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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

US unemployment rate falls to 50-year low

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to a new five-decade low of 3.5%, while employers added a modest 136,000 jobs.

The Labor Department says that despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which was down from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, lower than 3.4% at the beginning of the year.

Hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth has slowed, and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Still, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.

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America

Trump embarrassed by TV channel

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

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New York, Sep 26 : US President Donald Trump was subjected to an embarrassment when the MSNBC news channel cut away from his press conference while he was speaking on the controversy surrounding him over the Ukrainian probe against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump on Wednesday was addressing the press conference against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings announced against him by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following allegations that he put pressure on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a probe against Biden whose family has business interests there.

The allegation against Trump came to light because of a whistleblower and a transcript of the conversation between him and Zelensky in July, which has become public.

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

She added that Trump was trying to do it to deflect the attention from his impeachment.

According to the transcript of the telephonic conversation that has gone public, Trump is heard asking Zelensky to “do us a favour”, after the latter expresses gratitude for the military aid the US provided to his country.

Trump’s words of “do us a favour” is seen as a quid pro quo for the American military aid, because of which the impeachment proceedings have been announced.

After Wallace cut the press conference, her guest on the programme, justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, rebuked Trump for saying that Biden and his son had done wrong.

“This story has been looked at and thoroughly debunked by everyone involved,” Miller said, adding the real issue was whether Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”.

Trump is facing problem at a time when he is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

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America

Kim Jong-un receives ‘excellent’ letter from Trump

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Pyongyang, June 23 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter with “excellent” and “interesting” content from US President Donald Trump, Pyongyang’s state media said on Sunday.

“After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to its leader.

“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” it added.

The KCNA did not disclose when and how the letter was delivered to Kim, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The letter appears to be in response to the one Kim sent to Trump recently in time for the anniversary of their first-ever summit in Singapore last June.

Trump had described Kim’s letter as “beautiful” and “very warm”. He also emphasized that the relationship between them remains strong and that “something will happen that’s going to be very positive”.

The exchange of correspondence between the leaders renewed hopes for a resumption of denuclearization talks which have stalled since the breakdown of their second summit in February.

The summit collapsed as Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief as a corresponding measure in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, while Washington insisted that sanctions should remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons programme.

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