Right-wing Group Uses Joe Biden’s Younger Brother Frank’s Nude Selfie

Posted By: Preeti Dabar Posted On: Oct 11, 2023

The right-wing nonprofit group Marco Polo, an organisation headed by former US president Donald Trump's White House aide Garrett Ziegler, found a nude selfie of Frank Biden, the US President Joe Biden's younger brother, on a dating site, mostly used by gay people and has used it to bring the Biden family under scrutiny ahead of the elections.

“I've absolutely no comment. I could care less. I haven't even looked at it. They must have hacked my phone. Anything that is a revealing picture of some kind is between Mindy and me. I really don't want to start my day off this way. Definitely didn't post it anywhere,” Frank Biden said.

Mindy Ward is Frank Biden's partner and both of them have been together since 2010. He was earlier married to Janine Jaquet, a journalist from Delaware, but the two divorced in the 1990s.

Frank is a Florida-based non-attorney senior adviser for the Berman Law Group.

The photo emerges at a time when Republicans are pushing for a probe into the president and his close relatives and their business dealings.

The selfie of Frank Biden is from 2018 and was shared in the same year on GuysWithiPhones.com. The website is a platform for males to share photos of their bodies and receive comments in return. It is not strictly for gay men only.

Frank is 11 years younger than the US President. He admitted that the picture on the website is his but he denied posting it himself, saying his phone must have been hacked. The right-wing nonprofit group Marco Polo has been focused on finding evidence of alleged corruption within the Biden family.

Several Republican lawmakers like Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene have pushed the US House of Representatives to launch an impeachment inquiry against President Biden.

The probe into whether Biden's son, Hunter, and brothers have used their ties to the president and the former vice-president has not led to any clear evidence of such misconduct. The US President Biden denied discussing Hunter or his brothers' business dealings with them.

Source: News18
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DeSantis v Newsom

Posted By: Tarun Kumar Posted On: Nov 27, 2023
Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. (Photo: Reuters)

PICTURE IT: two of America’s most powerful governors take the debate stage. One is sporting copious amounts of hair gel. The other may, or may not, be wearing lifted boots to appear taller. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, and Ron DeSantis, his Republican counterpart in Florida, spend 90 minutes trying to convince viewers that their own state represents the very best of America, and that their relative youth and respective flavour of crusading politics are just what the country needs. Donald Trump is heckling both men in ALL CAPS on Truth Social, from his armchair at Mar-a-Lago, having decided not to seek a second term. Joe Biden is looking forward to retirement, secure in the belief that his presidency was a bridge to the next generation. Sean Hannity, of Fox News, does a passable impression of a neutral moderator.

In another universe this could have been a prime-time debate during the 2024 presidential campaign. Instead, Messrs DeSantis and Newsom will face off on Fox News on November 30th for reasons unclear even to the governors themselves. During an interview last month in Los Angeles, your correspondent asked Mr Newsom why Americans should watch a debate between one (floundering) presidential candidate, and a governor who is not (currently) running for anything. “I don't know they should," he replied merrily.

Yet governors are not the provincial personalities they used to be. “The governor has long been an underappreciated centre of power in US politics," says Kristoffer Shields of the Eagleton Centre on the American Governor at Rutgers University. “But that changed a little bit during covid." In the early days of the pandemic Americans watched their governors deliver regular, often daily, press conferences about the advance of the virus. They became household names. The most outspoken inspired admiration and ire from Americans outside their own states.

There are two ways to look at this event, says Mr Shields: the cynical and the uncynical. Journalists are bound by oath to start with the former. Mr DeSantis is running for president, and in contrast to the earlier imagined scenario, Mr Trump is leading him in the polls by nearly 50 points. Florida's governor is trying to sell the debate with his Californian counterpart as the next big event in the race for the Republican nomination. Except this time, unlike during the primary debates, he's the only member of the Republican Party on stage. He won't have to interrupt whatever spat Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley are having to get a word in.

Mr Newsom is also knee-deep in national politics. He is leading a hopeless campaign to enshrine stricter gun control in the constitution, and has launched his own political action committee to campaign for Democrats in Republican states. He is one of Mr Biden's loudest defenders. But should the need for a different Democratic nominee arise, it is not hard to imagine the Californian calling his own number.

The two governors have traded barbs from their respective coasts over gender identity, abortion and immigration. (Mr Newsom once went so far as to threaten Mr DeSantis with kidnapping charges for allegedly sending migrants to the Golden State.) The Fox News debate offers them a chance to burnish their national reputations on live TV. All debates are political theatre, but this one threatens to be more like a cage match, the clash of the culture warriors.

Yet it would be wrong to dismiss the debate as frivolous. California is the most populous state in the country, and Florida ranks third. Taken together, the two are home to some 61m people. The policies of Mr Newsom and Mr DeSantis affect nearly a fifth of all Americans.

The influence of these two mega-states can be felt beyond their borders. California and Florida have become avatars for very different visions of America. They are the standard-bearers for progressivism and anti-woke populism, respectively. And other states are following their leads. Seventeen adhere to California's vehicle-emissions standards because they are stricter than the federal government's. Meanwhile PEN America, a free-speech organisation, reckons that a Florida law to limit instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for young pupils has inspired more than two dozen copycat bills in other states.

There are risks for both governors. Should Mr DeSantis prove unable to keep up with Mr Newsom, who seems to relish his new role as Mr Biden's attack dog, his presidential hopes may sink further. Mr Newsom is walking into the debate knowing that California-bashing is a favourite pastime of both Fox News and Mr DeSantis. When the governor of Florida spoke at the California Republican Party's convention in September, he told the crowd: “The California model represents more American decline." He wants to “own the lib", predicts Mr Newsom, “and talk about homelessness in California and everyone getting U-Hauls to drive to Florida".

Still, Americans accustomed to hearing about dysfunction in Congress may be surprised to hear just how much states are getting done. If either governor manages to impress, it may not be for nothing. Perhaps the debate is not so much a glimpse of what could have been as a preview of what is to come.

© 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited.

All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com

Source: Live Mint
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Renewable energy has hidden costs

Posted By: Vanshika Pathak Posted On: Nov 24, 2023
The difficulty of bottling electricity makes its economics unusual: it is a question not just of ?how much? but also ?when? (Photo: Pixabay)

It matters when electricity is produced. A barrel of oil may be a barrel of oil whether it is pumped at midday or midnight, but a megawatt hour (mwh) of electricity is worth a great deal less when you are sleeping than during the middle of the day or, indeed, during moments when everyone decides to boil the kettle. The difficulty of bottling electricity makes its economics unusual: it is a question not just of “how much" but also “when".

At the same time, if there is one thing that everyone knows about renewable energy, it is that it is getting cheaper. Each year, or so the story goes, the costs of wind and solar power fall as the world improves its ability to harness natural resources. In 2014 the levelised cost of offshore wind, a measure for comparing different methods of generating electricity, was around $200 per mwh, according to America's Energy Information Administration (eia), an official agency; by 2023 it had fallen to $127, excluding subsidies. Yet the industry is struggling. Six state governors recently begged Joe Biden to intervene to keep producers alive, according to Bloomberg, a news service. In Britain the latest annual offshore wind auction attracted no bids whatsoever.

To understand what is going on, consider the levelised cost of energy in more detail. Do away with sun and wind, too, and return to a world where the choice is gas, coal or nuclear energy. These differ in terms of both their fixed and variable costs. The costs of a nuclear plant are mostly fixed: once built it is inexpensive to produce another unit of electricity. Natural-gas plants are the opposite: most of the costs are the fuel, and are thus variable.

A levelised cost means taking these fixed and variable costs over the lifetime of the plant and weighting them by the expected number of watt-hours the plant will produce. This gives a comparable measure. According to the eia, the levelised cost of nuclear power is $91 per mwh. Natural gas comes to $43. Compare that with expectations for the price of electricity and you should have a good idea of whether or not a new plant is worthwhile.

Yet these costs vary depending on how often a source is producing energy. A nuclear plant will be cheapest if it is running constantly, as the high upfront costs will have produced greater output. Gas, with low fixed costs and high variable costs, has lower economies of scale. Coal sits somewhere between the two. Considered purely on the financial merits, the optimal power mix is to have nuclear cover the “baseload", or minimal level of demand, coal for the “mid-load" and, finally, natural gas for the “peak load", when demand is highest. Add a carbon price and the coal will be displaced by natural gas, which is less dirty, as has happened in Europe over the past few decades.

Unfortunately, this dynamic is upset by renewables, which provide power according to the weather and often require the rest of the energy system to accommodate them. Gas, with its low fixed but high variable costs, can do so easily. Nuclear, with high fixed and low variable costs, becomes much more expensive. It is costly to build a nuclear power plant to cover only the windless hours.

As such, solar panels and wind turbines are themselves less beneficial than they might seem. If they cannot reliably produce electricity when it is needed, then their generating capacity is not as valuable as that of a regular power plant. To truly compare the two requires a measure of not just how much each megawatt hour costs to produce, but the value of that particular hour.

In an idealised market, with prices updating moment-to-moment and geographically from node-to-node on the grid, the relative benefit of any energy source would be easy to calculate: it would depend on the “capture rate". This is the difference between the market price that a source receives and the average price for electricity over a period. Prices should be higher when people most want electricity, boosting the capture rate of sources that produce at that time. Fortunately for renewables, this is usually during daylight hours, making solar useful, or during the cold windy months. But as more renewables join the grid the capture rate will fall, since an abundance of solar panels means that when it is sunny electricity prices are very low, or even negative.

Consider these costs, as measured by the eia in America, and most renewables look less competitive: solar's cost of $23 per mwh falls below an average capture rate of $20 for the electricity generated. That is still sufficiently good to beat everything other than onshore wind, geothermal energy and adding more battery storage to the grid. Offshore wind, by contrast, looks downright uncompetitive: the capture rate of its electricity is around $30 compared with a cost of $100 per mwh—only nuclear and coal have lower ratios. Add in rising costs, due to higher interest rates and disrupted supply chains, and it is no wonder many offshore-wind providers are struggling.

Scottish power

Most electricity markets are not ideal. Prices do not reflect the true value of time and place, meaning they are not a perfect guide to how much society wants each mwh of electricity. Look at Britain. Wholesale electricity prices are settled for half-hour blocks, which should mean pricing will give a decent idea if renewables are producing at the wrong times of day. But there is only one price for the whole country. Most onshore wind is in Scotland, since England until recently had a de facto ban on building such wind farms, though more of the demand for electricity is in the south of England. A lack of capacity on the grid to move the electricity south means that the grid manager pays to turn off Scotland's wind turbines while gas power plants in England are turned on.

Eventually, increasing the grid's capacity to shift and store electricity will solve such problems. But for the moment, comparing costs with the capture rate would not give an accurate idea of the relative benefits of building more Scottish wind power. The true costs of renewable energy are greater than they appear.

Read more from Free exchange, our column on economics: 

Does China face a lost decade? (Sep 10th)

Argentina needs to default, not dollarise (Sep 7th)

How will politicians escape enormous public debts? (Aug 31st)

For more expert analysis of the biggest stories in economics, finance and markets, sign up to Money Talks, our weekly subscriber-only newsletter.

© 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com

Source: Live Mint
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Trump’s Big Advantages as the Election Year Unfolds

Posted By: Jogendra Kumar Posted On: Nov 22, 2023
Trump?s Big Advantages as the Election Year Unfolds

Since the last presidential campaign, former President Donald Trump has complained repeatedly that the political system is “rigged" against him. As the 2024 election season draws near, the system actually does appear to be rigged—in his favor.

The current structure of U.S. presidential elections helps the leading Republican presidential contender in significant ways. Thanks in part to years of work by the former president's campaign and allies, the party's primary rules and calendar are designed to help a front-runner sew up the nomination quickly. That would be an advantage in any case, but it may matter even more in a year when Trump's legal troubles in multiple civil and criminal trials could mount as the primary calendar unfolds.

In the general election, the Electoral College also tilts decidedly to the benefit of the Republican nominee. That's because Democrats gather a lot of their national popular-vote totals in just a few heavily populated states, while Republican nominees tend to win in less-populous states that deliver winner-take-all electoral votes in return for far fewer actual votes. In effect, Democrats tend to garner large numbers of votes that give them no gains in the Electoral College.

“Republican votes are simply more efficiently allocated than Democratic votes are," says nonpartisan election analyst Charlie Cook. The Republican advantage is so pronounced that Cook estimates that President Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will have to win the national popular vote by four to seven percentage points to win in the Electoral College, much as he did in 2020 when he won the popular vote by 4.5% over Trump.

In a turbulent political environment with the nation evenly divided, these structural advantages can prove decisive. For President Biden, they figure to increase the headwinds he has to overcome to prevail in a difficult re-election effort.

Trump's advantages will begin to emerge early in the new year, when Republican caucuses and primaries unfold in rapid order. In contrast with the Democrats, whose rules require all states to award convention delegates in proportion to each candidate's share of the votes, the Republicans allow state parties to choose to conduct various forms of winner-take-all primaries.

In some states, winning a plurality automatically gives the top contender all of the state's delegates; in others, a winning candidate has to clear a certain threshold to walk away with all the delegates. “On the whole, the rules writ large are rules that are front-runner friendly," says Josh Putnam, a political scientist and consultant who runs FrontloadingHQ, a site that tracks primary and delegate issues.

The Republican system has long been structured this way, but Trump's forces have worked hard since he first won the nomination in 2016 to tweak it to further help the front-runner. In Massachusetts, for example, a candidate once needed to win just 5% of the statewide vote to get any delegates. In 2020, that threshold was raised to 20%, and a winner-take-all system was added in which a candidate getting above 50% takes all the state's delegates.

Trump's allies have also pushed for the early Republican primaries and caucuses to adopt new rules friendly to the front-runner, including on Super Tuesday, March 5. Though the party still doesn't technically allow a pure winner-take-all primary until after March 15, in 2024 there will be a proliferation of early states that use some variation, typically giving all the delegates to a candidate who wins 50% or more of the votes.

By the Trump campaign's count, 23 states and territories voting by March 15 will employ some kind of winner-take-all trigger. In 2016, just 15 states and territories did so. The most important change is in delegate-rich California, which is instituting rules for its Super Tuesday primary that will give all of its delegates to a candidate who wins 50% of the state's vote.

For trailing candidates, this means that staying close to the front-runner might bring little or nothing in the way of actual delegates. The front-runner can rack up delegates fast and pull away to an insurmountable lead quickly, particularly when facing a field in which multiple opponents are dividing the remaining vote into small pieces.

That effect could be enhanced by the fact that the whole primary calendar is more front-loaded in 2024, with a half dozen states moving their election dates forward from past years. All told, some 60% of the party's delegates will have been chosen by March 5, Cook says. Those rules “give an incumbent/front-runner a significant advantage," says Chris LaCivita, senior adviser in the Trump campaign. For a candidate who hopes to overtake Donald Trump—say, Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis—this combination of factors means that they have to make their move early to have any chance to catch him.

Once the Republican nomination is secured, the GOP's advantage in the general election will start to emerge. Both parties will proceed with the knowledge that the two candidates' standing nationally doesn't necessarily reflect their chances of securing the 270 Electoral College votes that produce a winner.

That dynamic was clear in 2020, when Biden won the national vote over Trump by some seven million votes but claimed the presidency only because he won four key swing states—Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—by a total of about 126,000 votes.

In that race, Biden won California by 5.1 million votes, New York by 2 million votes and Massachusetts by 1.2 million votes. Winning by such big margins made Biden's vote total look impressive nationally, but it didn't give him any more electoral votes than if he'd won those states by a single vote each.

Cook refers to these excess votes as “wasted votes," and in 2020 Biden won all seven of the states at the top of that list, tallying 14 million votes that did nothing to add to his Electoral College advantage. By comparison, just 7.8 million “wasted votes" were cast for Trump.

That factor makes it entirely plausible that Trump could win in another “inversion" election, in which he loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College, as he did in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. That happened only three times in the country's first 53 presidential elections before 2000, but it has occurred twice in the six contests since then and nearly happened a third time in 2020.

Trump has one other advantage worth noting: A potential proliferation of alternative candidates who could siphon more votes away from Biden than from Trump. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Cornel West are mounting independent presidential bids, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is also said to be considering a run.

Because of the outsider profile and conservative positions he has struck, Kennedy, though a lifelong Democrat, could sap as many Trump votes as Biden votes. But because of the positioning of West and Manchin—the first a progressive academic and activist, the second a longtime Democratic officeholder—both likely would draw more from the Democrats.

All of these outsiders insist they aren't aiming to help Trump's candidacy or hurt Biden's, but that could be precisely the effect of their campaigns.

Gerald F. Seib retired last year as The Wall Street Journal's executive Washington editor and weekly Capital Journal columnist. He has served most recently as a fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

Source: Live Mint
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Biden, 81, Mixes Up Taylor Swift and

Posted By: Preeti Dabar Posted On: Nov 21, 2023

US President Joe Biden on Monday mistakenly referred to American pop star Taylor Swift as ‘Britney' (Spears) during remarks at a Thanksgiving event at the White House. While speaking about the annual tradition, Biden said turkeys named Liberty and Bell had to beat stiff competition for the honor and demonstrate ‘patience.'

“You could say it was even harder than getting a ticket to the Renaissance tour for Britney's tour. She's down in, it's kinda warm in Brazil right now,” Biden said. This yet another faux pas comes as Biden celebrated his 81st birthday by joking repeatedly about his advanced age, even as the White House strongly defended his stamina and batted away polling.'

On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden's age should not be a primary focus. “Our perspective is, it's not about age, it's about the president's experience,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing, where she highlighted that Biden had successfully championed through Congress several major pieces of legislation.

“What we say is we have to judge him by what he's done, not by his numbers,” Jean-Pierre said. “I would put the president's stamina, the president's wisdom, ability to get this done on behalf of the American people, against anyone. Anyone, any day of the week.” The US President, for his part, went for humor at the White House event. “By the way, it's my birthday today,” Biden told a crowd on the South Lawn as he pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys Liberty and Bell. “I just want you to know, it's difficult turning 60,” the president added with a chuckle. “Difficult.”

Noting that the pre-Thanksgiving pardoning ceremony dated back 76 years, Biden also said, “I want you to know I wasn't there — for the first one.” The oldest president in US history, Biden for months has used humor to try to defuse the issue — even as polls suggest it's no laughing matter.

An August poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 77 percent of U.S. adults, including 69 percent of Democrats, viewed Biden as too old to be effective for four more years. As he seeks a second term, Biden could be headed for a rematch with former President Donald Trump.

(With agency inputs)

Source: News18
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WATCH | ‘I’m a Hindu

Posted By: Aditya Gogoi Posted On: Nov 19, 2023

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Saturday said his ‘Hindu' faith motivated him to launch his presidential campaign. Ramaswamy was addressing the ‘The Family Leader' forum organised by The Daily Signal platform along with fellow contenders Florida governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

“My faith is what gives me my freedom. My faith is what led me to this presidential campaign…I am a Hindu. I believe there is one true God. I believe God put each of us here for a purpose. My faith teaches us that we have a duty, a moral duty to realise that purpose. Those are God's instruments that work through us in different ways, but we are still equal because God resides in each of us. That's the core of my faith,” Ramaswamy said.

Ramaswamy also shared the video of the interaction between him and the panel on his X profile with the caption: “Last night I was asked about my Hindu faith. I answered honestly”.

“I grew up in a traditional household. My parents taught me family is the foundation. Respect your parents. Marriage is sacred. Abstinence before marriage is the way to go. Adultery is wrong. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Divorce is not just some preference you opt for…you get married before God and you make an oath to God and your family,” Ramaswamy told panel moderator Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats.

Family Leader is an influential Christian organisation from Iowa.

Three candidates — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — sat side-by-side at a festive Thanksgiving table for a “family discussion” in Des Moines.

A report by the Associated Press said that the presidential contenders addressed each other by their first names and at times noted where they agreed. They discussed their foreign policies on Israel, China and the Russia-Ukraine war while focusing on religious liberty and agriculture, but the interactions between them were friendly.

Leading Republican contender former US President Donald Trump did not attend the event.

Source: News18
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Wall Street eyes Nikki Haley as Trump spoiler

Posted By: Aditya Gogoi Posted On: Nov 18, 2023
(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY EMIL LENDOF/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)

Big hitters on Wall Street are lining up to support Nikki Haley’s long-shot bid to snatch the 2024 Republican presidential nomination from Donald Trump.

“There's a desperate, desperate hunt for anybody but Trump," said one of the roughly 30 senior executives The Wall Street Journal spoke with to gauge the mood of the finance set roughly a year ahead of the election.

While Wall Street's die-hard Democrats are sticking with President Biden, many other financiers have been casting about for an alternative to Trump, the former president they see as too unpredictable among other concerns. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's clash with Walt Disney and stilted public appearances hurt his standing, while Virginia Democrats' statewide victories this month quashed the idea of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (and former Carlyle Group co-CEO) jumping into the race.

Attention on Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Trump's former U.N. ambassador, intensified after Sen. Tim Scott's (R., S.C.) unexpected exit Sunday.

Former Trump adviser Gary Cohn and UBS banker Mike Santini co-hosted a Haley fundraiser Tuesday at Cohn's Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. Roughly 30 guests including Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder of investment bank LionTree, paid $10,000 apiece to attend.

Haley fielded questions on topics including trade relations, economic policy and abortion. She won plaudits at last week's Republican debate for finessing her stance on the abortion issue and calling for consensus.

Other Haley events in New York are set for Dec. 3 and Dec. 4, with the latter being organized by Santini, litigator Eric Levine and others, some of whom have ties to Elliott Management, the $60 billion hedge fund founded by Republican donor Paul Singer. They include Campbell Brown, the Meta Platforms executive and wife of Elliott public affairs chief Dan Senor, and Terry Kassel, a longtime Haley supporter who is Elliott's human-resources head and Singer's girlfriend. (Singer himself is still entertaining supporting candidates including Haley, DeSantis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.)

Haley, 51 years old, who already has high-profile admirers including outgoing Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, has been busy this week charming others including JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and BlackRock's Larry Fink. The conversation between Haley and Dimon was earlier reported by Axios.

Dimon, who leans Democratic, has told people Haley seems to understand the business world and could get things done. That tacit endorsement is rare for Wall Street's elder statesman, as he doesn't typically signal support for candidates. Fink saw Haley on Tuesday at a meet-and-greet with other executives.

Ken Griffin, the founder of investing giant Citadel and one of the biggest Republican donors, meanwhile, is flirting with throwing his support behind Haley, telling Bloomberg this week he was “actively contemplating" it. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman is also still considering his options.

While Haley trails Trump by a wide margin and still sits behind DeSantis in the latest national polls, her supporters expect her numbers to rise by the Iowa presidential caucuses in January. An Iowa Poll released in late October showed Haley catching DeSantis for second place among Republicans in that state, and a new CNN survey of New Hampshire has her alone in second place there behind Trump.

“If she passes DeSantis, she's the backup," said one financier who supports her. Given Trump's legal troubles, “it's not completely crazy that she could ultimately win."

A DeSantis spokesman said his campaign raised more than $1 million in 24 hours after the latest debate and has the resources it needs to grind out the battle for the nomination.

Trump's team didn't respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, many Democratic donors privately grumble that Biden won't step aside even though his age is seen by many as a handicap. Still, reliable supporters such as George Soros and Blackstone's Jonathan Gray are standing by the president—who turns 81 Monday—and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Lazard President Ray McGuire's wife, Crystal McCrary McGuire, recently hosted Harris and supporters at their Upper West Side apartment. Biden is expected back in New York early next year.

Many are panicking behind closed doors about the incumbent's worsening poll numbers and bristling at what they see as a tough-on-business regulatory agenda. They also worry that the balance he must strike on the war between Israel and Hamas will only hurt him as the conflict drags on. Some are floating alternatives such as Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (No one the Journal spoke to mentioned Rep. Dean Phillips, the Minnesota congressman who is actually challenging Biden for the Democratic nomination.)

Biden's camp has pushed back on wealthy donors suggesting he step aside. “Joe is saying ‘I'm the only one who has established that I can beat Trump,' " one of his nervous supporters said.

Complicating matters further on the Democratic side is New York City's migrant crisis. The Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit representing the city's business community, has been quietly urging deep-pocketed donors not to meaningfully support Biden until his team agrees to provide funding to deal with the influx or let them enter the legal workforce.

Meanwhile, No Labels, a political group supporting centrist candidates, threatens to throw both Republicans and Democrats off-balance by adding another candidate to the mix. Founder Nancy Jacobson has been in New York drumming up support.

Founded in 2009 and funded over the years by donors including Trian Fund Management's Nelson Peltz, enthusiasm for No Labels jumped on Wall Street during the pandemic as it recruited using Zoom events. But several onetime supporters say the organization is losing steam and people worry it could help elect Trump. Peltz quit affiliating with the group years ago and is leaning toward supporting Haley.

No Labels said it was becoming clearer every day that Americans want another choice in 2024 and that is why it is working to offer a “Unity ticket" to voters if they want it.

“I'm dragging my feet on supporting No Labels," said a private-equity executive who was once an enthusiastic supporter, adding that he needed answers on how they were going to decide whether to offer up an alternative, and who. “Until I'm sure of that and I like the answer, I'll keep waiting," he said.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) was once considered a possible No Labels candidate, and his decision not to run for re-election fed the speculation. He gets little love from the Wall Street crowd, however, and No Labels has recently made clear it was more likely to select a Republican—if it runs anyone.

The private-equity executive said his hope is that No Labels gets on every state's ballot to pressure both parties to be more moderate, then drops out at the last minute.

Lauren Thomas contributed to this article.

Write to Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com and AnnaMaria Andriotis at annamaria.andriotis@wsj.com

Source: Live Mint
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As More Pandas Head to US

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Nov 18, 2023

In a whirlwind US trip this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping held long talks with President Joe Biden, got a standing ovation from top business leaders, and even hinted there could be more pandas on the way to the United States.

The high-profile welcome for Xi in San Francisco, coupled with the summit where he and Biden agreed to restore suspended US-Chinese military communications, add up to a successful visit, analysts say.

But in the face of heightened business risks and enduring national security concerns, experts say the rhetoric needs now to be backed up by action if it is to produce meaningful long-term results for the Chinese leader, whose slowing economy needs to reverse the flight of foreign capital.

“For China, Xi's ability to gain a prominent platform in San Francisco (and) to speak with US business leaders was a success in and of itself,” said Nathaniel Sher, senior research analyst at Carnegie China.

At a dinner Wednesday attended by executives like Apple CEO Tim Cook and BlackRock's Larry Fink, Xi said China was ready to be a “partner and friend” of the United States. He hinted Beijing could send more panda bears — always a huge hit at US zoos — as “envoys of friendship.”

The world's richest person, Tesla and SpaceX tycoon Elon Musk, also met Xi before the dinner with other representatives, said Tesla in a Chinese social media post.

Xi's appearance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco marked a rare chance for him to interact with foreign business leaders, noted Trivium China in a newsletter, offering the opportunity to challenge the idea that China is inhospitable to foreign firms.

He did not show up in person to the APEC CEO summit — and China did not offer an explanation for the no-show — offering instead a written speech inviting firms to invest and deepen their footprint, promising “heart-warming” measures “to make it easier for foreign companies to invest and operate in China.”

But beyond the warm words, US investors will be watching Xi's actions, as the world's number two economy slows and business confidence weakens.

China's anti-espionage law, cybersecurity investigations, raids on multinationals, wrongful detentions and non-market practices “all have chilling effects on foreign investment,” Sher told AFP.

“Above all, multinationals want more legal and regulatory predictability in China, not more hollow statements about China's commitment to win-win development,” he added.

On the political front, the sit-down with Biden could be said to have been a qualified success, observers said.

The United States and China have a common goal of stabilization of their relations after a rough few years, said Australian ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd.

“It means reopening former lines — political, diplomatic and now military communication,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the APEC summit.

“This is not just a term, it actually has machinery of government around it,” said the former Australian prime minister.

“The bottom line with all the above is the proof of the pudding will lie in the eating. The framework is there, they're measurable. What will now happen in practice?”

For now, the restoration of military-to-military communications is “just the first step,” he said.

It remains unclear if China has changed its own strategic timetable surrounding Taiwan — the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own — or if the latest talks will change its military's behavior.

To Seton Hall University professor Zheng Wang, Xi's first US visit in six years and the Biden-Xi summit symbolize “a potential turning point” in bilateral ties after the hostility of recent years.

“We've witnessed a trade war, technology conflicts, and the far-reaching impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

And now Biden will be managing his reelection campaign while monitoring war in Ukraine and tensions in the Middle East, while Xi navigates China's economic challenges and the perpetual intrigue of politics at the top of the Communist Party. A former foreign minister has gone missing and the whereabouts of the defense minister remain unclear.

“Stable and constructive US-China relations are therefore needed for both sides,” Wang said.

Yet, Xi could have gone “much further” to reassure the United States and the global community of China's benign intentions, Sher said.

“If the ‘rejuvenation' of China entails a rejection of the existing international order, nothing that Chinese leaders say in international fora will prevent the US and its partners from seeking to impede Beijing's rise,” he said.

Source: News18
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Xi Invites Biden to Join BRI in Summit Talks

Posted By: Vishal Maurya Posted On: Nov 16, 2023

Chinese President Xi Jinping has invited his US counterpart Joe Biden to take part in his pet global initiative the BRI and expressed his readiness to take part in the Washington-backed multilateral cooperate initiatives. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) initiated by Xi in 2015 in which China is reported to have invested over a USD trillion has been widely criticised by the US, India and other countries as several countries including Sri Lanka and Pakistan, its biggest beneficiaries, reeled under mounting debt burden.

The US, India and many of the EU countries are not part of the BRI. On the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with President Biden and other world leaders launched the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) to connect India, the Middle East and Europe with railways, shipping lines, high-speed data cables and energy pipelines.

In his four-hour-long meeting with Biden on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, termed as ”strategic and historic by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, President Xi did not directly refer to the IMEEC but said, ”China is also ready to participate in US proposed multilateral cooperation initiatives”. On the back foot, as the Chinese economy reeled under a prolonged slowdown with a flight of FDI and supply chains, Xi is on a charm offensive in the US to woo the good times of China-US ties back.

His talks with Biden were also seen as an effort to address apprehensions back home that the US and China were headed for a major confrontation. Briefing the Chinese media on the Xi-Biden talks, Wang, who accompanied Xi, said the two presidents had an in-depth exchange of views face-to-face. They offered views guiding the most pronounced issues confronting China-US relations, including adopting a correct perception of each other, properly managing differences, and advancing dialogue and cooperation”.

”They had all-round discussions on addressing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Ukraine crisis, climate change, artificial intelligence and other global challenges,” Wang said. However, in his lengthy opening remarks at his summit with Biden as well as equally long speech at a banquet, Xi made no references to the US strategic heft into the Indo-Pacific and Beijing's oft-repeated allegation that Washington is inciting bloc confrontation against China by forming groupings like Quad (US, India, Australia, Japan) and AUKUS (Australia, UK and US).

China is also peeved over the emerging close ties between the US and India. Xi, 70, however, was blunt in asserting China's claims over the self-ruled Taiwan.

The Taiwan question remains the most important and most sensitive issue in China-US relations. China takes seriously the positive statements made by the United States in the Bali meeting. ”China will realise reunification, and this is unstoppable, he told Biden. But at the same time, he called for jointly managing disagreements effectively and respecting each other's redlines.

”Disagreements should not be a chasm that keeps the two countries apart. Instead, the two sides should look for ways to build bridges to help them walk toward each other. It is important that they appreciate each other's principles and red lines and refrain from flip-flopping, being provocative, and crossing the lines. They should have more communications, more dialogues and more consultations, and calmly handle their differences as well as accidents,” he said. China and the US should lead by example, step up coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues and keep their initiatives open to each other, Xi said.

Wang said it is a strategic meeting because Biden invited Xi for a stand-alone meeting, making it different from the bilateral meetings on the sidelines of APEC. ”It is a historic meeting. It is held at a time when the China-US relationship is at a critical stage. The international community needs a stable China-US relationship now more than ever,” Wang said, adding that President Xi is visiting the US after a hiatus of six years.

Biden too placated Xi during their dinner meeting, showing the photo on his phone of the Chinese leader's visit 38 years ago. ”Do you know this young man?” Biden asked Xi. ”Yes, that was me 38 years ago,” replied Xi.

The image displayed on Biden's phone was a photo Xi took in 1985 when he was on his maiden trip to the United States, Xinhua reported. At that time, Xi, in his early thirties, was a county leader of Zhengding in China's northern province of Hebei.

”You haven't changed a bit!” said Biden with a chuckle, the report said.

Source: News18
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Xi-Biden meeting

Posted By: Aditya Gogoi Posted On: Nov 16, 2023
President Joe Biden and China's President President Xi Jinping walk in the gardens at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, Calif., Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool) (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Joe Biden and Xi Jinping held a US-China Summit on November 15. The US President and his Chinese counterpart discussed various global and bilateral issues. Here are 7 key takeaways.

Middle East

At the summit, President Biden emphasised the Middle East. He called for peace and stability. The complex roles of the US and China in this region were underscored.

Taiwan

Taiwan was a major topic. Xi Jinping described it as crucial in US-China relations. He urged the US to respect commitments regarding Taiwan's independence. Xi favoured peaceful reunification but didn't rule out force. Biden stressed the US's commitment to regional peace.

Taiwan elections

With Taiwan's January elections approaching, Biden asked China to respect the island's democratic process. Despite China's military presence near Taiwan, there seemed no immediate invasion threat.

Iran

Biden sought China's help to de-escalate tensions with Iran. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirmed talks with Iran were ongoing. Biden made it clear: Hamas issues are separate from broader Palestinian concerns, as per CNN.

Fentanyl production

A key discussion was on fentanyl production. China pledged to target related companies. The US plans to monitor these efforts, the publication added.

Military communications

The summit led to a key agreement: restoring military-to-military communications. This step is crucial as it helps lower the risk of misunderstandings. It also aids in managing tensions between the two military forces.

Positive conclusion

Despite not achieving a joint statement or formal cooperation declaration, the summit ended on a positive note. Biden expressed optimism about the "real progress" made in the talks. He highlighted the importance of this engagement between the world's leading powers amid increasing global tensions, the publication added.

Source: Live Mint
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From Elon Musk to Tim Cook

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Nov 16, 2023
President Joe Biden and China's President President Xi Jinping walk in the gardens at the Filoli Estate in Woodside, Calif., Wednesday, Nov, 15, 2023, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative conference. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool) (AP)

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk are some of the high-profile names expected to attend a dinner hosted for US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco. The dinner, hosted by the National Committee on US-China Relations and the US-China Business Council, takes place during the 30th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Wednesday.

The forum is expected to be attended by hundreds of business leaders from various sectors such as banking and technology, while President Xi may also deliver a speech, CBS News reported.

According to a Bloomberg report, top business leaders attending the dinner include Tim Cook, Elon Musk, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman and Visa CEO Ryan McInerney.

Other tech leaders expected to attend include Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and Broadcom CEO Hock Tan, the Bloomberg report said, citing sources.

Details of the dinner have been scarce, with the hosts providing little clarity on the Chinese leaders attending and the location of the event. However, some of Xi Jinping's 'old friends' from Iowa have reportedly been invited to the high-profile event.

The dinner with business leaders will give the Chinese president an opportunity to boost declining US investment in his country. Meanwhile, it will also be a chance for top entrepreneurs to rub shoulders with the leader of the world's second-largest economy.

China is a key market for many top US companies, including Apple, which derives around a fifth of its revenue from China and manufactures a range of devices in the country. However, amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, the Cupertino-based tech giant has been caught in a bind with the Chinese government blocking the use of iPhones and other foreign technology in state-backed companies. Competition from home-grown Huawei has also led to a recent slowdown in Apple's sales in China.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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Source: Live Mint
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