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Nikki Haley exits Trump administration with her reputation significantly enhanced

The clearest expression of her independence came in April over the question of whether the administration would impose new sanctions on Russia in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is effectively a client state of Moscow.

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Trump and Nikki Haley

Chicago, Oct 10 : Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN and the highest-ranking woman official in the Trump administration, is leaving with her reputation not only intact but even significantly enhanced.

As she prepares to leave at the end of 2018 after two years at the UN, the 46-year-old daughter of Indian American Sikh parents named Namrata, Haley is being widely seen as greatly skillful in negotiating the often incendiary and capricious administration under President Donald Trump.

With six years as the governor of South Carolina before her UN assignment, Haley is the first administration official who successfully carved out a reputation for independence even while not stepping on Trump’s toes.

If anything, she exits with Trump expressing sanguine fondness for her, calling her “very special to me”.

Even though Haley charted her own course as a UN diplomat in an administration run on presidential whims, she managed rather well in not attracting unvarnished attention of her boss.

The clearest expression of her independence came in April over the question of whether the administration would impose new sanctions on Russia in response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria, which is effectively a client state of Moscow.

In an interview with CBS News on April 15, Haley had said: “Russia sanctions will be coming down. (Treasury) Secretary (Steven) Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he has not already, and they will be going directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to (Syrian leader Bashar al-) Assad and chemical weapons use.”

“So I think everyone is going to be feeling it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to us,” she had said.

The comments apparently put the White House and openly Russia-friendly Trump in a bind, prompting top White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow to say that Haley had “got ahead of the curve”, adding, “There might have been some momentary confusion about that.”

Stung by the “momentary confusion” comment, Haley swatted right back in a memorable counter — “With all due respect, I don’t get confused” — in an interview with Fox News.

That strong but succinct rejoinder from Haley was her way of saying that while she may broadly support the President’s agenda she was not going to be a pushover.

Throughout her two years as the top US diplomat at the UN, Haley managed to strike a delicate balance between executing the Trump doctrine, such as it is, and maintaining her personal credibility with world diplomats.

She may not have intended it that way originally, but once in the job, she assiduously built up her foreign policy credentials for a future presidential run.

Of course, during a West Wing announcement of her departure in the presence of Trump on Tuesday, she pre-emptively said: “I don’t have anything set where I am going to go… And I will say this to all of you that are going to ask about 2020: No, I am not running for 2020.

“I can promise you what I’ll be doing is campaigning for this one.” While saying “this one” she pointed to Trump sitting to her left.

That was as definitive as it can get in politics and, as of now, there are no expectations that she might still run for president in 2020. Even if she chooses to run in 2024, Haley would be only 52. It is unlikely that she would fade out for the next five years.

She was expected to take a break after an intensive eight years of public service during which she has emerged as a star of the Republican Party at a time when Trump snuffs all the oxygen out.

She made it a point to praise Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner during the brief West Wing media interaction for their various engagements behind-the-scenes, perhaps making sure that she can ride some of the president’s base if she does indeed run in 2024.

(Mayank Chhaya can be contacted at [email protected])

America

United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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