Crime and Punishment in Syria

US President Donald Trump has jumped the gun for no justifiable reason. He ordered bombardment of Syrian airbase without waiting to confirm if chemical weapons were really used on Syrian civilians by Assad Government. Assad has no reason to kill his own citizens when everything is going well for him in the protracted civil war.
Photo Credit: Institute for the Study of War, LiveUAMap

Vithal Rajan

When a dastardly crime is committed, criminal investigation procedures demand there should be a primary focus on who has the motive, and then on who has the opportunity to commit the crime. Responsible agencies are not expected to jump to conclusions.

So, it was surprising that at an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday, April 5th,  Nikki Hayes, American ambassador to the UN, held up photos of children dying of sarin gas poisoning in Idlib, a rebel-held stronghold in north Syria, and blamed Syrian President Assad for bombing them to their agonizing death on Tuesday, April 4th morning. However, Kim Wan-Soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, could only say ‘the means of delivery of the alleged attack cannot be definitively confirmed, at this stage.’ The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons [OPCW] was also still in the process of gathering and analyzing data and could confirm nothing. Nikki Hayes was not deterred. ‘When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,’ she said. ‘For the sake of the victims, I hope the rest of the council is finally willing to do the same.’

Acting like a chorus, all the Western powers, including faraway Australia, were unanimous in their conviction that Assad ‘had done it’ and they all applauded when President Trump, with lightning speed launched 69 cruise missiles against the Syrian government’s airbase at Homs on Friday April 7th morning. The American government is now directly involved in the ‘internal conflict’ between Assad’s Syrian government and so-called rebels, who are also mixed up with Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

But the mystery remains. A former head of the criminal law division of the Pentagon, Republican Senator from Virginia, Richard Black, cannot understand why Assad would ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,’ by sarin bombing civilians when everything was going his way. Chemical weapons experts say that sarin or chlorine gas can be used effectively only from the ground and not by aerial bombardment because of dispersal effects.  Senator Black suggests that ISIS was the perpetrator. ‘Only way ISIS can defeat Pres. Assad is to draw U.S. into the war. What better way than stage an attack on women and children? Why would we take the word of terrorists about the gas attack when killing innocent civilians is what they engage in, not President Assad.’

The mystery deepens further. For the last few years Trump has spoken out against American involvement in Syria. Even very recently he said that regime change in Syria was not a priority for his regime. Daryll Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association in Washington, says he is stunned that Trump changed his views on Syria in such a short time. He adds, ‘It’s not clear from the statements I have read, from the President or the Pentagon, what the purpose of the attack was. There’s a risk of escalation. The expectation of further punitive military strikes will still be there, on Trump.’

Aleksei Pushkov, communications spokesperson for the Russian Duma [parliament] cautiously criticizes the uniform Western response calling for the ouster of Assad, and adds that what surprises him is the rapid military response, almost as if there was foreknowledge of the sarin attack to come. For time voices within the American administration had been asking for such an attack . Hillary Clinton in a televised interview had demanded the bombing of Assad’s airbase at Homs as a way of strengthening the hands of the ‘rebels.’

The handlers of President Trump have made him come around to their point of view in very quick time, just as they had handled Nobel Peace Prize Winner, President Obama. He and Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, had presided over the destruction of Libya and the murder of Gaddafi. They had recorded an arms sales high of $ 278 billion, more than double that of the Bush regime. A major buyer had been Saudi Arabia, controlled by the Wahhabi cult, which has its own agenda of toppling the Shia-led Assad government in Syria, and its form of religious tolerance towards Christians and others.

If it seems very unlikely that Assad had any motive to sarin bomb his civilians, and the al-Qaeda-ISIS rebels had a much clear motive to do so, there is still confusion as to who had the weapon. However, it must be noted that as early as June 2013, ‘it was widely reported,’ according to Richard Black, ‘that Turkish border agents had arrested al Qaeda soldiers crossing from Turkey into Syria carrying 2.2 kg of Sarin poison gas.’ A sarin gas attack happened soon after near Damascus for which Assad had been blamed by Western powers. Following a huge uproar, Russia had brokered an internationally monitored deal, by which over a thousand tonnes of all chemical material that could make the poison gas were removed from Syria. However, in 2015, Turkish members of Parliament, Eren Erdem and Ali Seker blamed the Turkish authorities for supplying the gas to Syrian rebels, and were arrested for their pains. Their report was corroborated by Pulitzer prize winner and investigative journalist par excellence, Seymour Hersh in his article ‘The Red Line and the Rat line,’ in The London Review of Books, of 17 April 2014. Assad’s government continues to maintain that it does not have gas, and is innocent of any attack.

Why then are the Western powers, led by America, so certain that Assad is the culprit? Criminal investigation experts inform us that all criminals have a distinctive modus operandi, a criminal signature, by which their agency is recognized. Just as Nikki Haley held up a photo of children dying of gas attack to initial America’s direct military engagement in Syria, way back in 2003 Secretary of State Colin Powell held up a tube of anthrax in the Security Council meeting to assert Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction. After the destruction of Iraq, no such weapons were found. Even further back, in August 1964, President Lyndon Johnson blamed North Vietnam for launching torpedo boat attacks against the USS Maddox in what came to be known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident. It is now accepted that this was a false accusation, but it was used to pull America into direct war with North Vietnam.  That terrible war was fought by America to contain China. Why does America want to destroy Assad’s government in Syria?

In August 1953, the Prime Minister of Iran, Dr. Mossadeq, a popular and secular leader, was toppled by the CIA, and power was restored to the Shah of Iran, to ensure that Iranian oil remained under Western control. Since that time, American policy in the Middle East has been dictated by the interests of American corporates to retain full control over the energy resources of the region. Hawks and doves, Presidents Bush and Obama, have been relentless in destroying comparatively progressive regimes as existed in Iraq and Libya, and supporting not only the regressive Saudi regime, but they have studiously cultivated, financed and armed terrorist fundamentalists such as the Mujaheedin and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and later, more covertly al-Qaeda and the ISIS. To close the ring round Middle Eastern oil, Assad must be removed and a pliant government or chaos put in place. Iran would be isolated and could be brought to heel.

Another key Western strategic aim is to keep Russia from having access to the Middle East. The Crimean War of 1856 was fought precisely for the same reason, the general public gulled as usual by falsehoods into taking a jingoistic position. Senator Richard Black has exposed American falsehoods. The young and talented Tulsi Gabbard, a practicing Hindu and a Democratic Representative from Hawaii, has introduced a bill in Congress: ‘Stop Arming Terrorist Act,’ which is gathering bipartisan support from many Congressmen. Tulsi Gabbard says:

“For years, the U.S. government has been supporting armed militant groups working directly with and often under the command of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government. Rather than spending trillions of dollars on regime change wars in the Middle East, we should be focused on defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and using our resources to invest in rebuilding our communities here at home.”

 “The fact that American taxpayer dollars are being used to strengthen the very terrorist groups we should be focused on defeating should alarm every Member of Congress and every American.  We call on our colleagues and the Administration to join us in passing this legislation.”

If this sounds like a Hollywood-scripted conspiracy theory, it is worth quoting William Blum, who wrote in the authoritative Foreign Policy Journal, of Jan 10, 2014:

And let me tell you about American leaders. In power, they don’t think the way you and I do. They don’t feel the way you and I do….It would, moreover, be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

Not exactly the grand savior our sad old world is yearning for. (Oh, did I mention that Washington’s policies create a never-ending supply of terrorists?) And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club when she wrote that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”

For ‘American national security’ one can read ‘the interests of corporates’ who control the American administration. As a foot-note, it might interest Indian readers to know that  sarin gas, the usage of which in Syria could lead the world into another large-scale war, is closely related to chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate, first developed by Nazi scientists, and now a lethal element in pesticides, which has been banned in America since 2000, but is easily available in India as Dursban marketed by Dow Chemicals. In 2003, The Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi,  found traces of Dursban in India manufactured Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, well above acceptable norms.

(The writer is a reputed thinker and humanist who lives at Ketti, The Nilgiris)

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Pic Talk: US President Donald Trump In Swim Suit

California Based company has come up with a swim suit featuring Donald Trump for bachelors for this summer.

California: Images of US President Donald Trump in swim suit is going viral on social media.Swim suit contours your form and is meant to flatter as per the company designed it.

Here are the images of Donald Trump in swim suit with an enlarged picture printed with one piece.

 

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PM Modi, Donald Trump Meet on June 26th

PM Narendra Modi will meet US President Donald trump on June 26th for bilateral talks

Washington: According to the foreign Ministry, PM Modi was invited to Washington to meet Trump on June 26th for bilateral talks.
In a press release, the Ministry said that on the invitation of President of US, PM Modi will visit Washington on June 25-26, 2017.

This will be the first visit by Modi’s after Trump became President on January 20th, 2017. Two leaders have spoken on phone three times prior to this and this visit assumes importance in the wake of the decisions of the US Government in the case of H1 B Visas norms and US pulling out of Paris Agreement.

“Their meet will provide a new direction on issues of mutual interests and consolidation of a multi-dimensional strategic ties between India and US” MEA said.

PM Modi last visited US in June last year and Ex President Obama visited India as Chief Guest in Republic Day function.

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US To Host Modi Later This Month

Though Modi had visited the US thrice during Obama’s regime, this would be his first visit under Trump Administration.

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be hosted by the US in Washington later this month. The State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert told media,” We look forward to having Indian Prime Minister here in Washington- I believe it’s later this month.”

Modi would be travelling to Washington at the invitation of US President Donald Trump for a meeting at the White House later this month. However, the actual dates of the meeting are yet to be announced.

It would be Modi’s first trip to the US under the Trump regime. The two leaders are said to have spoken over the phone for at least three times.

Modi visited the US during previous Obama Administration and had a record number of eight meetings with Barack Obama.  While Modi visited Washington three times, Obama made a historic trip to India as chief guest at the Republic Day celebration in 2015.

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Climate Change Efforts Get Severely Hit By Trump’s Decision

The decision of Donald Trump to withdraw from the agreement on climate changes will adversely affect the ongoing work.

The US President Trump’s decision to quit the Paris Agreement will certainly deal a death blow to the climate change efforts envisaged by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Considering his stance on climate change, his decision did not spring any surprise. He raised doubts about climate change on several occasions and even termed it a hoax aimed at weakening the American industry.

The argument of hoax, if placed by a developing or an underdeveloped country, would have garnered some support by its counterparts even today since none of them are on a level playing field with the wealthy nations in terms of industrialization and development. These countries, having felt that the industrialization could alleviate poverty by way of providing employment and take their country to a next level on economic front, began setting up industries without showing much concern for the environment.  Perhaps, there was not much awareness about the repercussions of the reckless industrialization. However, the awareness emerged among the people of developed nations about the environmental consequences early in the sixties, grown into movements for protection of environment on a global scale. Against this backdrop, whenever the environmental issues called for the attention of the developing and underdeveloped nations on international platforms, they would perceive a conspiracy in the arguments of the richer nations on the grounds that the latter were trying to contain industrial development and thereby eradication of poverty in their countries.

Indira seeks equitable share of environmental costs

Speaking at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held way back in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972, the then Prime Minister of India and the leader of Non-aligned movement Indira Gandhi observed that “The rich countries may look upon development as the cause of environmental destruction, but to us it is one of the primary means of improving the environment for living, or providing food, water, sanitation and shelter, of making the deserts green and the mountains habitable.”  She maintained that the countries with but a small fraction of the world population consume the bulk of the world’s production of minerals, fossil fuels and so on. She further asked the conference whether there would be a more equitable sharing of environmental costs and greater international interest in the accelerated progress of the less developed world. Her speech reflected the opinions of several participant nations.  Despite reservations, many countries including India agreed to follow Stockholm convention’s 26 principles concerning environment and development.

Coming a long way since then, the environmental protection movement both by the international bodies and the activists brought about a remarkable change in the mindset of almost all the countries that climate change has a bearing on the entire globe, not limiting to a particular region of the sphere. Having realized this fact, the developing and the developed nations toned down their arguments based on conspiracy theories. It is unfortunate that the US, being the biggest carbon emitter  in the world, is now talking of conspiracies against it and calling the whole effort a hoax intended to impede its industrial growth and employment. His allegation against India and China as taking advantage from the pact is ridiculous, given the highest share of its consumption of resources and carbon emissions. That said one has to admit that these countries have their share in the carbon emissions howsoever low or high they are. Indeed, China is regarded one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases. India is going ahead with the proposals of industrialization that use fossil fuels. Of the proposed projects thermal power constitutes a major portion. The careless setting up of such plants in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana best illustrates the point.

Image Credit: New York Times

Paris Pact objectives: The US cannot shirk from obligation

The agreement is aimed at holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 20 Celsius above pre-industrial revolution levels (temperature @ 1850-1900) by 2100 with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5° Celsius. Industrialization, mining and such anthropogenic interference with nature post industrial revolution have led to the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causing the phenomenal rise in the global temperatures. The higher carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are attributed to the excessive use of fossil fuels.

According to an estimate, about 6,600 crore tonnes of carbon dioxide is being added to the carbon debt, of which the US alone accounts for 1320 crore tonnes. Interestingly, its population constitutes just 4.4 percent of the world population. The United States Environmental Protection Agency listed on its website the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Electricity production contributed 29 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, transportation by 27 per cent, industry by 21 percent and residences by 12 per cent. It goes without saying that these sectors employ or depend on fossil fuels for their energy needs.

Let us go into the important feature of the Paris Agreement. Article 9 of the Paris Agreement provides for financial assistance from the developed countries in order for the poor or developing nations to mitigate and adapt to the climate change adversaries. As the highest carbon emitting nation in the world, the US cannot abdicate its responsibility from aiding the underdeveloped. Trump may think that the Paris agreement is a non-binding, but it is certainly incumbent upon the US and upon him by virtue of his position as the President of the US for it owe a lot to humankind on account of the devastation it caused by way of wars, besides its being a contributor to the carbon emissions.

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US Withdraws From Paris Climate Deal

The Paris deal is complied by 194 countries, and the United States with its withdrawal joins the countries like Syria and Nicaragua.

Washington, D.C.: The US President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Trump said that the US would begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris agreement or an entirely new transaction when the terms are fair to the United States.

“I will work to ensure that America remains the world leader on environmental issues, but under a framework that is fair and with the burdens and responsibilities equally shared among the many nations all around the world,” Trump said.

The Paris deal is complied by 194 countries, and the United States with its withdrawal joins the countries like Syria and Nicaragua.

The United States has been leading in the efforts against climate change in the world, and former President Barrack Obama was a proponent of pollution reduction.

Compliance to the Paris accord could cost 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to the National Economic Research Associates, and this includes 440,000 manufacturing jobs, Trump said. The compliance would further lead to decimation of the vital American industries on which countless communities rely, he said.

Obama in his statement made earlier to the announcement said the nations that remained in the Paris Agreement would be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created.

“I believe the United States should be in the front of the pack,” he said.

This development is a big blow to the environmentalists who are concerned about the climate change. America’s withdrawal from the Paris deal is going to affect negatively the efforts against global warming and climate change, especially when the rest of the world is looking toward America for its leadership on this issue.

Trump described the Paris deal as a self-inflicted major economic wound. The agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, but transfers out from the United States and ships them to foreign countries, he said.

The Paris agreement hamstrings America, while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries, he said.

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Appeals Court Upholds Block on Trump’s Travel Ban

A federal court has upheld the block on Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim nations.

Washington, D.C.: A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the block on Trump’s travel ban that restricted citizens from six Muslim nations entering the country.

The Trump administration said it would go to the Supreme Court.

“The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the power and duty of the executive branch, and will seek review of this case in the United States Supreme Court,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In a 10-3 ruling, the 4th US court of Appeals passed the decision against the Trump’s executive order.

The court has pointed out that Trump as presidential candidate made many anti-Muslim statements that tell about his intentions.

“The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the decision of the divided court, which blocks the president’s efforts to strengthen this country’s national security,” Sessions said.

Trump has signed an executive order banning the six nations – Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen – from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees for about 120 days. The order stated that the immigration framework has to be tightened with these countries and that the temporary ban would allow the immigrant officials to review the rules with these nations.

Some countries are not sharing the information required to properly vet the immigrants and that these nations have to be more transparent, the order stated.

However, a judge from Hawaii blocked the President Trump’s new travel ban about two months ago. Now, the 4th Court of Appeals has upheld the block.

“Then-candidate Trump campaign statement reveal that on numerous occasions, he expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as his intent, if elected, to ban Muslims from the United States,” the court said.

The court said that the president’s power couldn’t go unchecked. “As here, when the president wields his power through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation,” the court said.

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Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey

President Donald Trump fired the FBI Director James Comey over the handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigations. But is this the real reason?
James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, arrives to testify before the Senate Intelligence Select Committee during an open hearing.

Washington, D.C.: The White House announced on Tuesday that President Donald Trump fired the FBI director James Comey, over the handling of Hillary Clinton’s email case. It has released two separate letters – one from President Donald Trump and the other from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office, the statement from the press secretary stated.

The letter also stated that Trump took the decision of firing based on the clear recommendations from both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The FBI Director James Comey has been working on the Hillary Clinton’s email case, but most importantly he has been leading the investigation on whether Trump’s team  colluded with Russians during the presidential elections.

The removal came as a shock to many experts and politicians, as it is an extraordinary decision that not every president takes, especially at a time when the FBI is working on investigations that involved the White House.

The FBI under the leadership of James Comey made a sensational decision a week before the election to reopen the Hillary Clinton’s email case. The Clinton campaign claimed that they lost election because of the reopening of the email case and blamed James Comey for his decision. Comey defended by saying that he was just following the rules.

Trump, who supported Comey’s decision at the time, has fired Comey for apparently mishandling the very same case. Experts say that it is merely a pretext to fire Comey, while the actual reason could be the FBI’s investigation into the Russian interference with the elections and collusion with Trump’s team during the elections.

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American Sikhs Welcome Order On Religious Freedom

Sikh community in the US expressed its happiness at the Executive Order granting religious freedom.

Washington: The  Sikh community in the US is happy about the executive order on religious liberty. The order only reflects the commitment of US president Donald Trump to protect religious freedom for all Americans said Jasdip Singh, a prominent member of the Sikh American community.

Alleging that certain vested sections are accusing Trump for the rise of hate crimes in the country, Singh said the motive behind their accusations are political. Further he said that, protecting religious freedom was one of the focal points of Trump’s campaign .

President Trump on Thursday signed the order on religious freedom. The order directs Treasury Department to not take ‘adverse action’ against churches or religious organisations for political speech.

Singh was only American Sikh to be invited to attend Trump’s address on the National Day of Prayer in the Rose Garden of the White House. Singh claimed that the US president is determined to unite the divided country and is against hate crime.

Observing that religious freedom is a crucial issue for the American majority, he said that it’s not the government’s job to censor what is acceptable or unacceptable speech.

“Under the first amendment, individuals do have a right to speech that the listener disagrees with and to speech that is offensive and hateful,” Singh said.

During his election campaign, Trump promised to scrap the Johnson Amendment, which bans organisations like churches that have tax exemptions from political speech and activities.

His executive order relaxes IRS enforcement of that ban.  The executive order, called “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty,” also gives “regulatory relief” to companies that object to an Obamacare mandate for contraception in health care.

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Donald Trump’s First 100 Days Of Presidency

US President Donald Trump completes the first hundred days in office trying to deliver on election promises with little luck.

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington (DC):The US President Donald Trump waited as eagerly as the media did for his first 100th day at his office. His remarks about the milestone lately only increased its significance. For Trump, it’s the time to show his achievements, and for the media, it’s a chance to record his performance.

Trump hastily announced his tax reforms without many details only to push in one more of his promises in the final days before his hundredth day. He said he achieved a lot in his first hundred days.

“President Trump’s successes are unmatched in recent presidential history,” his tweet referred to TV Anchor Lou Dobbs’ statement.

Everyday in Trump’s presidency was eventful with one or the other controversy. As soon as he took office he began signing executive orders one after the other, sometimes in haste creating chaos and at other times facing rebuke and fierce opposition from Democrats and also from fellow Republicans. His interactions with media have become confrontational at times. Shawn Spicer, his media person, found it hard to defend Trump at the press briefings.

His gaffes dominated the discussions in the mainstream media. Experts argued that his rhetoric caused violence and encouraged racism. He slowly softened his rhetoric and started preparing for speeches, which is quite uncharacteristic of him.

Coming to his achievements, during his first hundred days at office he touched many issues, worked on a few issues, but accomplished little.

Trump has won the election promising more jobs. His slogan was “Make America Great Again.” He also promised to protect the borders, take care of the illegal immigrants, and make large tax cuts. He took the side of the workers and said, “Hire American, Buy American.”

His protectionism resulted in travel ban on a few countries, considered to be in warring zone, causing chaos among immigrants. He soon realized checks on his power, when a judge challenged his travel ban. His team reviewed and accommodated a few recommendations provided by the Circuit Court and brought out a new travel ban only to be challenged again by another judge. He accused the judge for his failure to enforce the order.

Trump wanted to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States. He said Mexico would pay for the wall. However, nothing concrete happened in his hundred days at office, so instead he turned toward Canada and NAFTA. As Gwenda Blair, professor at Columbia University, has put it — Trump has always believed in positive thinking, and he attaches himself to success and ignores or diverts others from his failures.

He also wanted to reform the immigration system to support the merit-based approach. He signed an executive order ordering the federal department to come up with proposals to reform the H1B visa, a program that allows foreign workers to temporarily work in the country.

Trump has also been unpredictable at times. Experts argued that he took decisions on fly without much thinking, planning and without a clear strategy. They questioned his strategy behind Syrian bombings, and his plan for Afghanistan.

The allegations that Russians have interfered in the elections and later reports that the Trump campaign had ties with Russia during the elections have made Trump weak early in his administration. Senators like John McCain and Lindsay Graham raised doubts about the ties and supported for a complete probe into the matter. Trump consistently denied Russian ties and blamed media for misleading Americans. However, in the midst of the allegations he had to remove his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. His administration said that Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the meetings he had with Russian officials. Trump said that Flynn had done nothing wrong.

Russian ties have been his biggest challenge and how he comes out of it has to be seen.

Trump’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare along with House Speaker Paul Ryan has been unsuccessful. His own party leaders have refused to support the replacement plan to Obamacare, adding yet another failure to Trump’s list of failures.

Trump has touched many issues, but has achieved little. Having said that, a Hundred days is a short period for any presidential term to draw any kind of conclusions.

 

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A nuclear holocaust?

An American clairvoyant believes that the Third World War will begin between May 13 and October 13 this year. Horacio Villegas sees war clouds gathering around the world and warns us to be prepared for a nuclear holocaust. The major players are the US, Russia and China while North Korea and Syria are powder kegs, says the psychic in a chilling warning.

TALKING POINT

Madhusudhana Rao S

Believe it or not, the countdown for World War III has started! That’s what an American clairvoyant claims and his chilling predictions are being flashed all over the world, particularly in the social media.

The clock is ticking for the start of the Third World War, the mystic Horacio Villegas, who is said to have accurately predicted the victory of Donald Trump as US President way back in 2015, said. He told British newspaper Daily Star recently that the war would start between May 13th and October 13, 2017. The self-proclaimed ‘supernatural being’ said his calculations were based on prophesies, visions and study of the Bible.

Without mincing words, the psychic explained to the Daily Star: “On the 100th anniversary of the visitation of Our Lady of Fatima – the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus – which is May 13, the World War III will begin … Between May 13th and October 13, 2017, this war will occur and be over with much devastation, shock and death! I saw balls of fire falling from the sky and hitting the Earth in my dream (vision)”.

Interestingly, Villegas saw the spark that would trigger the WWIII. He foresaw an American attack on Syria that would suck Russia, China and North Korea into the conflict. (It’s not clear whether he was referring to Tomahawk missile strikes against Syria earlier this month).

Villegas also foresees the US attacking North Korea in the widening of the conflict. He corroborates his prophecies with those made by French clairvoyant Nostradamus in the 16th century. Nostradamus had said, “Mabus will soon die, and then will come, a horrible undoing of people and animals, at once one will see vengeance, one hundred powers, thirst, famine, when the comet will pass.”

Villegas thinks Mabus is none other than Syrian President Bashar Al Assad who will be killed in a bomb attack which in turn will worsen the war. He told the Daily Star that “devastating attacks based on false information” would occur between April 13 and May 13 on Syria and North Korea” leading to the Third World War.

Call it a coincidence or the Stars are ganging up against the human beings, Villegas’ description of D-Day scenario followed President Trump’s surprise military actions in Syria and Afghanistan.

In the past fortnight, Trump surprised the global community with Tomahawk missile strikes against Syria, followed by dropping ‘Mother of all bombs’ on Islamic State hideouts in Afghanistan and dispatched an armada to Korean waters to warn North Korea against testing a nuclear device. The triple action has the familiar ring of the shock-and-awe military strategy followed by former President George W Bush against Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003.

On April 6, 2017, Trump had ordered a devastating missile strike against an air base in Syria to ‘punish’ President Bashar Al Assad for unleashing terror on his own civilian population with chemical bombs. The number of casualties, estimated in hundreds, has been disputed. In fact, Syria challenged the American claim that the government forces had used the banned chemical agents to terrorize the people and blamed the rebels for the attack.

Whoever was responsible for the heinous crime, the world condemned it and perfunctorily called for resolution of the six-year-old civil war. But the most important point strategic analysts have not missed is the direct American intervention in Syria for the first time since 2011 when people started denouncing and revolting against the Bashar regime.

Whether Trump has walked into another quagmire in Middle East with Tomahawk strikes only history could tell. But as of now, it seems the missile attack is one-off, although the proxy war is going on between Washington and the Kremlin on Syrian battlefields. Post-strike, Trump’s Syrian policy is non-committal. He merely said, he had ordered the missile strike because he was moved by the horrible images of children and women choking on poison gas. Could it be considered as a reflex action to teach a totalitarian regime a lesson or send a strong signal that the Big Brother is watching and doesn’t hesitate to step in?

Six days later, on April 13, the US dropped the ‘Mother of all Bombs,’ said to be the most powerful conventional bomb in the Super Power’s arsenal, on a cave cluster of Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan. Again, it was a surprise, coming on the heels of intense Syrian strike. However, there was a difference between the two: while the Syrian missile attack was carried out on Trump’s order, the Pentagon unleashed the fury of the ‘Mother of all Bombs’ on ISIS fighters under additional powers Trump had given it to use extra fire power whenever and wherever the military deemed it necessary.

While the missile attack and the bombing mission were aimed at decapitating the Islamic fighters operating from these two countries, Trump has decided to confront another ‘rogue’ nation North Korea. On April 10, he dispatched a US Navy strike group to waters near the Korean Peninsula. Led by USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, the armada consists of two guided missile destroyers, a guided missile cruiser and an attack submarine. By any stretch of imagination, it was not a part of war preparedness, but a warning to North Korean leaders who are threatening to test a powerful nuclear device and conducted several missile tests with a warning to the US.

Pyongyang’s tactics are not new and its neighbours and allies like China are familiar with North Korean leaders’ jingoistic talk, particularly at the time of national celebrations. It’s no different this time. But what the North Korean helmsman Kim Jong-un has not realized is the man sitting in the White House is a maverick and brooks no nonsense.

Ever since North Korea has embarked upon its ambitious missile and nuclear weapons program in the 1990s, the West, led by the US, has been warning North Korea against developing ‘weapons of mass destruction’ and their launchers. Saying the interests of the US and its Asian allies like Japan and South Korea are threatened by North’s weapons program, Washington has been trying to rein in Pyongyang through UN sanctions and multi-country talks without much success. North Korea’s forte is sabre-rattling and aggressive military posturing to deter the US from initiating strong action.

In recent months, North Korea has tested many missiles –short, medium and long – and paraded them on April 15 at celebrations marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father Kim Il Sung as a show of its military might. It is also preparing for another such celebration on April 25 to mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its military and it is expected that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would order a nuclear test to coincide with the event.

President Trump is concerned about North Korea’s ‘threats to free world” and conveyed US unease to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping during the latter’s American visit on April 7. US officials know, of course, that China would do nothing against North Korean interests, particularly in security and geopolitical matters.

Not surprisingly, a day after US missile strikes against Syria, North Korea had declared it would strengthen its air defences and stressed the need for nuclear weapons to protect itself against US moves towards war.

Meanwhile, both China and Russia are watching the movements of American Navy ships in Korean waters amidst reports of Trump seeking suggestions from top advisors on “removing the “threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

Are war clouds gathering around the world? Villegas’ foreboding has gained traction with numerologists matching the dates of the beginning of the World War I and the US missile strike against Syria.

If we believe that history has a strange way of repeating itself, the United States plunged into WW I on April 6, 1917. Exactly a century later, the US struck Syria with missiles, an act Villegas believes would lead to WWIII.

Though there are no parallels between the circumstances prevailing at that time and now that compelled Washington to go into the first global conflict, doomsayers are quick to draw conclusions for two reasons: One, the mercurial and unpredictable behavior of President Trump. Two, his decision to strike military bases of Syrian government forces that looked like a knee-jerk reaction without thinking of the long-term consequences.

As analysts have pointed out, Trump had opposed direct American intervention in the Syrian conflict before he was elected President. None could explain why he had gone back on his earlier policy. Nevertheless, there was no applause for his derring-do either from Washington’s European allies or Arab friends in the Middle East because no leader is sure of his next move.

Whatever the consequences of his actions are, the doomsday scenario is not likely to dawn upon us in the next few months, if we go by what a Bulgarian psychic had said. Known as Baba Vanga, who died in 1996, had predicted the end of the world in 3797. Apparently, the visually impaired mystic had forecast 9/11, tsunami, emergence of ISIS, Arab Spring revolution, etc with 85 per cent accuracy.

OK. The world won’t end. But a war is still possible!

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Trump Son-In-Law To Be Questioned On Russian Ties

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington: As part of the ongoing investigation regarding the Russian intervention in the 2016 election process, the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to question Trump’s son-in-law, the White House Counsel announced.

Jared Kushner, close adviser to President Trump and Ivanka Trump’s husband, met with the Russian Ambassador Sergey.I.Kislyak in December. Later, Kushner’s deputy met with the ambassador during the presidential transition.

Kushner also met with the chief of Vneshconombank, a top bank in Russia, on which the United States imposed sanctions after Russia had occupied Crimea, and interfered in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

Kushner has agreed to appear before the committee, according to a White House spokesperson.

This is the first time that any close associate of President Trump or anyone currently working in the White House is appearing before the Senate to testify on Russian ties or any other investigations.

Michael Flynn, former national security adviser, Paul Manafort, campaign manager for Donald Trump, were also asked to appear before the Senate intelligence committee regarding the Russian investigations, but they are not currently working in the White House. Flynn resigned as security adviser for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the details of his meeting with Russian diplomats. The communication interceptions by FBI confirm talks between them about the Russian sanctions, which Flynn denied.

During the presidential transition, Kushner was acting as a conduit between the foreign governments and the Trump team, and it is not unusual for any person in that capacity to meet with world leaders and representatives.

According to the New York Times, a White House spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, confirmed that nothing of any consequence was discussed during the meetings and that they went nowhere. She said that there were no indications that these meetings were the focus of the investigations.

A probe into a possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian officials in order to manipulate the election process began this month by the FBI after the bureau had gone through some considerable evidence that suggested further investigations into the matter.

The meetings with Russian Ambassador and other diplomats during and after presidential elections have caused a headache to the Trump administration.

Earlier, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from any inquiries related to Russian ties, as he also met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak during the elections.

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Major Defeat for Trump: Obamacare Repeal fails

Washington: The health care plan proposed by the Trump administration, as a replacement of Obamacare, failed in the House on March 24. President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have left no coin unturned to get the bill through the House, yet they failed to obtain 216 votes required to pass the bill.

President Trump looked frustrated in the press conference, when he said that they fell short of about 10 to 15 members. Obamacare is imploding and would soon fail, Trump said. He said he wanted a healthcare that works for all Americans.

He said all he had to do was just wait till Obamacare explodes, and then he said the Democrats would come to request him to rescue the healthcare. Now, the Democrats completely own Obamacare, Trump said.

The affordable health care act bill backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump administration is a three-pronged bill. Only the first part was introduced in the House. The bill aimed to repeal Obamacare and replace it.

Trump campaigned against Obamacare and its increasing premiums during elections. He promised the Americans that he would repeal the healthcare, as it was failing. However, in all practical terms the repealing proved to be more difficult than the Trump administration had imagined.

Repealing Obamacare without an immediate replacement would throw millions out of insurance. So, the administration came up with a replacement plan. Trump’s Health Secretary Tom Price and Paul Ryan have worked together on the plan. They explained it to fellow Republicans and tried to convince to pass the bill in the House. Had the bill passed, the next step would have been to move the bill to Senate for its approval, and if succeeded, then the last step of president signing the bill into law. But the bill has failed in its first phase.

The president has done everything he could, Sean Spicer said in the press conference. At the end of the day, he cannot force people to vote for him, he said.

Paul Ryan, disappointed with the results, said they couldn’t get the consensus. However, he said they would move forward and work on the other issues, such as immigration and tax reforms.

Trump had also promised massive tax cuts for the middle class during his campaign. But first Obamacare has to be repealed before implementing tax reforms, he said many times, pushing the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

The government spends a lot of money toward healthcare, more than its defense. The bill proposed massive cuts in the federal payment to Medicaid, a health program for old and disabled people. All this would have provided budget for the tax reforms that Trump planed to bring after the health repeal bill.

Now that the health bill is rejected in the House, the tax reforms will have to be limited. And as per the administration, there is no plan to revise or reintroduce the health bill in the Congress in the near future.

The Trump administration will move on to other issues, such as immigration and infrastructure. And for now Obamacare will remain the law of the land.

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A Judge Challenges Trump’s New Travel Ban

Washington, D.C.: A federal judge from Hawaii on Wednesday blocked the new travel ban that President Donald Trump ordered after the Court of Ninth Circuit had blocked his original order.

Trump and his associates have framed a new travel plan after reviewing the ruling passed by the Court of Ninth Circuit, and narrowed down the new ban considerably compared to their original travel ban, including the exclusion of Iraq from the list of banned countries. The new ban was also made constitutionally strong.

Trump responded to the blocking in his speech at Nashville, Tennessee, saying that the ban is an act of “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

“I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way,” he said.

The order he blocked was water down version of the first order, Trump said. “This new order was tailored to the dictates to the ninth circuit’s, in my opinion, fraud ruling,” he said.

The US district judge Derrick Watson said his rulings apply nationwide. In his 43-page order he stated to the effect that Trump’s new executive order was intended to restrict Muslim immigration.

“The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally fraud,” he wrote.

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Trump’s Merit-Based System: Only Best on H1-B Visa

Washington, D.C.: Trump’s administration wanted to move toward merit-based immigration system to get the brightest and “the best” from all around the world, said Tom Cotton, Republican senator from Arkansas, who spoke to MSNBC on Wednesday, after his meeting with President Trump to discuss the immigration bill that he and David Purdue introduced.

The president wants to get the very best from around the world, he said.

Cotton said that often programs that include green cards (EB1, EB2) and H1B visas are not implemented in the way that is consistent with their purposes. Many Americans believe that the present immigration system has allowed many low-skilled workers that have taken away their jobs.

“They don’t bring in PHDs and computer scientists. They replace mid-level data management workers,” Cotton said, referring to the immigration staff.

President Trump expressed the same when he spoke before the Congress last week. Trump, Tom Cotton and David Purdue discussed the immigration bill that would, according to Cotton, refocus on legal immigration system on high skilled immigrants who come into the country with “English-language competency, education at higher levels and higher level of job skills” that will make them able to contribute to the economy.

Right now only one out of 15 immigrants that we get through immigration system come through such criteria, he said.

The president wants to move in the direction of, for instance Canada and Australia. “Our legislation is the first step in that,” he said.

“Additional steps are based on employment-based visas and green cards and we are going to work on that,” Cotton said.

Referring to Americans, he said people are losing their jobs in companies like Disney, Southern California and Edison, and they are being replaced by foreign workers who are not necessarily high skilled. There is no job that Americans won’t do with the right pay they do any job, he said.

“We have to focus on Americans getting back to jobs and with higher wages,” Cotton said.

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Blocking Media, A Sign Of Authoritarianism

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington (DC): At the press conference when President Donald Trump announced his labor secretary nominee, his peevish face reflected his discomfort standing in front of the media. Trump has always felt so, but regardless that day spent more than an hour with press answering questions and said that he was enjoying the session.

That day, Trump was fixated on blaming media for almost everything that went wrong in his then 3-week presidency. He was unhinged. He accused news media of being dishonest and fake. Talking about the allegations of his election campaign colluding with Russia, he said Russia is a ruse created by the media. On another topic, quitting of his secretary of state, Michael Flynn, he said media had treated him unfairly.

Then on February 17th he tweeted that fake news is the “enemy of the American people.” His attack on media cannot be dismissed as just intolerance toward the news he dislikes. It is not just the news media he is after. He also at times aimed at judiciary. He abused the judge from Washington State for temporarily stopping his executive order.

Is this how authoritarians and fascists start? Suppress judiciary and free press – the two institutions that hinder misuse of power or becoming a powerhouse–and use fear-mongering politics to suppress any other revolting forces, such as public protests? The history has given us many such authoritarians who used the same tactics to rule the roost, but no one would have imagined that such threat could pose to the world’s strongest democracy.

Strategies that work to entrench authoritarians are being followed here, and one can see that the history being repeated. However, the institutions are strong enough to withstand any such attempt, unlike many nascent democracies in the world.

Trump has given national security his top priority — safety of the Americans is his highest responsibility. Citing  the example of Chicago, he has always said the city has become dangerous. On February 23rd he tweeted as follows:

Such fear-mongering politics is a sign of authoritarianism. On February 24th, the White House has blocked a few major mainstream news agencies from entering and attending the briefing given by the press secretary. Such a step of that scale is the first in the recent history. It is a threat to democracy. After all, it is the responsibility of the press secretary to treat all the news agencies equally and address the briefings.

Such an attack on the news media is yet another sign of authoritarian regime. Interestingly, Trump is not trying to attack all of the news media. Every time he goes ballistic with media, he sites an example where he says a particular network covered his news properly, and then rants on other media outlets. It could be a way to make all of the media to fall in line. The following is one of many tweets he made accusing media:

In favor of Trump, Media has committed many mistakes in the past, and they were wrong many times. In the press conference, Trump faulted media for mistakenly reporting the absence of the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the oven office. However, such mistakes and many more shouldn’t cost the right to report news.

Even Barrack Obama had issues with FOX News and even tried to stop the network from covering the White House at one time, but he never crossed his limits to accuse and ridicule the agency openly. Obama and his press secretary had always tried to give fair chance to all the news media. Even the Fox News host Shepard Smith has agreed so, and said that CNN is not fake news.

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Trump’s National Security Advisor Resigns

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington D.C.: Michael Flynn has resigned as national security advisor amidst allegations that he had illegal discussions with Russian diplomats on US sanctions imposed on Russia by Barrack Obama as president during Trump’s transition, and that Flynn has misled the Trump’s White House, especially Vice President Mike Pence, about these discussions.

Trump has evaluated Flynn’s case, and as per the reports he had lost trust in his advisor. It’s not yet clear whether General Flynn has resigned on his own or was asked by the president to quit, but more importantly the resignation raises the question of how much does Trump know about these discussions.

“I advertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Mike Flynn apologized in a statement.

According to Kellyanne Conway, the key aid was misleading the vice president with incomplete information or inability to recall of what did or did not happen in his debriefing of his phone calls.

The White House indicated that Flynn’s resignation is because of his violation of protocol of letting his boss know about the full details of his meeting with foreign officials. This, however, doesn’t obviate the very charge on Flynn of his secret discussion with Russian Ambassador while Russia is allegedly attacking the US.

Democrats argue that Flynn’s resignation doesn’t resolve the problem of the matter. They want to know what the president knew and when.

Obama has imposed sanctions on Russia after the intelligence agencies had come forward with details on Russia’s involvement in the US elections. Russia has reacted in an unprecedented way to these sanctions denying its involvement and aspiring good relations under the new administration of Donald Trump.

The reaction has given boost to the previously raised questions on Vladimir Putin’s support and praise for Trump, and a possibility of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, prompting Democrats to ask for a serious investigation into the case.

Democrats demand an explanation from President Trump on the resignation and criticize Trump and Republicans for their silence on the Russian issue.

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Appeals Court Rules Against Trump’s Travel Ban

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington, D.C. – The court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit on Thursday ruled 3-0 against travel ban that President Donald Trump has imposed using his executive order. Reacting to the court’s decision, Trump tweeted, “See you in court, the security of the nation is at stake.”

Trump administration may take the case to the Supreme Court, as his tweet suggests. In such scenario, the court may either accept the case or send the case back to the District Court for review.

“It’s a political decision and we will see them in court, and I look forward to doing it,” said Trump to a reporter after the decision. “We’ll win the case”

When asked if he thought the judges made a political decision, Trump said, “ We have a situation where the security of our country is at stake. And it’s a very, very serious situation, so we look forward – as I just said – to seeing them in court.”

A federal judge in Washington State on February 3rd temporarily restrained nationwide the travel ban that Trump issued through his executive order, which restricted citizens from seven Muslim countries – Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen – from entering the United States for a 90-day period.

The case went to the ninth circuit of the Appeals Court and three judges have heard the lawyers from both the Washington State and from the Trump administration. Two Republican and one Democratic former president – Barrack Obama, George Bush, and Jimmy Carter — appointed these judges. The decision was unanimous, as three judges voted against the ban.

The ban is not only unpopular among the Democrats, but also among several Republicans. The unpopularity may trouble Trump even if the case is accepted in the Supreme Court. One other possibility that Trump may go for is to cancel the current executive order on ban and order a new one that can withstand constitutionally in any court by removing some controversial elements, such as restricting green card holders from those seven countries.

But for now, the decision is a relief for all those citizens from these seven countries who want to enter the United States.

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US Indian Communities Panic Over H1B Visa Reform

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington: Chaos and confusion have donned on the Indian communities in the United States after Trump had signed the executive order on immigration banning seven Muslim countries. The communities, especially the techies, have become anxious about the possibility of Trump signing another order on H-1B visa program.

Adding to the heat, the news of a bill that was introduced in the House of Representative on January 24th by Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren regarding the amendment of H-1B and L-1 visa program made the H-1B community jittery.

President Donald Trump has promised during the election campaign that he would amend the H-1B visa – increase the minimum wage on H-1B from $60,000 to $100,000, and limit the number of visas issued annually. As he intends to fulfill his election promises one by one, the H-1B visa holders fear that he would soon get to amend the visa program. Whether Trump waits for the Congress to act upon the amendment proposal or uses his executive order is the question that is making many visa holders restless. 

The White House is already facing a lot of pressure on the executive order Trump has signed recently on immigration. The House has defended by saying that the ban is not a ban, but an improvement to the existing vetting process. At this time, will they be willing to go for another executive order that is going to impact and disrupt many lives? Only Trump and his team may have an answer to this question at this time.

However, the president may also choose to wait and support the Congress to amend the visa program and make it a law. There are already a few bills in the Congress introduced and proposed by many Congressmen.

Potential Impact Unnerves H-1B Holders

The impact on visa community depends on which path the amendments take place. If Donald Trump uses executive order, the impact is hard to imagine. Going by his election promise, the minimum wage for H1B holder would raise to $100,000.

However, if the Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017introduced by Zoe Lofgren, shapes into a law, the minimum wage rises to $130,000, which is more than double the current wage requirement to exempt from non-displacement and attestation, creating a massive impact.

According to Lofgren, any such increase in wages remove the “per country” cap for employment based immigrant visas and allows employers to seek out best around the world.

Another bill introduced by Republican representative from California Darrell Issa on January 4th, might also see light, which could amend visa program, but not as aggressively as the bill by Lofgren.

Indian IT Companies Most Affected

Indian outsourcing companies are the most affected by the potential dangers of the amendments than the technology giants, such as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, where the wages are relatively higher than that of Indian IT companies.

Infosys, Wipro, and Tata Services, take the maximum hit by the amendments, the stocks of which have already fallen by about 9 percent. According to The Economic Times the companies are already looking at Chinese markets.

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Trump Imposes Temporary Ban on 7 Muslim Countries

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington: President Donald Trump signed executive order on Friday to temporarily ban citizens of seven Muslim nations. According to the order, the citizens of the listed countries are not allowed to enter or reenter the United States of America for at least next 90 days. Trump team, in the meantime, plans to explore strategies of how to deal with the immigrants from these countries. The order has created uncertainty and chaos among immigrant communities.

The order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into United States” has included Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya in its banned terror-prone list. An estimated 134 million citizens of the listed countries are not permitted to enter the United States under this order. In addition, about hundreds of thousands of American visa-holders are impacted by the order. According to Propublica, Some 500,000 citizensof these seven countries have obtained permanent resident status in the past decade and about 25,000 have received temporary employment or student visas.

According to CNN, the list could grow and this order is just a starting point for a broader ban. Trump has also banned refugees for about four months. The order has also limited the number of refugees entering the country to 50,000 for 2017, which previously was capped at some 110,000 under the presidency of Barrack Obama.

“We don’t want them here,” Trump said during the signing ceremony. He also ordered the secretary of Homeland Security to make the vetting and screening process even tighter.

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Donald Trump Sworn in as 45th American President

Venkata Kondubhatla

Washington: Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States of America on Friday at around noon under a cloudy sky along with Michael Pence, who took the office as vice president.

Trump after taking oath on Lincoln Bible and his family Bible gave a 17-minute inaugural speech in which he described his victory as people’s victory. With Former President Barrack Obama sitting behind him, he said the American carnage would stop. Time for empty talk is over and the time for action has begun, he said.

Trump’s speech was much the same as his any other campaign speeches at least in the beginning – divisive, targeting the previous governments and patriotic. On the positive side though, his speech was plain and simple and should appeal to the audience who are “forgotten.” Making an effort for unity, he said, patriotism should overcome the prejudices in Washington, D.C.

Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent in 2016 election, attended the ceremony. Her presence was appreciated by Trump at the inaugural luncheon. A standup ovation was given to both Bill and Hillary Clinton for their presence. Including Bill Clinton four former presidents were present at the ceremony except for George.H.W.Bush, who was hospitalized for pneumonia.

The transfer of power was smooth. President Trump saw Barrack and Michelle Obama off, as they flew to California, where they plan to spend sometime before moving back to Washington, D.C. The ceremony was followed by luncheon and parade.

“Republican or Democrat, we are all good people,” Trump said during inaugural luncheon speech.

Except for a few protests against the inaugural ceremony a few blocks away from the ceremony in Washington, D.C., in which about 90 people were arrested, the ceremony took place smoothly.

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