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Mitt Romney Now Challenges Donald Trump by Joining Anti-Racism Protests in Washington

On Sunday (local time), Romney wearing a mask marched along with thousands of protesters along Pennsylvania Avenue demanding justice for George Floyd who died in Minneapolis.

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A day after US President Donald Trump withdrew the National Guard from the streets of Washington DC claiming to have the situation under control, Republican Senator Mitt Romney became one the few Republicans to publicly say “Black Lives Matter”.

On Sunday (local time), Romney wearing a mask marched along with thousands of protesters along Pennsylvania Avenue demanding justice for African-American George Floyd who died in Minneapolis nearly two weeks ago, The Washington Post reported.

Though it is unclear as to when did Romney joined the agitators or when he left the group, he was present when the marchers passed by the Trump International Hotel. At one point of the march, he like many other protesters posted a selfie on his Instagram handle with caption “Black Lives Matter”.

The death of Floyd on May 25 has sparked a worldwide movement against police brutality, racism and social injustice, as a video showing a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck after the latter had been arrested was widely circulated online on the next day.

Additionally, Americans by a 2-to-1 margin are more troubled by the actions of police in the killing of black man George Floyd than by violence at some protests, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Overwhelming majorities of 80 per cent also felt that the country is spiralling out of control, said the poll, conducted among 1,000 registered voters from May 28 to June 2.

The poll also reveals striking partisan divides in how voters view a pair of unfolding national crises, including the unrest sparked by the killing of Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who was in police custody, as well as the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed more than 109,000 lives so far in the United States.

Nearly three-quarters of Democrats, 74 per cent, said it may take the next year or even longer to curb Covid-19 and return to work as normal. By contrast, among President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters within the Republican Party, 32 per cent said the coronavirus is already contained.

About half of all Republicans, 48 per cent, said they were more concerned about the protests than the circumstances of Floyd’s killing, while 81 per cent of Democrats held the opposite opinion.

However, the crises appear to have had little impact on Trump’s standing as his job approval rating stood at 45 per cent, down 1 percentage point from April, according to the poll. His 7-point deficit against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden remained unchanged. The Democrat candidate had 49 per cent support, with 42 per cent for Trump.

Trump’s biggest advantage over Biden continued to surround economic issues. When asked who would be best at cutting the unemployment rate and getting people back to work, voters picked the president, 48 per cent to 35 per cent.

Since the midterm elections–a period that included the release of the Mueller report, an impeachment, a pandemic and civil-rights upheaval–Trump’s approval rating has never dipped below 43 per cent and has never risen above 47 per cent, according to 18 polls during that time.

Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democrat Jeff Horwitt, said Trump’s standing remained stable despite the political equivalent of getting repeatedly battered by Category 5 hurricanes.

Since the last week of April, the president’s re-election campaign has spent more than USD13 million on TV and radio ads across eight battleground states and the District of Columbia, attacking Biden as soft on China while defending the president’s response to the pandemic, according to data from political ad tracker Kantar/CMAG. Over the same time, America First Action, a super PAC supporting Trump, spent about USD5 million on ads with similar messages.

But 55 per cent of voters disapproved of Trump’s handling of the virus, up from 52 per cent in April and 51 per cent in March.

Voters said they believed Biden would be better able than Trump to end political gridlock in Washington and behave competently and effectively in the job. They also viewed the Democrat as better at handling coronavirus, dealing with health-care issues and addressing the concerns of minorities.

Biden’s biggest advantage over Trump, 51 per cent to 26 per cent, was on which candidate could bring the country together. That 25-point gap compared with a 14-point advantage on the same question for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Asian News International

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US threatens Russia with consequences for paying bounties to Taliban in Afghanistan

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The US has threatened to respond if the Pentagon confirms reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. While Russia denies its involvement in any such operation, US-Russia relations could further deteriorate if the reports are confirmed.

The Pentagon is investigating reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan and if found to be true, the US has promised to retaliate. Moscow on the hand has denied involvement in any such operation.

Speaking in front of the House armed services committee, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said that the Pentagon was committed to discovering whether Russian military intelligence had paid the Taliban for attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this bounty thing. If there are bounties, I’m an outraged general, just like every one of us in uniform is,” Milley said. “That’s a real big deal. We don’t have that level of fidelity yet, but we’re still looking.”

Despite vowing to retaliate, Milley suggested that the US may not be responding to the reports as robustly as necessary in non-military ways. The 62-year old admitted that the US was perhaps not doing enough.

The issue is at the strategic level,” he said. “Is there diplomatic, and informational and economic … sanctions, are there démarches, are there phone calls, is there pressure, those sorts of things. And I can tell you that some of that is done.’’

Mark Esper, the defence secretary, was also testifying to the House armed services committee. Esper said that the reports did not come from any of the nine of the total of 17 US intelligence agencies under Pentagon’s authority, implying the information leaked to the press in recent weeks came from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or another civilian agency.

The reports first came to notice in January and were ignored because they lacked credibility. It was only in February that Gen Kenneth McKenzie and the defence secretary became aware of them in February.

Milley confirmed that the investigation is not over and promised to get to the bottom of the situation. President Donald Trump has insisted he was not briefed on the Russian bounties.

Russia Denies Involvement

While American intelligence agencies work to confirm reports, Russia denies the existence or its involvement in any such operation. Moscow says the U.S. is trying to portray Moscow as an all-purpose bogeyman.

“I would like to say officially that these allegations, distributed by the media, are downright lies. No concrete evidence has been presented,” Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said this week in an online forum with the Center for the National Interest.

Other Russian officials point out that Moscow would have little incentive to establish such a program given the high risk of getting caught.

According to NPR, the Russian military intelligence known as the GRU is believed to be behind the suspected Russian bounty program in Afghanistan. The GRU has an aggressive and high-risk culture and is hence preferred by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times was the media outlet to report about Russia secretly offering money to the Taliban in exchange for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

If confirmed, it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops and could have a severe impact on Washington-Moscow relations.

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Americas

Trump Would Not Have Supported India In A Possible War Against China – US NSA

Now that India-China border clash has been somewhat deflated, former US NSA said – I’m not sure how much he (Donald Trump) understands the significance of the (India-China) border clash.

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As India has been aggressively confronting China with the hope of finding support from Washington, former US national security advisor (NSA) – John Bolton in an exclusive interview said there is no guarantee that Trump administration would have backed New Delhi in a possible India-China border clash.

Chinese Ambassador ‘Honey-Trapped’ Nepal PM KP Sharma Oli – Indian Reports

In an exclusive interview with Wion News, Bolton said – I’m not sure how much he (Donald Trump) understands the significance of the (India-China) border clash. I don’t think he (Trump) knows anything about the history of these clashes over the decades between India and China. He (Trump) may have been briefed on it, but history doesn’t really stick with him.”

 

 

Bolton further said – I don’t know which way he would go and I don’t think he knows either. I think Trump views the geostrategic ties with China for instance exclusively through the prism of trade. And trade is important because China has lifted intellectual property from the US and other nations, engaged in powerful technology transfers and it forms a major part of their economic success and therefore military power. And that’s really how far it goes.”

I don’t know what Donald Trump will do after the US presidential elections once the guard rail is removed. He’ll be back. He won’t be criticising China for putting Uyghurs in concentration camps or repressing Hong Kong. He will be back to the big China trade deal. So, if issues were to worsen between India and China, I’m not sure where he would come down,” he added.

On being questioned – if things were to escalate between India and China there is no guarantee that Donald Trump will back India against China?” Bolton said – that is correct.” I think his instinct for the next four months (till the elections) is to do anything that could hinder his election campaign. So what he would want is quiet along the border whether it benefits China or India.

Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported citing a Chinese expert for the Global Times – China has no plan to squeeze India’s strategic space and rather aims to explore ways for peaceful co-existence.  However, the author claims that this is endangered by the strategic objectives of some Indians who want to contain China with the help of the US.

He blames the Indian media for fanning the flames between India and China. Tensions are provoked by this pressure and hence there is relentless support for India to join the US, Australia and Japan to contain China, wrote the author.

The author blames the US for destabilizing the India-China ties and claims that the US has dangerously interfered in China-India relations, such as labelling India “the world’s biggest democracy,” talking up the “Mumbai model,” and unscrupulously showing partiality towards New Delhi amid the border dispute.

The US, in particular, is fascinating India to counterbalance China and the idea of the Indo-Pacific Strategy is turning into a reality. He says that Indian elites are keen towards working with the US because they believe that by joining the US camp to contain China, they are now a world power on equal footing.

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India Bets Big On Nikki Haley To Emerge As Vice Presidential Candidate Under Trump

Nikki Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.  

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India has pinned hopes on Nikki Haley to become the US Vice President (VP) should Donald Trump get re-elected this November. Haley, a first-generation Indian American, is expected to strengthen Indo-American relation and also attract a lot of voters including women and minorities.

According to the reports, there is speculation that Trump might switch out Vice-President Mike Pence for Nikki Haley as his running mate in the hopes of boosting his lagging approval numbers among the broader electorate.

Despite resigning as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has been active in politics. She has been fundraising for Republican congressional candidates as well as in the Senate and gubernatorial arena.

She has set up a non-profit organization to boost her policy priorities and has continued to pen editorials on foreign policy. And Hailey has retained a small, tightly knit orbit of advisers.

The former governor of South Carolina, Haley is one of the people who left the Trump Administration on good terms. She has even promised to campaign for the President for his re-election bid.

Haley has echoed some of the same arguments Donald Trump has made on national topics such as cancel culture, defunding police forces and statue removal, although the tone and frequency between Trump and Haley differ dramatically.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, Haley’s recent moves can be seen as a carefully executed plan to stay involved in key Republican policy circles and the national discourse. Haley has fundraised for almost a dozen Republican Senate candidates, many of them in tough re-election races, and has been a special guest at Republican Governors Association (RGA) events.

While Haley has dismissed reports about her running for VP, her being an influential person of colour could help Trump win constituencies he is currently losing.

India pinning hopes on Nikki Haley

The US Presidential elections are a spectacle observed globally and India would be hoping Trump wins and Haley gets elected as the VP. Haley enjoys nationwide popularity amongst Indian-Americans and her election as VP could lead to stronger ties between Washington and New Delhi.

She has natural links to India with her parents having emigrated to the US in the 1960s from Punjab. Haley has often pointed out that India is an example of a free government and recently even applauded New Delhi’s decision to ban 59 Chinese applications and for standing up to China.

With an Indian-American at the helm of affairs, New Delhi would see it as an opportunity to get closer to Washington. It could lead to India benefitting in the areas of trade, defence and investment and would be a huge blow to neighbours China and Pakistan.

US Presidential elections are scheduled to take place in November and will be contested between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. While Biden’s re-election does not mean that India and the United States will have weak relations, having Trump in the White House and Haley as VP would definitely lead to stronger Indo-American ties.

Armaan Srivastava. Views Personal

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