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Republican Ami Bera’s father sentenced to prison over election fraud

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A US federal judge sentenced Babulal Bob Bera, the 83-year-old father of the only Indian American Congressman, Amerish Ami Bera, on Thursday to a year and a day in prison for fraudulently funding his son’s election campaigns.

Babulal Bera had earlier admitted before federal Judge Troy L. Nunley in Sacramento, California, that he had illegally contributed $268,726 to the election campaigns in 2009 and 2011 through fraud.

Before he was sentenced, Babulal Bera asked the court to consider an option for him to stay with his 82-year-old wife, CBS Sacramento reported.

“I know I cannot survive without her and she will not survive without me,” he told the judge.

“The defendant’s efforts were calculated. This is more than just a naive person who doesn’t know how elections work,” Nunley said as he imposed the sentence on Babulal Bera, a retired chemical engineer, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The judge set aside the recommendation of a probation officer not to give Babulal Bera a prison sentence because of his age and health but only fine him $30,200, The Sacramento Bee reported.

Probation officials suggest punishments after studying the background of the convicted persons and their circumstances.

Federal prosecutors demanded some prison time for him citing “the serious nature of the crime”.

The judge also fined him $100,000 and ordered three years of restrictions after his release.

Usually the actual time served is reduced for good behaviour in prison and the Sacramento Bee said he “will likely serve 10 months”.

The maximum amount anyone could contribute to a candidate was $2,400 in 2009 and $2,500 in 2011. To overcome these limits on his personal contributions to his son’s election campaign, Babulal Bera had 90 people send in the $268,726 in small contributions in their own names and then reimbursed them for the amounts they gave.

Federal prosecutors have not identified those who participated in the scheme or prosecuted anyone.

Babulal Bera’s admission of guilt or guilty plea – avoided a lengthy trial while his son faces a tough battle to retain his seat in the House of Representatives. He will start his prison sentence ten days after the November 8 elections.

The prosecutors has cleared Ami Bera of involvement in is father’s funding fraud. He had earlier said that he would have stopped his father from carrying out the scheme had he heard about it.

“My father’s accepted what he did was wrong, he’s taken responsibility, and I love him more than words can express,” Ami Bera said after his father’s sentencing according to CBS Sacramento.

“I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken for how today’s decision will impact our entire family.”

Democrat Ami Bera, a 51-year-old doctor who converted to the Universalist Unitarian Church, was re-elected in 2014 with a slender margin of just 1,455 votes from a constituency that covers parts of California’s state capital, Sacramento.

In this year’s selection he faces a tough battle against the influential local Republican Sheriff Scott Jones, who is turning the Babulal Bera’s conviction into an election issue, the Sacramento Bee reported.

“Jones, who has repeatedly suggested his rival knew about the illegal fundraising from the beginning and let his father take the fall, this week proposed a set of campaign finance changes to ‘root corruption out of politics and expose conflicts,'” the daily said.

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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 Coronavirus Case

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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Coronavirus Death US

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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