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First Indian in US Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, to run for President

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Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard, Photo Credit : Getty Image

New York, Jan. Jan 12: The race for US presidency in next year’s election is likely to see a Hindu representative and a senator of part-Indian-American descent vying for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Tulsi Gabbard, 37, the first Hindu elected to the US Congress, announced on Friday that she will be running for president.

Kamala Harris, 54, who is of Indian and African-Jamaican descent and is identified as a member of the Christian Baptist sect, is expected to announce her candidature for the Democratic Party nomination next week, according to several news reports quoting sources close to her.

Adding to the mix, there is speculation that Nikki Haley, who quit as US Permanent Representative to the UN at the end of last last may seek the Republican Party nomination in the event that President Donald Trump is not up for re-election next year.

The former South Carolina Governor was the first Indian American to be a member of the US cabinet and has received some Republican Party grassroots support for a 2024 run.

Gabbard is not of Indian descent but comes from a Hindu family in Hawaii and took her oath office on the Bhagavad Gita when she was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2011 and after her three re-elections.

An independent-minded Democrat who has defied party leadership, Gabbard said in an interview on CNN: “I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week.”

A combat veteran who has served in Iraq, Gabbard said of her reason for running for president: “There is one main issue that is central to the rest, and that is the issue of war and peace.”

She continues to be a member of the Army National Guard with the rank of major and while serving in Congress has been mobilised for emergency duties.

Despite – or because of – her military background, she has opposed US involvement in Syria and faced criticism for visiting that country and meeting President Bashar al-Assad.

Gabbard has been a strong supporter of India and closer US-India ties as well as of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

She has advocated cutting US aid to Pakistan and pressuring it to end its support international terrorism.

Soon after Trump was elected in 2016, Gabbard met him amid rumours that she may be offered a job in his administration.

But this year she harshly criticised Trump for not taking a strong stand against Saudi Arabia for the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

She is on the populist left in the Democratic Party and supported Bernie Sanders, the maverick progressive senator, for the party’s nomination in 2016.

She accused the party leadership of being partial to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and against Sanders and resigned as a vice president of the party.

Sanders himself may run for the party nomination and another candidate from the party’s left, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, has announced her candidature.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who comes from the party’s centrist wing, is also likely to join the fray.

Gabbard, who was elected to Hawaii state legislature when she was only 21, is the youngest person running for the presidency so far for 2020.

She had a run-in with Harris this week, accusing her of religious bigotry for her opposition to a nominee for federal judgeship because he belonged to a Catholic organisation called the Knights of Columbus.

“While I oppose the nomination of Brian Buescher to the US District Court in Nebraska, I stand strongly against those who are fomenting religious bigotry, citing as disqualifiers Buescher’s Catholicism and his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus,” Gabbard wrote in a newspaper op-ed.

By Arul Louis

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

Health

Coronavirus toll in China reaches 41, 1,287 infected

The others cases outside of China were reported in France (two), Australia (one), Thailand (four including two cured), Japan (two including one cured), South Korea (two), the US (two), Vietnam (two), Singapore (three), Nepal (one), Hong Kong (five), Macao (two) and Taiwan (three).

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Coronavirus

Beijing, Jan 25 : The death toll due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China has soared to 41, while the number of infected persons were 1,287, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.

The Commission said that 444 fresh cases were reported since Friday, with 237 patients in serious conditions, while 38 had been cured and discharged from hospitals, reports Efe news.

Health authorities have carried out check-ups on 15,197 people who have come into close contact with the infected persons. Nearly 14,000 of them continue to be monitored for symptoms.

The others cases outside of China were reported in France (two), Australia (one), Thailand (four including two cured), Japan (two including one cured), South Korea (two), the US (two), Vietnam (two), Singapore (three), Nepal (one), Hong Kong (five), Macao (two) and Taiwan (three).

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, provisionally designated by the World Health Organization as 2019-nCoV, are similar to those of cold but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

The WHO has so far to declared the outbreak as an international health emergency.

Strict measures were being carried out in China, which include complete suspension of transport in around a dozen cities in Hubei province and also cancelling Chinese New Year celebrations.

Traditional events at Lama Temple and Ditan Park in Beijing were cancelled due to the risk of spreading the virus, authorities reported Friday, while the famous Forbidden City has also been closed indefinitely.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, where the virus was first reported, has been on lockdown since Thursday to prevent further spread of the virus and the city’s authorities have begun to build a “special hospital” with 1,000 beds for infected patients.

“Construction of the special hospital with a capacity of 1,000 beds for patients with #nCoV2019 has begun in Wuhan,” official China Daily said on Twitter.

The hospital in Wuhan will be based on the model of a similar facility that was built in just seven days in Beijing to deal with SARS in 2003.

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Health

Brent lowest in 7 weeks amid nCoV concern in China

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Coronavirus

New Delhi, Jan 25 : Oil futures came down sharply on fears that the spread of the deadly coronavirus in China will undercut demand for crude further, which has seen prices already under pressure due to worries about a potential oversupply.

Local governments in many cities across China have closed all urban transport network systems and suspended outgoing flights to prevent the spread of the virus. China is the second largest consumer of crude oil.

Brent crude rates dropped sharply to $60.62 per barrel, down by 2.29 per cent from the previous close of $62.07 per barrel on fears of slump in demand. Brent has become cheaper by at least 7 per cent in a week, the biggest drop since December 2018.

West Texas intermediate crude for March delivery fell by 2.5 per cent fell to end at $54.19 a barrel. For the week, the U.S. benchmark fell 7.5 per cent, the largest fall for a most active contract since May.

Angel Broking deputy vice president Anuj Gupta said: “After the trade deal between China and the US, it was believed that the crude rates will pick up due to increased demand. But the outbreak of coronavirus dashed all hopes. Owing to the slump in demand, there is a concern of oversupply which has sent the international crude oil rated in downward spiral.”

However, the fall in crude oil rates has brought cheers to Indian consumers as fuel prices in India saw a sharp decline on Saturday. The price of petrol was cut by 27 paise and that of diesel by 30 paise a litre across all major cities on Saturday.

The petrol now costs Rs 74.16 a litre in Delhi, Rs 79.76 a litre in Mumbai, Rs 76.77 a litre in Kolkata and Rs 77.03 a litre in Chennai after the price cut.

Similarly, diesel costs Rs 67.31 a litre in Delhi, Rs 70.56 a litre in Mumbai, Rs 69.67 per litre in Kolkata and Rs 71.11 a litre in Chennai, according to the Indian Oil Corporation website.

The retail prices of fuel are dependent on the international crude prices and the rupee-US dollar exchange rate as India imports almost 80 per cent of its crude requirements.

Domestic petrol and diesel prices are reviewed by oil marketing companies on a daily basis. Price revisions are implemented at the fuel stations with effect from 6 a.m.

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Old friends picked up tab for Davos trip: Imran

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Imran Khan

Islamabad: Terming his participation in the recently held World Economic Forum (WEF) as the “cheapest” official visit, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan disclosed that his trip was sponsored by two of his friends and well-known businessmen Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry, it was reported on Saturday.

Addressing the ‘Breakfast at Davos’, an event jointly organised by Pathfinder Group and Martin Dow Group on Thursday, Khan said his trip cost 10 times less than those of the previous leaders, Dawn news said in a report.

He recalled that his trip to the UN General Assembly last November was the least costly with $160,000 as compared to former President Asif Zardari’s $1.4 million expenditure, former premier Nawaz Sharif’s $1.3 million and even $800,000 of former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Thanking Sehgal, a retired military officer and chairman of the Pathfinder Group, Khan said: “He is instrumental in getting me here. Otherwise, I would not have burdened my government to pay a sum of $450,000 for two nights.”

It is perhaps the first time that the expenses of a Prime Minister’s official travel have been covered by private citizens or businessmen.

Reiterating that this was an “austerity programme”, Khan said the government should rely on the over nine million Pakistanis residing overseas.

“The GDP of those nine million overseas Pakistanis in my opinion is almost 50 per cent of Pakistan’s (overall) GDP of 200 million people. So we can use this resource and they can sponsor these things,” he said.

The premier said he had also stopped his ministers from going on junkets, Dawn news reported.

“Whenever they say they want to go somewhere, I immediately cancel the trip until they convince me that it will be productive for the country. I don’t allow them to go anywhere,” he said.

To be able to attend the WEF annual meeting, a person has to be invited – in which case the event is free – or has to be a member of the Forum.

A membership of the WEF costs about $60,000 to $600,000, plus an additional fee needed to acquire an attendance badge, which runs about $27,000 per person to get into the conference.

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