clamoring for a new generation to take the reins. The notoriously chatty former senator also tends to commit verbal gaffes and faced recent accusations by some women of uninvited, though nonsexual, touching.

CORY BOOKER

Age: 49

Best known for: Serving as mayor of Newark and, currently, U.S. senator from New Jersey. He made headlines last year during his self-proclaimed “‘I am Spartacus’ moment” as he flouted Senate rules against disclosing confidential documents during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation fight.

Biggest strength: His optimistic, unity-first attitude could resonate at a time of deep political divisions.

Biggest weakness: Trying to convince voters that he’s tough enough to take on Trump.

PETE BUTTIGIEG

Age: 37

Best known for: Serving as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and being a former Naval intelligence officer.

Biggest strength: He’s won over voters and many skeptics with his intelligence and an articulate yet plain-spoken speaking style. He’s also shown an ability to inspire voters of different ages with a message of hope and “a new generation of leadership” and has been able to raise millions more than many of his Democratic rivals.

Biggest weakness: His youth and lack of political experience — his only public office has been leading the community of about 100,000 people — will give some voters pause. He also will need to ramp up his campaign operations and do more to appeal to minority voters in order to maintain his early momentum.

JULIAN CASTRO

Age: 44

Best Known for: Serving as Health and Human Services secretary during President Barack Obama’s second term and as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, for five years.

Biggest strength: His youthfulness and status as the only Latino in the race could help him win the votes of Democrats looking for a new face of their party.

Biggest weakness: His fundraising lags well behind other contenders.

JOHN DELANEY

Age: 56

Best known for: Being a former congressman from Maryland.

Biggest strength: He has rolled out a rural-focus policy that includes proposals to strengthen family farmers and rural infrastructure, a plan that could play well in the battleground Rust Belt states won by Trump.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition.

TULSI GABBARD

Age: 38

Best known for: Serving as a U.S. representative for Hawaii; the first American Samoan and first Hindu to be elected to Congress.

Biggest strength: Her military service in Iraq and Kuwait with the Hawaii National Guard.

Biggest weakness: She has been criticized for traveling to Syria in 2017 to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has been accused of war crimes and even genocide. She was also forced to apologize for her past work advocating against gay rights.

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

Age: 52

Best known for: The senator from New York is one of her chamber’s most vocal members on issues of sexual harassment, military sexual assault, equal pay for women and family leave.

Biggest strength: Not being afraid to defy her own party in the #MeToo era, calling early for Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s resignation over sexual misconduct allegations and saying Bill Clinton should have voluntary left the presidency over an affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

Biggest weakness: Sluggish campaign fundraising in the wake of some unpleasant #MeToo headlines of her own, with Gillibrand acknowledging there were “post-investigation human errors” made when her Senate office investigated allegations of sexual misconduct against various staffers.

KAMALA HARRIS

Age: 54

Best known for: The former California attorney general is now the junior U.S. senator from California, known for her rigorous questioning of Trump’s nominees.

Biggest strength: As the one black woman in the race, she’s able to tap into networks like historically black colleges and universities and her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority that haven’t been fully realized before.

Biggest weakness: Her prosecutorial record has come under scrutiny amid a push for criminal justice reform.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER

Age: 67

Best known for: Being a quirky brewpub owner who became a politician late in life, rising to governor of Colorado.

Biggest strength: An unorthodox political persona and successful electoral track record in a swing state. He’s one of the few governors in a race heavy with senators and D.C. stalwarts.

Biggest weakness: He’s previously joked that he was too centrist to win the Democratic nomination. As governor he disappointed some environmentalists by not regulating the energy industry more. He’s another white male baby boomer in a party filled with younger and more diverse candidates that better reflect its base.

JAY INSLEE

Age: 68

Best known for: Being governor of Washington state and a former congressman.

Biggest strength: His campaign emphasis is on combating climate change, which he frames as an economic opportunity in addition to a moral imperative.

Biggest weakness: He risks being labeled a one-issue candidate.

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Age: 58

Best known for: The three-term Minnesota senator raised her national profile during a Senate committee hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when she asked him whether he had ever had so much to drink that he didn’t remember what happened. He replied, “Have you?”

Biggest strength: She’s known as a pragmatic lawmaker willing to work with Republicans to get things done, a quality that’s helped her win across Minnesota, including in rural areas that supported Trump in 2016. She says her Midwestern sensibilities would help Democrats reclaim critical battlegrounds like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Biggest weakness: Her pragmatism may work against her in a primary, as Democratic voters increasingly embrace more liberal policies and positions. There have also been news reports that she has mistreated staff.

WAYNE MESSAM

Age: 44

Best known for: Serving as the mayor of Miramar, Florida, and playing on the Florida State University Seminoles’ 1993 national championship football team.

Biggest strength: He touts his mayoral experience balancing government regulations needed to protect the environment while allowing room for companies to prosper.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition and funding.

SETH MOULTON

Age: 40

Best known for: The Massachusetts congressman and Iraq War veteran gained national attention for helping lead an effort within the party to reject Nancy Pelosi as House speaker after Democrats regained control of the chamber.

Biggest strength: Military and congressional experience.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, late start on the fundraising necessary to qualify for the summer debate stage.

BETO O’ROURKE

Age: 46

Best known for: The former congressman narrowly lost the 2018 Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz in Texas, the country’s largest conservative state.

Biggest strength: A do-it-yourself campaign style that packs lots of travel and multiple events into long days and encourages off-the-cuff discussions with voters that still allow O’Rourke to talk up his days as a onetime punk rock guitarist and his love for his home on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Biggest weakness: He’s longer on enthusiasm and vague, bipartisan optimism than actual policy ideas, and the style-over-substance approach could see O’Rourke’s strong early fundraising slip once the curiosity begins to fade.

TIM RYAN

Age: 45

Best known for: The Ohio congressman made an unsuccessful bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader in 2016.

Biggest strength: Ryan has touted himself as a candidate who can bridge Democrats’ progressive and working-class wings to win the White House.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, late start on grassroots fundraising.

BERNIE SANDERS

Age: 77

Best known for: A 2016 presidential primary campaign against Hillary Clinton that laid the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the Trump era.

Biggest strength: The Vermont senator, who identifies himself as a democratic socialist, generated progressive energy that fueled his insurgent 2016 campaign and the best fundraising numbers of any Democrat so far.

Biggest weakness: Expanding his appeal beyond his largely white base of supporters.

ERIC SWALWELL

Age: 38

Best known for: The California congressman is a frequent guest on cable news criticizing President Donald Trump.

Biggest strength: Media savvy and youthfulness could appeal to young voters.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, late start on grassroots fundraising.

ELIZABETH WARREN

Age: 69

Best known for: The senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard University law professor whose calls for greater consumer protections led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under then-President Barack Obama.

Biggest strength: Warren has presented a plethora of progressive policy ideas, including eliminating existing student loan debt for millions of Americans, breaking up farming monopolies and mammoth technology firms, implementing a “wealth tax” on households with high net worth and providing universal child care.

Biggest weakness: She is viewed as one of the most liberal candidates in the Democratic field, which could hurt her chances among moderates. Her policy-heavy approach also risks alienating voters at a time when other candidates are appealing to hearts as much as to minds.

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

Age: 66

Best known for: Best-selling author and spiritual leader.

Biggest strength: Outsider who could draw interest from voters who are fans of her books.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, little political experience.

ANDREW YANG

Age: 44

Best known for: Entrepreneur who has generated buzz with his signature proposal for universal basic income to give every American $1,000 a month, no strings attached.

Biggest strength: Robust policy agenda, tech savvy.

Biggest weakness: Low name recognition, no political experience.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: The logo of PTT is pictured at the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show in Bangkok
FILE PHOTO: The logo of PTT is pictured at the 38th Bangkok International Motor Show in Bangkok, Thailand March 28, 2017. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

April 25, 2019

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Anshuman Daga

BANGKOK/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Thailand is set to see the most funds raised from IPOs in Southeast Asia this year, with more than $5 billion expected to be garnered in the second half, sources said, as a tourist boost to the economy trumps jitters stoked by inconclusive elections.

Southeast Asia’s second largest economy is expected to see listings from the retail arm of state-owned oil company PTT Pcl, the hospitality business of tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s empire, and a unit of the country’s largest retailer Central Group, people familiar with the matter said.

First-time share sales from these companies and others could make it the largest haul for the country in six years, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak to the media.

Investors are focusing on the country’s stable economic growth and currency and do not see any big risk from political uncertainty. Preliminary election results show Pheu Thai, the leading anti-junta party, has won the most constituency seats, while the pro-army Palang Pracharat gained the most votes, but each is unable to form a government on its own.

Low interest rates and a hunt for high-yielding assets are driving investors to allocate money for equities, fund managers said.

“People are waiting and IPOs will sell,” said Narongchai Akrasanee, chairman of MFC Asset Management.

Tourism is a strong pillar of Thailand’s growth, with the country expecting visitor arrivals to rise by 7.5 percent this year. Thailand’s finance minister said last week that the country will introduce economic measures worth about 20 billion baht ($624 million) to boost consumption, tourism and help low-income earners.

Last year, Vietnam was the biggest market for IPOs in Southeast Asia, with listings there raising $3.4 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.

Bankers say 2019 is set to be Thailand’s strongest year for IPOs since 2013, when they raised over $6 billion. In 2018, Thai listings raised $2.5 billion after mopping up $3.8 billion in the previous year, Refinitiv data showed.

“One positive in Thailand is that domestic investor liquidity is extremely healthy,” said Ho Cheun Hon, Credit Suisse’s Singapore-based head of Southeast Asia equity capital markets.

“Assuming the final election outcome does not impact consumer and investor sentiment negatively, we are hopeful that market conditions in the second half of the year will be constructive for the strong Thai pipeline to push through,” he said.PTT Oil & Retail, which includes gas stations, coffee shops and convenience stores, is expected to kick off its IPO process after the election results and could raise about $2 billion, sources said.

Mall operator Central Group’s retail arm is also slated for a stock market flotation later this year and could raise $1 billion-$2 billion, sources said.

Asset World Corp, the hospitality arm of TCC Group, which owns office buildings, luxury hotels and shopping arcades, plans to launch a $1 billion-$1.5 billion IPO in the second half of the year, IFR reported in January.

PTT, TCC and Central did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

While there is short-term volatility in markets, Thailand’s benchmark index is trading at close to its five-year historical PE ratio, so IPO plans should go ahead if there is more clarity in politics in the second half of 2019, said Nunmanus Piamthipmanus, SCB Asset Management’s chief investment officer.

Some investors, however, cautioned that issuers had to ensure IPOs were not overpriced.

“Competition and supply in offices, hotels and malls make these sectors challenging,” says Thidasiri Srisamith, chief investment officer at Kasikorn Asset Management.

(Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng in BANGKOK and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

America has to fix the attack by Russia on the 2016 election, but it is a “false choice” to conclude impeachment is the only solution, according to Hillary Clinton.

In a commentary posted by The Washington Post, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said “this is bigger than politics.”

“A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability,” she wrote.

“Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.”

According to Clinton, Congress has to “get it right.”

Mueller’s report “is a road map,” she wrote, but asserted the debate about how to respond and “how to hold President [Donald] Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law . . . has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing.”

“What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship,” she wrote.

“It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not,” she wrote. “Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair, and fearless.”

Secondly, she said Congress has to hold “substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps” before heading right for impeachment — and asserted “Watergate offers a better precedent” with its televised hearings.

“Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.”

Also, she said, the nation needs a commission like the one formed after 9/11 to be established by Congress “to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks.”

Clinton also warned Democrats they will have to “stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting healthcare to investing in infrastructure.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

America has to fix the attack by Russia on the 2016 election, but it’s a “false choice” to conclude impeachment is the only solution, according to Hillary Clinton.

In a commentary posted by The Washington Post, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said “this is bigger than politics.”

“A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability,” she wrote.

“Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.”

According to Clinton, Congress has to “get it right.”

Mueller’s report “is a road map,” she wrote, but asserted the debate about how to respond and “how to hold President [Donald] Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law …has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing.”

“What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship,” she wrote.

“It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not,” she wrote. “Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.”

Secondly, she said Congress has to hold “substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps” before heading right for impeachment — and asserted “Watergate offers a better precedent” with its televised hearings.

“Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.”

Also, she said, the nation needs a commission like the one formed after 9/11 to be established by Congress “to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks.”

Clinton also warned Democrats that they will have to “stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Trumps depart the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

April 24, 2019

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump vowed on Wednesday to fight all the way to the Supreme Court against any effort by congressional Democrats to impeach him, even though the U.S. Constitution gives Congress complete authority over the impeachment process.

Trump’s threat, made in a morning tweet, came as the White House launched a fierce legal battle to fight subpoenas from Democrats in the House of Representatives for documents and testimony from his administration.

Democrats remain divided on whether to proceed with Trump’s impeachment after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia inquiry. Trump defiantly proclaimed on Twitter that the investigation “didn’t lay a glove on me.”

“If the partisan Dems ever tried to Impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court,” the Republican president, who is seeking re-election next year, said without offering details about what legal action he envisioned.

The Constitution gives the sole power of impeachment and removing a president from office to the House and the Senate, not the judiciary, as part of the founding document’s separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have remained cautious over launching impeachment proceedings against Trump ahead of the 2020 election, although they have left the door open to such action. Others in the party’s more liberal wing have demanded impeachment proceedings.

Mueller’s findings, released in a redacted report last week, detailed about a dozen episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump in trying to impede the inquiry but stopped short of concluding that he had committed a crime.

The report said Congress could address whether the president violated the law. Mueller separately found insufficient evidence that Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Russia in the 2016 presidential race.

House Democrats have stepped up their oversight of the Trump administration since taking control of the chamber in January, from Trump’s tax returns and White House security clearances to the investigation into Russian interference in U.S. politics.

Trump has ordered officials not to comply with subpoenas, and has filed a lawsuit to prevent material from being turned over to lawmakers.

“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.

CONSTITUTION

Under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of government alongside the executive branch and the judiciary.

The Constitution empowers Congress to remove a president from office for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The House is given the power to impeach a president – bring formal charges – and the Senate then convenes a trial, with the senators as jurors, with a two-thirds vote needed to convict a president and remove him from office.

The Constitution gives no role to the Supreme Court in impeachment, though it does assign the chief justice the task of presiding over the Senate trial. Conservative John Roberts currently serves as chief justice.

That would not preclude Trump from proceeding with litigation to tie up the issue in the courts, despite Supreme Court precedent upholding congressional impeachment power. In 1993, the nation’s top court ruled 9-0 in a case involving an impeached U.S. judge that the judiciary has no role in the impeachment process.

Lawrence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard who has been critical of Trump, said the U.S. founding fathers had considered but ultimately scrapped the idea of allowing the Supreme Court to have any role in the impeachment process.

“Not even a SCOTUS filled with Trump appointees would get in the way of the House or Senate,” Tribe said in a series of tweets on Wednesday.

Some congressional Republicans have urged the country to move forward after the Mueller report, while a few, including Senator Mitt Romney, have condemned Trump’s actions. Some conservatives outside of Congress have urged congressional action in the wake of Mueller’s report.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Roberta Rampton and Makini Brice, Writing by John Whitesides, Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he is considering a Republican primary challenge against President Donald Trump for next year’s presidential election.

Hogan spoke at a “Politics & Eggs” event in New Hampshire and confirmed a White House run could be in his near future.

“A lot of people have been approaching me, probably since around my inauguration in late January,” Hogan said, according to ABC News. “People have asked me to give this serious consideration, and I think I owe it to those people to do just that. That’s what I’m doing.”

The governor added that seeing the Republican Party throw its full weight behind Trump for the 2020 election indicates a shift in how the party used to be.

“Not that the Republican National Committee doesn’t have the right to support the sitting president,” he said. “But to change the rules and to insist 100% loyalty to the dear leader, it just didn’t sound much like the Republican Party that I grew up in.”

Regarding the Mueller report, which was released last week after nearly two years of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his campaign conspired with the Russians, Hogan said the report had some “very disturbing stuff.”

“Just because aides did not follow his orders, it’s the only reason we don’t have obstruction of justice,” Hogan said.

Hogan has been critical of Trump in the past. He told the media in March it is not the “enemy of the people,” a phrase often used by Trump. Earlier in March, he teased a potential White House run but said he would need to see “an actual path to victory” before joining the race.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday he is considering a Republican primary challenge against President Donald Trump for next year’s presidential election.

Hogan spoke at a “Politics & Eggs” event in New Hampshire and confirmed a White House run could be in his near future.

“A lot of people have been approaching me, probably since around my inauguration in late January,” Hogan said, according to ABC News. “People have asked me to give this serious consideration, and I think I owe it to those people to do just that. That’s what I’m doing.”

The governor added that seeing the Republican Party throw its full weight behind Trump for the 2020 election indicates a shift in how the party used to be.

“Not that the Republican National Committee doesn’t have the right to support the sitting president,” he said. “But to change the rules and to insist 100% loyalty to the dear leader, it just didn’t sound much like the Republican Party that I grew up in.”

Regarding the Mueller report, which was released last week after nearly two years of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his campaign conspired with the Russians, Hogan said the report had some “very disturbing stuff.”

“Just because aides did not follow his orders, it’s the only reason we don’t have obstruction of justice,” Hogan said.

Hogan has been critical of Trump in the past. He told the media in March it is not the “enemy of the people,” a phrase often used by Trump. Earlier in March, he teased a potential White House run but said he would need to see “an actual path to victory” before joining the race.

Source: NewsMax America

Americans are punishing President Donald Trump at the polls, and his best hope might come if Democrats try to impeach him, MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said Tuesday.

“Donald Trump’s best hope for higher poll numbers, and for re-election, is for the Democrats to try to remove him from office through impeachment,” Scarborough said on his program while discussing the results of a Morning Consult/Politico poll released Monday.

According to the poll, Trump’s job approval rating has dropped to 39%, tying the low numbers he posted after his reaction to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017. The poll also showed that 57% disapprove of Trump himself.

“The reason why is because he’s now gathered Attorney General [WIlliam Barr], who is doing an inside job for him, who is gaming the system, who Americans know aren’t playing straightforward,” Scarborough said. “Donald Trump, the outsider, has become Donald Trump the government insider who has rigged the system for himself. Americans see it. They know it’s a scam. They hear him lying about it. And they are punishing him at the polls.”

Meanwhile, impeachment gave President Bill Clinton a “very nice departing gift,” Scarborough said.

“I’m talking as far as politics go and being part of a house of representatives back in the 1990s who impeached Bill Clinton when he couldn’t get prosecuted in the Senate, and it ended up we gave him a very nice departing gift and that is a 60% approval rating,” he added.

“Americans are reflexively against impeachment . . . whether that’s right, whether that’s wrong, if your ultimate goal is removing Donald Trump from office, then impeachment politically is the worst way to go,” Scarborough said.

Source: NewsMax America

FILE PHOTO: Main candidates for Spanish general elections hold their first televised debate in Pozuelo de Alarcon, outside Madrid
FILE PHOTO: Candidates for Spanish general elections People’s Party (PP) Pablo Casado, Spanish Prime Minister and Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) Pedro Sanchez, Ciudadanos’ Albert Rivera and Unidas Podemos’ Pablo Iglesias attend a televised debate ahead of general elections in Pozuelo de Alarcon, outside Madrid, Spain, April 22, 2019. TVE via REUTERS/File Photo

April 23, 2019

By John Stonestreet and Belén Carreño

MADRID (Reuters) – The main contenders in Spain’s national election prepared for a second televised debate on Tuesday after a encounter in which they accused each other of lying but left open questions about what coalition deals might eventually be struck.

Sunday’s election, one of the most polarised since Spain’s return to democracy four decades ago, is being fought on emotive issues including gender equality and national unity following Catalonia’s failed 2017 independence bid rather than matters such as the economy and climate change.

With the result too close to call, the focus on heart rather than head makes it unlikely that candidates will broach new topics in Tuesday’s second round.

Ignacio Jurado, politics lecturer at the University of York, suggested rightists Pablo Casado of the People’s Party (PP) and Albert Rivera of Ciudadanos might change roles after Monday’s two-pronged attack on Socialist Prime Minister and election frontrunner Pedro Sanchez.

Casado might become more aggressive and Rivera pull his punches, Jurado said.

The right-leaning El Mundo newspaper suggested Casado and Rivera had outflanked Sanchez over Catalonia – an issue that has dominated national politics in the last few years.

Sanchez, who took power in 2018 after a series of corruption scandals led to the PP’s downfall, has been more open to dialogue with Catalan separatists than other parties and he may need their support to form a viable government.

But he has repeatedly insisted that independence is not up for discussion.

Left-leaning El Pais said Sanchez, seen as a less inspiring public speaker than Rivera and Casado, had not lost the debate.

“Sanchez achieved the minimum required. He managed to get his message across but demonstrated little flexibility,” said Jose Fernandez-Albertos, a political scientist at Spanish National Research Council CSIC.

“There was no clear winner, so they can all go home with the job done.”

Madrid residents who spoke to Reuters TV on Tuesday morning said the leaders should focus more on creating jobs and improving social benefits than clashing over patriotism.

“Catalonia, the flags, Spain – those things don’t shock me. I care about work, well-being, my relatives and society in general, specially the most defenseless,” said one, who gave his name as Jose Antonio.

University of York’s Jurado said candidates may try to present themselves in different ways on Tuesday but the issues were likely to be the same.

MURKY AND MURKIER?

Should Sanchez’s poll standing be harmed by the debates, the election outcome risks becoming more murky than ever.

Publication of official opinion polls ended six days before the election and in Monday’s final survey, by GAD3 in ABC newspaper, the Socialists scored 31.5 percent of the vote, giving Sanchez far more leeway than others to pitch for coalition partners.

However, he may well need to bring separatist lawmakers on board, which would complicate any broader alliance.

A putative coalition of Casado’s PP, Rivera’s center-right Ciudadanos and the far-right Vox of Santiago Abascal, meanwhile scored a combined 45 percent – putting them short of a parliamentary majority.

Polls show up to four in 10 voters have yet to decide who to cast their ballot for.

Arguably the greatest unknown remains Vox, tipped to win about 30 seats on Sunday in the 350-seat legislature but prevented from participating in either debate because it currently has no parliamentary representation.

In comments during Monday’s debate, Abascal criticized the lack of media coverage for his party and the lack of diversity between his main rivals. Vox would bring “order and freedom” to Catalonia, he said.

(Additional reporting by Silvio Castellanos; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Angus MacSwan)

Source: OANN

Mohammad Rafiq poses with his parents inside their house in Ahmedabad
Mohammad Rafiq, 18, poses with his parents inside their house in Ahmedabad, India, April 17, 2019. Picture taken April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Amit Dave

April 23, 2019

By Rupam Jain

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – On the night of February 28, 2002, two toddlers living in adjacent alleys were dragged out of a slum district in Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat that had been set ablaze by a mob in one of India’s worst ever Hindu-Muslim riots.

The attack in the Naroda Patiya area of the state’s biggest city was among scores of clashes in which more than 800 Muslims and 255 Hindus were killed in the month-long violence in the home state of Narendra Modi. He had just become its chief minister and would rule there until becoming India’s prime minister in 2014.

Rights groups say about 2,000 people were killed, mostly Muslims, and including scores of children.

The toddlers who survived, a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl, were both one-year-olds at the time of the riots. Now, 17 years later, they are among an estimated 15 million first-time voters in a general election in which Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are seeking a second term on a platform that, critics say, marginalises Muslims in favor of the nation’s majority Hindus.

Mohammad Rafiq and Pooja Jadhav, now both 18, met for the first time during the Reuters interview. Jadhav hesitantly acknowledged Rafiq’s presence but said they were too shy to talk.

“I have many Muslim female friends but I don’t talk to Muslim boys,” she said in the presence of her mother.

But despite the silence between them, they have a lot in common.

Both are largely uneducated and work 10 hour-days in menial jobs to support their families, who fled with them from one-room homes on that fateful day. Both want to secure permanent employment but do not have the educational qualifications, and say they want to vote for a party that will resolve this problem.

They also want get married within their communities, move to better homes and forget the 2002 riots.

But both grew up in a world of communal anger and are wary of people from the other religion. That is also reflected in their politics.         

“Even before I understood the word politics or elections, I was told that the BJP is an anti-Muslim political party,” said Rafiq who works at a factory printing election flags with symbols of the BJP and the main opposition party, Congress.

“RAGE” TOWARDS BJP

Rafiq’s family-run furniture shop and house were looted by Hindu men during the riots. His father was hit in the leg by a police bullet as he was fleeing the slum and his mother suffered head injuries when terrified people stampeded.

The family lived in a relief camp and later moved into a house situated next to Ahmedabad’s biggest garbage collection site.

“My rage towards the BJP is part of my life story. I  can forgive but I cannot forget,” said Rafiq as he stood next to a huge black mound of garbage.

“If Modi ever cared for Muslims he could come to see how we have learned to live with the stench from the landfill. His disrespect for Muslims defines my political choice,” said Rafiq, who said he will be voting for the Congress party at the polls in Gujarat on Tuesday. The votes from a 39-day staggered election will be counted on May 23.

Back in 2002, at least 97 people, mostly Muslims, living in Naroda Patiya were killed and 950 houses and shops were set on fire in less than 10 hours.

Modi, the state’s chief minister at the time, has faced allegations of allowing, or even encouraging, the Hindu attacks on Muslims, but he has vehemently denied the charges and a court-appointed investigation panel found no evidence to prosecute him.

The attacks were in retaliation for the death of at least 59 Hindus after a train carriage carrying hundreds of  pilgrims caught fire following a scuffle between Hindus and Muslims at a railway station in Gujarat.

Demarcation along religious lines has become pronounced in Ahmedabad since the riots. Hindus refused to sell houses to Muslims, forcing them to set up ghettos on the edges of the prosperous city.

Rafiq’s father sold the house in Naroda Patiya and used the money to start a metal trade business, and buy clothes and items for their new home, which was given to them by a Muslim charity organization.

“We had a choice to go back and live in the house where my neighbors were killed or live near this garbage site. My father chose the garbage site,” said Rafiq.

Rafiq traveled with Reuters to his old home in Naroda Patiya for the first time in two years. He met his relatives and stood near the house now owned by Muslims not known to him.

“The air is better here. There is no stench. I would have been happier if we lived here,” said Rafiq.

COMFORTED BY MODI

By contrast, Jadhav’s family returned to their partially damaged house in Naroda Patiya after the riots to live among Muslim neighbors.

“We had no choice. Muslim victims left this area and new Muslims came to live here. We are stuck,” she said.

Over a dozen members of 37 Hindu families in Naroda Patiya interviewed by Reuters said they want to live in a Hindu neighborhood but they lack the financial resources to move.  

When Modi became prime minister in 2014, Jadhav said her mother, a widow, celebrated his victory.

“Seeing her happy made me happy too. I have nothing against Muslims, but I like Modi,” said Jadhav, who works as a domestic helper.

Jadhav says she is comforted by BJP rule, especially living among Muslims. But she declined to say who she will vote for.

“We live in a country ruled by the BJP and Muslims know that they cannot behave badly with us. No one wants riots again,” said Jadhav. She says she enjoys listening to Modi’s speeches emphasizing his pro-Hindu brand of nationalism.

“I have heard about the riots and since then I know Muslims and Hindus should not engage after a point. There has to be a boundary forever,” she said.

The teenagers are both products of angry times.

“Children read comic books, fairy tales but we have grown up listening about Hindu, Muslim riots. My vote will be my reaction to our painful past,” said Rafiq as he scanned his mobile phone to play and sing the latest Bollywood hip hop song.

“Our time will also come,” he sang in the Hindi language and smiled at Jadhav. She hesitantly smiled back as she stood at door of her home.

(Reporting by Rupam Jain; Editing by Martin Howell and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN


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