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Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Madrid

Protesters held up banners and signs condemning a “genocide” in Gaza and lauding the “resistance” of the Palestinian people….reports Asian Lite News

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Madrid on Saturday to demand a ceasefire in war-torn Gaza and a severing of ties between Spain and Israel.

Numbering around 4,000 according to the authorities, protesters held up banners and signs condemning a “genocide” in Gaza and lauding the “resistance” of the Palestinian people.

Palestinians have been “crammed” in southern Gaza and “now they are displaced again from one place to another while there are no more safe places,” said 57-year-old Jaldia Abubakra, referring to Israeli evacuation orders in the city of Rafah.

Around 30 organizations called for the rally before the 76th anniversary of what Palestinians call the “Nakba” (“catastrophe“), when 760,000 people fled their homes during the 1948 war that accompanied Israel’s creation.

Spanish students have set up peaceful sit-ins and camps at universities in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia in recent days, mirroring similar pro-Palestinian campus movements across the United States and Europe.

Earlier this week, Spanish universities expressed willingness to suspend ties with any Israeli educational institution that failed to express “a clear commitment to peace.”

Spain is one of Israel’s harshest critics in Europe and leading efforts to recognize a Palestinian state.

The Gaza war started with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized hostages, of whom Israel estimates 128 remain in Gaza, at least 36 of whom the military says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,971 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

‘Spain to recognise Palestine as a state’

Spain, Ireland and other European Union member countries plan to recognize a Palestinian state on May 21, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said late on Thursday ahead of an expected UN vote on Friday on a Palestinian bid to become a full member.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take the first steps towards recognition of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

Asked on local Spanish radio station RNE if May 21 was when Spain, Ireland and other EU countries would recognize a Palestinian state, Borrell said yes, mentioning Slovenia as well.

“This is a symbolic act of a political nature. More than a state, it recognizes the will for that state to exist,” he said, adding that Belgium and other countries would probably follow.

Previously, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares had said the decision on recognition had been made, although he did not give a date.

International calls for a ceasefire and permanent end to Palestinian-Israeli conflict have grown along with the death toll from Israel’s offensive in Gaza.

Israel has said plans for Palestinian recognition constitute a “prize for terrorism” that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the Gaza conflict.

On Friday the United Nations General Assembly is set to back a Palestinian bid to become a full UN member by recognizing it as qualified to join and sending the application back to the UN Security Council to “reconsider the matter favorably.”

Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE said on Thursday that Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta had been waiting for the UN vote and were considering a joint recognition on May 21.

A spokesperson for the Spanish Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. There was no immediate comment on the date from the other countries.

Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said earlier this week his country would recognize Palestine’s statehood by mid-June. Since 1988, 139 out of 193 UN member states have recognized Palestinian statehood.

ALSO READ: UAE welcomes UN vote granting Palestine full membership

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Biden, Trump offer worlds-apart contrasts on key issues

The past actions and future agendas regarding abortion, immigration, taxes, and foreign conflicts clearly indicate that the candidate elected in November will profoundly influence the American landscape in unique ways….reports Asian Lite News

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are two presidents with unfinished business and an itch to get it done.

Their track records and plans on abortion, immigration, taxes, wars abroad — you name it — leave no doubt that the man voters choose in November will seek to shape the landscape of American life in ways wholly distinct from the other.

The choices, if the winner gets his way, are sharply defined. The onward march of regulation and incentives to restrain climate change, or a slow walk if not an about-face. Higher taxes on the super rich, or not. Abortion rights reaffirmed, or left to states to restrict or allow as each decides. Another attempt to legislate border security and orderly entry into the country, or massive deportations. A commitment to stand with Ukraine or let go.

At no time in living memory have two presidents, current and former, competed for the office. Not since Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, both Republicans, in 1912, and that didn’t work out for either of them — Democrat Woodrow Wilson won that three-way race.

More than a century later, voters again get to judge two presidents on their records alongside their promises for the next four years. Here’s where they stand on 10 of the top issues:

Abortion

BIDEN

The president has called for Congress to send him legislation that would codify in federal law the right to an abortion, which stood for nearly 50 years before being overturned by the Supreme Court. He has also criticized statewide bans on abortion in Republican states and says he will veto any potential nationwide ban should one come to his desk. In the absence of legislation, his administration has taken narrower actions, such as proposals that would protect women who travel to obtain abortions and limit how law enforcement collects medical records.

TRUMP

The former president often brags about appointing the Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to an abortion. After dodging questions about when in pregnancy he believes the procedure should be restricted, Trump announced in April that decisions on access and cutoffs should be left to the states. He said he would not sign a national abortion ban into law. But he’s declined to say whether he would try to limit access to the abortion pill mifepristone. He told Time magazine in recent interviews that it should also be left up to states to determine whether to prosecute women for abortions or to monitor their pregnancies.

Climate/Energy

BIDEN

In a second term, Biden could be expected to continue his focus on implementing the climate provisions of his Inflation Reduction Act, which provided nearly $375 billion for things like financial incentives for electric cars and clean energy projects. Biden is also enlisting more than 20,000 young people in a national “Climate Corps,” a Peace Corps-like program to promote conservation through tasks such as weatherizing homes and repairing wetlands. Biden wants to triple the group’s size this decade. Despite all this, it’s unlikely that the US will be on track to meet Biden’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030.

TRUMP

His mantra for one of his top priorities: “DRILL, BABY, DRILL.” Trump, who in the past cast climate change as a “hoax” and harbors a particular disdain for wind power, says it’s his goal for the US to have the cheapest energy and electricity in the world. He’d increase oil drilling on public lands, offer tax breaks to oil, gas and coal producers, speed the approval of natural gas pipelines and roll back the Biden administration’s aggressive efforts to get people to switch to electric cars, which he argues have a place but shouldn’t be forced on consumers. He has also pledged to re-exit the Paris Climate Accords, end wind subsidies and eliminate regulations imposed and proposed by the Biden administration targeting energy-inefficient kinds of lightbulbs, stoves, dishwashers and shower heads.

Democracy/Rule of law

BIDEN

Protecting democracy has been the raison d’etre behind Biden’s decision to run for reelection. In a symbolic nod to the Revolutionary War, Biden delivered his first campaign speech of 2024 near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where he spoke of George Washington’s decision to step down as the leader of the Continental Army after American independence was won. During the Jan. 5 speech, Biden said this year’s presidential contest is “all about” whether US democracy will survive and he regularly condemns Trump’s denial that he lost the 2020 general election. Biden has called the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol a “day that we nearly lost America — lost it all.”

Trump

The former president, who famously refused to accept his loss to Biden in 2020, has not committed to accepting the results this time. “If everything’s honest, I’ll gladly accept the results,” Trump recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If it’s not, you have to fight for the right of the country.” He has said he will pardon the Jan. 6 defendants jailed for assaulting police officers and other crimes during the attack on the Capitol. He vows to overhaul the Justice Department and FBI “from the ground up,” aggrieved by the criminal charges the department has brought against him. He also promises to deploy the National Guard to cities such as Chicago that are struggling with violent crime, and in response to protests, and has also vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to go after Biden.

Federal government

BIDEN

The Biden administration is already taking steps to make it harder for any mass firings of civil servants to occur. In April, the Office of Personnel Management issued a new rule that would ban federal workers from being reclassified as political appointees or other at-will employees, which makes them easier to dismiss. That was in response to Schedule F, a 2020 executive order from Trump that reclassified tens of thousands of federal workers so they could be fired more easily.

TRUMP

The former president vows an overhaul of the federal bureaucracy, which he has long blamed for stymying his first term agenda: “I will totally obliterate the deep state.” He plans to reissue the Schedule F order stripping civil service protections. He’d then move to fire “rogue bureaucrats,” including those who ”weaponized our justice system,” and the “warmongers and America-Last globalists in the Deep State, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the national security industrial complex.” He’s pledged to terminate the Education Department and wants to curtail the independence of regulatory agencies like the Federal Communications Commission.

ALSO READ: Trump blasts Biden in rare day on campaign trail

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Shriya Pilgaonkar Celebrates Maharashtra Day

The actress will be soon seen in the upcoming 2nd season of ‘The Broken News’…reports Asian Lite News

Actress Shriya Pilgaonkar, who is known for ‘Mirzapur’ and ‘The Broken News’, is a proud ‘Marathi Mulgi’. On the occasion of Maharashtra Day on Wednesday, the actress shared that the beauty of the state lies in its culture and traditions.

The actress, who is busy shooting a project — the details of which are currently under wraps, spoke with us on Wednesday.

She told, “On the occasion of Maharashtra Divas, I would like to share that I am so grateful to be born in this wonderful state which has such a rich cultural history and heritage. Some of the most prominent philosophers, poets, saints, (and) so much art, culture and literature have come out of Maharashtra. I am extremely proud of the language, culture and the diversity of Maharashtra and I would like to wish everybody ‘Maharashtra Dina Cha Khub Khub Shubheccha’ (Happy Maharashtra Day)”.

She further mentioned, “The beauty of Maharashtra has always been its culture and traditions. My parents have over the years contributed to the incredible Marathi Film Industry… I am grateful to this land for giving me my livelihood… I hope to do my bit to keep the culture of Maharashtra alive”.

The actress will be soon seen in the upcoming 2nd season of ‘The Broken News’.

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Sanjay Nigam Leads FEF to Empower Fashion Entrepreneurs Globally

The fund has garnered visibility and substantial support from influential successful business leaders across diverse sectors…reports Asian Lite News

Fashion Entrepreneur Fund (FEF), a one-of-a-kind venture studio committed to nurturing creativity in the fashion industry, is offering a game-changing opportunity to fashion entrepreneurs to build self-sustaining businesses. With an initial investment of Rs 20 crores, FEF seeks to empower emerging talents through mentorship, networking, and financial backing.

Highlighting the role of FEF in the journey of aspiring fashion entrepreneurs, Sanjay Nigam, Founder of Fashion Entrepreneur Fund, stated, “FEF fosters a dynamic ecosystem for talent, mentorship, and networking in the fashion entrepreneurship universe. We are committed to shaping the future of fashion innovation and empowering individuals to showcase their creativity on a global scale.”

Nigam additionally emphasised the belief in the potency of groundbreaking concepts and enthusiasm to invest in the next generation of fashion startups and businesses, both in the existing as well as upcoming generations.

The fund has garnered visibility and substantial support from influential successful business leaders across diverse sectors.

Investors who recognise and support the vision of FEF include : 

Karan Johar (Renowned Indian film director and producer)

Vinod Dugar (Honorary Consul of Malawi and Co-Promoter of RDB Group)

Naveen Jindal (Chairman of Jindal Steel & Power Limited)

Sandeep Jain (Director of Vega Industries Pvt. Ltd.)

Gaurav Dalmia (Chairman of Dalmia Group Holdings.)

Sukhraj Nahar (Founder, Chairman, and Managing Director of Nahar Group.)

Manju Yagnik (Vice-Chairperson of Nahar Group)

Sonali Dugar (Dugar Finance & Investments Limited)

Prithviraj Kothari (Managing Director of RiddhiSiddhi Bullion Ltd – RSBL.)

For fashion entrepreneurs seeking backing, guidance and support to navigate their aspirations, FEF serves as a dedicated partner in acknowledging the competitive landscape of the fashion industry.

The pre-registration is live on FEF’s official website, https://www.thefef.net/ encouraging fashion innovators with promising concepts to pitch and secure the investment that can transform their visions into successful thriving businesses.  Pre-registration allows you to take your fashion startups to the next level.

ALSO READ-‘A Shot of Mumbai’ Collection Revs Up Motorcycle Fashion

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Conspiracy to end reservations in the country: Revanth

Talangana CM alleged that there is a conspiracy to impose RSS thinking on the country, and the RSS has set the target of doing away with the reservation in its 100th year, ie. 2025…reports Asian Lite News

 Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy on Thursday alleged that the BJP plans to do away with the reservation for various weaker sections in the country as per the RSS’s ideology and the party’s policy.

In his remarks at an event to release a ‘charge sheet’ against the BJP government at the Centre, brought out by the state Congress unit, he alleged that there is a conspiracy to impose RSS thinking on the country, and the RSS has set the target of doing away with the reservation in its 100th year which will be marked in 2025.

The Chief Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks that if the BJP gets a majority, it will be easy for him to end the reservation.

Stating that there is a need for an “X-ray” of the country, he said the Congress will increase the reservation for various sections in proportion to their population. He alleged that the BJP is afraid that 27 per cent reservation for OBCs may be increased to 50 per cent.

Revanth Reddy cautioned that every vote for the BJP will help to end reservations.

Some parties, which, for the sake of politics, want the reservation to go, are backing the BJP, he said and termed the ongoing election a referendum on whether the reservation should continue or not.

He alleged that during the last 10 years, the Modi government betrayed all sections of people.

Revanth Reddy alleged that PM Narendra Modi failed to implement his promises made in the 2014 and 2019 elections to provide two crore jobs every year to unemployed youth.

“The government should have provided 20 crore jobs in these 10 years but in reply to a question I asked in Lok Sabha in 2022, the government stated that only 7.21 lakh jobs were provided,” he said.

The Chief Minister also mentioned the Prime Minister’s promise to double the income of farmers and alleged that the government brought three “black” laws to make farmers slaves to the corporates in their own fields.

Lakhs of farmers came out in protest, forcing the government to withdraw the legislation and the Prime Minister to apologise, he added.

He also recalled that PM Modi had promised to bring black money stashed in Swiss banks and transfer Rs 15 lakh to every Jan Dhan account.

“He has not given even 10 paise to 40 crore Jan Dhan account holders.”

He recalled that when Modi became the Prime Minister, the price of a cooking gas cylinder was Rs. 410 but it has now gone up to Rs 1,200. A litre of petrol was priced at Rs 65 and now stands at Rs 110. Diesel, which was Rs 50 per litre, is today at Rs 100 per litre.

He also alleged that there was loot in the name of GST, and the BJP imposed GST on ‘agarbatti’ and pencils and erasers used by children.

Revanth Reddy claimed that the debts raised by Prime Minister Modi were double the cumulative debts raised by 14 Prime Ministers before him. The debts raised by 14 Prime Ministers was Rs 54 lakh crore but PM Modi alone borrowed to the tune of Rs 113 lakh crore.

He alleged that ports, airports and highways were all sold to corporations.

The Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, AICC in-charge Deepa Dasmunshi released the chargesheet, highlighting the “failures” of the Modi government during the last 10 years.

Dasmunshi said the INDIA alliance was formed to save democracy and the Constitution. She alleged that during the last 10 years, PM Modi failed to fulfil promises, including the promises made to Telangana. She remarked that a vote for Modi would be for “sarvanash” (disaster) and not “vikas” (development).

UP: Congress releases list of 40 star campaigners

Congress president Mallikarjun Khrage, former party chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are on the list of 40 star campaigners released by the party for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The other prominent names on the list are senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Pramod Tiwari, Sachin Pilot, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.

The second phase of voting in the state will be held on April 26.

Lashing out at the INDIA bloc, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the people of Uttar Pradesh and the OBC community need to be aware of the “dangerous game” played by the Opposition parties of trying to ‘snatch” their reservation rights and give it to their “vote banks”.

His remarks come in the wake of the row that erupted after the National Commission for Backward Castes pointed out that the Karnataka government has categorised the entire Muslim community in the state under the OBC category causing ‘injustice’ to the people of the OBC community.

Taking a jibe at the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance, PM Modi said that the foundation of friendship between the two boys in UP (Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav) is “appeasement politics.

“Addressing a public meeting in Agra on Thursday, PM Modi said, “Remember in 2012, right before the UP Assembly polls, Congress had tried something similar. They had tried to give a part of the OBC reservation to minorities on the basis of religion. But they couldn’t succeed in their intentions.”

As per the seat agreement between the Samajwadi Party and Congress in Uttar Pradesh, Congress is contesting on 17 seats and the Samajwadi Party has the remaining 63 seats in the electorally crucial state.

In Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 general elections, the BJP emerged triumphant, securing 62 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, supplemented by two seats clinched by its ally Apna Dal (S). Mayawati’s BSP managed to secure 10 seats, while Akhilesh Yadav’s SP garnered five. The Congress Party secured only one seat.

Uttar Pradesh sends the maximum number of MPs, 80 in total, to Parliament. The first phase of voting in the state has already taken place on April 19.

The remaining Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh will cast their votes in the subsequent phases of the election, namely, Phase 2 on April 26, Phase 3 on May 7, Phase 4 on May 13, Phase 5 on May 20, Phase 6 on May 25, and Phase 7 on June 1. The counting of votes will occur on June 4. (ANI)

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Campaigning ends for second phase of LS polls

This phase will encompass 89 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, MP, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tripura, UP, West Bengal, and J&K…reports Asian Lite News

The second round of voting for the 18th Lok Sabha elections is slated for April 26, subsequent to the initial phase held on April 19, which witnessed a participation rate of roughly 64 per cent.

This phase will encompass 89 Lok Sabha constituencies spread across 13 states, comprising Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jammu & Kashmir.

Bihar

Campaigning ended on Wednesday for five Lok Sabha seats in Bihar where electors will decide the fate of 50 candidate in the second phase of polling on April 26.

Leading the NDA charge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Purnea, a seat which is being contested by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s JD(U).

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed his first election meeting in Bihar at Bhagalpur, a seat the party is contesting after more than two decades.

The party has fielded MLA Ajeet Sharma against JD(U) MP Ajay Mandal from the seat.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge addressed rallies in Kishanganj, the lone seat the party secured in Bihar in 2019, and at Katihar, where former Union minister Tariq Anwar is trying to wrest back his pocket borough from JD(U) MP Dulal Chandra Goswami.

The Congress is contesting nine of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, and three of these are going to polls in the second phase.

Polls are also due, on April 26, in Banka, where JD(U) MP Giridhari Yadav’s bid to retain the seat faces a challenge from his predecessor Jai Prakash Yadav of RJD.

Assam

A high-pitched campaign for five parliamentary constituencies in Assam for the second phase of polls scheduled on April 26 ended on Wednesday.

A total of 61 candidates are in the fray.

Polling will be held for the two constituencies in Barak Valley – Silchar (SC) and Karimganj, one in the hill district – Diphu (ST) and two in the Brahmaputra Valley – Nagaon and Darrang-Udalguri.

Among the national leaders, Union Home Minister Amit Shah campaigned during the second phase by holding a roadshow in Silchar (SC) for the BJP candidate and Assam Minister Parimal Suklabaidya, while Trinamool Congress leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also campaigned in the second phase for the party’s Silchar (SC) candidate Radheshyam Biswas.

Chhattisgarh

The high-decibel campaign for the second phase of Lok Sabha polls covering three seats in Chhattisgarh, where voting will take place on Friday, ended on Wednesday evening, marked by acrimonious exchanges between the main rivals BJP and the Congress over issues like corruption, the Constitution and pre-poll promises.

The saffron party’s electioneering for the second phase saw rallies by prominent leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, while for the Congress, its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led the campaigning. Three Lok Sabha seats — Rajanandgaon, where former CM Bhupesh Baghel of the Congress is in the fray, Kanker (ST) and Mahasamund — will go to polls on April 26 (Friday) in the second phase.

Kerala

The over month-long, high-octane public campaign for the April 26 Lok Sabha polls drew to a close in Kerala on Wednesday, with various political parties holding massive rallies and road shows across the state, marking its culmination. Candidates wrapped up their final outdoor campaigning by touring major centres of the constituency, reaching out to voters, and reassuring their votes.

Even the final day of election campaign was marked by the presence of various national leaders in the state, including Home Minister Amit Shah, AICC Chief Mallikarjun Kharge, and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who addressed public meetings in various constituencies.

Madhya Pradesh

Union minister Virendra Kumar and Madhya Pradesh BJP chief VD Sharma are among 80 candidates in the fray from six constituencies in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections in the state, campaigning for which ended on Wednesday evening.

The upcoming contest is a straight fight between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, which had won just one of the 29 seats in MP in the 2019 general elections.

Uttar Pradesh

Campaigning for the second phase of polling slated for April 26 in eight Lok Sabha constituencies of Uttar Pradesh came to an end on Wednesday evening.

The eight constituencies where voting will be held on Friday are Amroha, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh and Mathura.

The Congress’ Danish Ali from Amroha and the BJP’s Atul Garg from Ghaziabad and Mahesh Sharma from Gautam Buddha Nagar toured their constituencies seeking the people’s support.

Rajasthan

Electioneering ended Wednesday evening in Rajasthan for the 13 remaining seats, including two constituencies where former chief ministers campaigned for their sons.

Among the 152 candidates in the fray in this phase are two Union ministers, the BJP state president and a former Assembly Speaker.

Maharashtra

As many as 204 candidates will battle it out for eight Lok Sabha seats on Friday in Maharashtra where the high-voltage campaigning for the second phase of polling ended on Wednesday evening.

A total of 1,49,25,912 voters — 77, 21, 374 males, 72,04,106 females and 432 of the third gender — are eligible to exercise their franchise and decide the electoral fate of 204 candidates.

ALSO READ-MP Phase 1 Polls: Over 63% Turnout, Chhindwara Hits 82.39%

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Biden Vows to ‘Move Heaven and Earth’ to Rebuild Baltimore Bridge

President Biden he surveyed the wreckage from last week’s bridge collapse in Baltimore in an effort to reaffirm his commitment to the people there.

President Joe Biden visited the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Friday (local time) and vowed to “move heaven and Earth” to rebuild the structure, The Hill reported.

“Folks, we’re going to move heaven and Earth to rebuild this bridge as rapidly as humanly possible,” he said.

“We’re going to do so with union labor and American steel,” the US President affirmed, describing the damage as “devastating.”

Biden delivered the remarks as he surveyed the wreckage from last week’s bridge collapse in Baltimore, reaffirming his commitment to the people there.

US President Biden says "going to move heaven and earth" to rebuild collapsed bridge in Baltimore

“I’m here to say, your nation has your back. And I mean it. Your nation has your back,” Biden said, speaking with the wreckage of the collapsed bridge in the backdrop, according to The Hill.

“The damage is devastating and our hearts are still breaking,” Biden said in a reference to six people who died when the bridge collapsed late last month.

The cargo ship Dali struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Interstate 695 last Tuesday, causing it to collapse into the ocean. The cargo ship was bound for Sri Lanka.

Reopening the Baltimore Port, which is usually one of the busiest in the US and essential to trade along the East Coast, was stated by the president as the top priority of his administration. According to him, authorities anticipate that the entire shipping channel will reopen by the end of May.

US President Biden says "going to move heaven and earth" to rebuild collapsed bridge in Baltimore

Biden, during his visit to the bridge collapse site, took an aerial tour of the wreckage. He also talked about his family ties to Baltimore, and the amount of time he spent driving over the bridge.

He also met the families of the victims who lost their lives.

The White House said Thursday that top administration officials have called major employers in the Baltimore area, including retail chains and distributors, urging them to retain workers in the aftermath of the bridge collapse.

Biden also called on Congress to do its part to address the fallout of the bridge collapse as Baltimore residents face questions about accessing schools, hospitals and offices.

The collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge, following a collision with a container ship early on March 26, has brought trade through the Maryland port to a grinding halt, causing significant disruptions to the flow of commodities, particularly coal and cobalt.

US President Biden says "going to move heaven and earth" to rebuild collapsed bridge in Baltimore

Furthermore, the closure is expected to impede US coal exports to key destinations such as India, China, Canada, and the Netherlands, with Baltimore handling a significant portion of these shipments.

Moreover, Baltimore’s ports were the third-largest destination for US imports of unwrought primary aluminium in 2023, further exacerbating the impact on the metals trade.

Furthermore, the closure is likely to necessitate the shifting of container traffic to other area ports, including those in New York, New Jersey, and Norfolk, Virginia, adding complexities to shipping operations. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Biden extends some immigrant work permits

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Gold prices surged to an all-time high

Spot gold hit $2,304.09 per ounce, remaining steady at $2,299.28 per ounce as of 0343 GMT. Meanwhile, spot silver fell to $27.08 per ounce, platinum edged down to $935.39, and palladium rose to $1,017.83…. reports Asian Lite News

Gold prices surged to an all-time high on Thursday following Federal Reserve officials’ reaffirmation of anticipated interest rate reductions in 2024, as reported by Reuters.

Spot gold was steady at $2,299.28 per ounce as of 0343 GMT and hit a record high of $2,304.09 earlier in the session. Bullion has hit record highs in each session since last week’s Thursday.

Spot silver fell 0.5% to $27.08 per ounce, platinum edged down 0.1% to $935.39 and palladium was up 0.4% at $1.017.83.

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Tejashwi targets Modi over promises

Tejashwi Yadav pointed out that the PM was supporting a dynastic candidate from his alliance, highlighting a significant difference between the PM’s words and actions…reports Asian Lite News

Former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding his first rally in Bihar. He questioned whether the PM would speak against nepotism in his election campaign in the state.

Yadav pointed out that the PM was supporting a dynastic candidate from his alliance, highlighting a significant difference between the PM’s words and actions.

“PM Modi in his election campaigns always talks about dynastic politics. But, in his very first campaign in Bihar, he rallied for the candidate, who himself is a dynastic politician. This shows the difference between what he says and how he acts,” he said.

Tejashwi Yadav, while speaking about the misuse of government agencies, alleged that when leaders join the BJP, cases against them by agencies like the ED and CBI are closed, and they are made ministers.

“It has been observed that as soon as leaders join the BJP, cases against them by agencies like the ED and CBI are closed. It’s evident to everyone that cases against those who join the BJP are dismissed. Whether someone has been involved in a scam of Rs 70,000 crore or any other case, they are made ministers, and their cases are closed,” he said.

While speaking about Congress leader Pappu Yadav’s decision to file a nomination from Purnea, Tejashwi Yadav said, “We have our own party and our own alliance. I am going to Purnea for my own candidate, and I believe that Bima Bharti will win by a big margin.

It is worth noting that the former MP Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, who merged his Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) with the Congress, is adamant about contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Purnia constituency, the seat given to the RJD as per the agreement reached by the alliance. His stand has put pressure on the Grand Alliance in Bihar.

The Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance), the opposition coalition in Bihar, including Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress, and Left parties, recently announced that the RJD, its largest constituent, will contest 26 out of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats, including Purnia, in the upcoming elections.

Pappu Yadav has even urged RJD supremo Lalu Yadav to reconsider his decision regarding Purnia and give it to the Congress since the RJD announced that it would field former minister and Rupauli MLA Bima Bharati from the seat.

Bihar will see polling in seven phases. The first phase of polling will be held on April 19, the second phase on April 26, the third phase on May 7, the fourth phase on May 13, the fifth phase on May 20, the sixth phase on May 25, and the seventh phase on June 1.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the NDA, which included the BJP, JDU (Janata Dal-United), and LJP (Lok Janshakti Party), won 39 out of 40 seats. In contrast, the Mahagathbandhan, led by the RJD (Rashtriya Janata Dal), INC (Indian National Congress), and RLSP (Rashtriya Lok Samta Party), only managed to secure one seat.

The Lok Sabha Elections 2024 will be held in seven phases from April 19. Counting of votes on June 4. (ANI)

Pawar says people’s mood is against PM

Sharad Pawar, the president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), remarked during a press conference in Nagpur that there has been a noticeable shift in public sentiment leading up to the Lok Sabha elections, with growing opposition towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid for a third term.

Pawar criticized Modi’s silence on China’s encroachment on Indian territory, contrasting it with his previous criticism of the Indira Gandhi government’s actions regarding Katchatheevu island. Pawar expressed confidence in his daughter Supriya Sule’s chances of winning the Baramati Lok Sabha seat and noted the changing political landscape where various ideologies are aligning to defeat the BJP.

He emphasized the need for anti-BJP leaders to unite against what he sees as attacks on democracy and the Constitution. Pawar also addressed Modi’s criticism of the opposition alliance, suggesting that the PM’s rhetoric is difficult to counter effectively. He dismissed the notion that his friendly relations with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari influenced the NCP’s decision not to field a candidate against him in Nagpur.

Pawar welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to grant bail to AAP leader Sanjay Singh and expressed support for him in the opposition alliance. He acknowledged Modi’s strategic planning for the first 100 days of his government’s potential third term and commended his political acumen. Additionally, Pawar attended the filing of nomination by NCP candidate Amar Kale in Wardha prior to the press conference.

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Hunt seeks to win over voters with £900 tax cut

Chancellor of the Exchequer also announced another 2 percentage-point cut to the national insurance payroll tax, following a similar move in Nov…reports Asian Lite News

Jeremy Hunt cut personal taxes as the Conservative Party tries to win back voters ahead of a nationwide election expected later this year.

Delivering his budget, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced another 2 percentage-point cut to the national insurance payroll tax, following a similar move in November. Taken together, he said, 27 million employees will get an average tax cut of £900 (€1,052) a year. He also said the UK’s budget watchdog had upgraded the country’s growth prospects for this year and next.

“We know that lower-taxed economies have more energy, more dynamism, and more innovation,” Hunt said in the House of Commons on Wednesday. “We have today put this country back on the path to lower taxes.”

The tax cut is a central part of the Tories’ strategy to close a 20-point gap to the opposition Labour Party in national polls, prior to an election that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must call by January 25 at the latest. But Hunt was constrained by fragile public finances with the UK entering a recession last year, and the chancellor went into his budget with just £12.2bn (€14.26bn) of breathing space against his key fiscal rule, a margin near historic lows.

Hunt barely kept his budget within the self-imposed rule to have the ratio of borrowing to GDP falling in the final year of his five-year forecast period. He did so by raising taxes by extending a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies and overhauling a tax break for foreigners moving to the UK.

After the change, foreigners arriving in the UK will have a four-year hiatus on tax on their overseas assets, before paying the same rate as Britons. The current non-dom regime lasts for 15 years but with an annual fee.

In a move that appeared designed to get more houses onto the market, Hunt announced a reduction in property capital gains tax and the end of a tax break for people renting out second homes as short-term lets for tourists. Hunt also said the threshold at which families start to lose child benefits will rise by £10,000 in April.

Other budget measures included a freeze on fuel and alcohol duty, a new tax on vaping, and a hike in air passenger duty on business travel.

The Conservatives were given a boost by the rosier growth forecasts from the OBR: Hunt said growth is now due to be 0.8% in 2024, up from the previous estimate of 0.7%. The watchdog is now predicting 1.9% growth for 2025, compared to a previous reading of 1.4%, Hunt said.

Hunt also said he wouldn’t be reducing future public spending plans, an option he’d been considering to help finance his tax cuts. Still, critics have said the 1% increase in spending Hunt is baking in — which involves real terms cuts for unprotected departments — would be politically unsustainable. Hunt didn’t detail his plans, but said boosting public sector productivity would be a key priority.

The budget measures will increase the UK tax burden by 1.1 percentage points, the OBR said.

“The hidden sting in the tail is the continued frozen tax thresholds which will eat into any savings” from the national insurance cut, Christine Cairns, tax partner at PwC, said in an emailed statement.

The chancellor is navigating the constraints of fragile public finances and a stagnant economy that entered a shallow technical recession at the end of 2023.

Inflation has fallen faster than anticipated and market expectations for interest rates are well below where they were prior to Hunt’s Autumn Statement in November, but many British households are still feeling the cost of living squeeze, while public services remain extremely stretched.

Former British finance minister Philip Hammond said it would be a mistake not to have a system in place that encourages so-called “non-doms” to reside in the U.K.

Non-domiciled tax status allows people who are based, but not settled, in the country to only pay U.K. tax on money made in the country. As part of the Spring Budget statement, U.K. Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday that this would be scrapped and replaced with a new system.

“It would be a massive own goal to remove non-dom taxation and then see a big outflow of investment from the U.K.,” Hammond told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro on Wednesday.

“It would be a mistake to have no regime in place that encouraged people in those circumstances to base themselves in the U.K.,” he said. “If we said for example to people that they have to pay tax on their worldwide assets if they come and spend time in the U.K. I think that would probably be detrimental to the U.K. economy in the long term.”

Hammond said the integrity of the policy would now depend on the details of Hunt’s new plan.

Hammond was broadly positive about the statement, saying it was “a careful and thoughtful budget from a careful and thoughtful Chancellor.”

He also said that he would like to see lower taxes eventually, but that public services needed to be taken into account. “In the future we need higher productivity, higher economic growth, so we can reconcile this tension between the desire for good public services and the desire to keep taxes at a bearable level.”

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