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‘Don’t talk to me that way’: Trump berates reporter

The development comes after Trump said on Thursday that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for the President-elect…reports Asian Lite News

US President Donald Trump lashed out at a reporter and called him “lightweight” after the latter questioned the President over the November 3 election outcome which has projected Democrat Joe Biden as the winner.

At a briefing, Jeff Mason, the Reuters White House correspondent, asked the President if he would concede if the Electoral College voted for President-elect Joe Biden in December, The Hill news website reported on Friday.

Trump responded by saying: “Don’t talk to me that way.”

US President Donald Trump formallt accepts Republican nomination.

As the reporter was trying to apologise, the President interrupted him and added: “I’m the President of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the President that way.”

The development comes after Trump said on Thursday that he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for the President-elect.

So far, Biden has won 80,218,808 popular votes to date, compared to Trump’s 73,947,962, according to The Cook Political Report, an influential analytical site focused on US presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections.

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 electoral votes, surpassing the 270-vote threshold for clinching the presidency.

US President Donald Trump

Biden has declared victory and announced the first tranche of his Cabinet nominees, including national security and foreign policy officials.

The General Services Administration has initiated Biden’s formal transition into the White House, but Trump, despite having directed his administration to facilitate the process, has vowed to continue the legal fight to challenge the election results.

Also read:Trump Loses Appeal in Pennsylvania

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Kashmiris Throng To Vote in Local Polls

Thousands of voters in Jammu and Kashmir vote for the maiden District Development Council (DDC) polls, and the Panchayat by-elections.

According to officials, 296 candidates are contesting the first phase of the DDC polls— 172 from Kashmir and 124 from Jammu. A total of 1475 candidates are in the fray for the first phase that includes seats for Panchs and Sarpanchs also.

The DDC elections and panchayat By-Polls 2020 are being held in 8 phases commencing from 28th November to 19th December. The counting of votes shall be conducted on 22nd of December.

In all, 280 DDC members will be elected in the eight-phase elections which will end on December 19. The counting will be held on December 22. This is the first major electoral exercise after the central government scrapped the special status of the erstwhile state of J&K and bifurcated it into two union territories— J&K and Ladakh.

In the first phase of the DDC polls, officials said that 43 constituencies will go to polls — 25 in Kashmir and 18 in Jammu. In all, 2644 polling stations have been set up for 7,03,620 electors in this phase.

Officials said the voting for this phase will be from 7 am to 2 pm.

“On Friday, the polling stations in J&K were sanitized in view of COVID19,” they said, adding that the availability of all protective and sanitisation equipment like sanitizers, non-contact thermometers, facemasks , face-shields and PPE kits have been provided at the polling stations for the staff and the voters.

They said fool-proof mechanism has been devised for the postal ballots from absentee voters, especially the COVID19 patients in homes and institutional quarantine and isolation.

The DDC polls are being held on party basis and 280 elected members will elect the chairman for district developmental boards.

Among the 280 DDC seats in the union territory – 140 are each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions i.e. 14 constituencies have been earmarked in each of the 20 districts of the union territory.

For the by-elections to Panchayats, 899 candidates are in the fray for the Panch seats and 280 for the Sarpanch seats.

The campaigning for the first phase came to an end on Thursday. Officials said elaborate arrangements have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the polls and special measures taken in view of the COVID19 pandemic.

The eight-phase elections are seen as a triangular contest among the Peoples’ Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the BJP and the Apni Party. The PAGD is seeking the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Officials said the State Election Commissioner has directed for setting up of special polling stations for Kashmiri migrants at Jammu and Udhampur so that they can effectively exercise their right of franchise.

State Election Commissioner, J&K, KK Sharma today said that 36 Sarpanchs and 768 Panchs have been elected unopposed, mostly in Kashmir Valley.

He said: “368 Panch constituencies will go for by-elections tomorrow in J&K in which a total of 852 candidates are in fray including 635 males and 217 females.”

None of the candidates in DDC has won unopposed, he said, when asked during a press conference here in Jammu.

Regarding Sarpanch by-polls being held in the first phase (November 28), he said: “279 candidates are contesting for 94 Sarpanch constituencies. Out of 279, there are 203 male and female 76.” He said that 57 lakh voters will participate in Panchayat elections in eight phases whereas 7 lakh voters will participate in the first phase of elections and around 2001 polling stations have been established.

“We have made all arrangements even in remote areas of Doda, Kishtwar of Jammu region and Kupwara and Bandipora of Kashmir valley where we had a challenge to shift the election material, security, and polling staff to the polling stations,” he said.

Sharma said: “We sent polling staff in advance to the remote areas where we had apprehensions about such areas may get disconnected due to snowfall. Hence, we arranged a helicopter and took help of air force in areas like Doda, Kishtwar, Bandipora and Kupwara districts.”

He said: “We have no shortage of police, though we have some problems in Kishtwar and Gurez (Bandipora). However, with the improvement in weather, the required number of police force has been sent to the respective polling stations and all arrangements have been put in place for fair elections. Polling officers and presiding officers have also reached their polling stations.”

Regarding the SOPs related to COVID 19 pandemic, the SEC urged the people to follow the guideline issued by the Election Commission besides putting on their facemasks and maintaining the social distance during polling.

He also said that sanitizers, thermal scanners and facemasks shall also be provided to the voters, in case they forget to carry their own facemasks/ sanitizers.

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Imran Asks PDM To Call Off Rallies

Pakistan Democratic Party (PDM) rally

In the wake of an ongoing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated that his government will not permit the PDM opposition alliance to hold anymore public rallies.

“The coronavirus is spreading dangerously, therefore the opposition should postpone PDM public meetings,” Dawn news quoted Khan as saying while addressing his spokespersons at the Prime Minister’s House on Friday.

Quoting the premier, a participant of the meeting said: “The government will strictly enforce standard operating procedures (SOP) and not allow the opposition to hold rallies as the health guidelines did not permit large gatherings.”

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an alliance comprising 11 of the country’s opposition parties, has so far held four anti-government power shows in Gujranwala (October 16), Karachi (October 19), Quetta (October 25) and Peshawar (November 22), while two are scheduled for November 30 and December 13 in Multan and Lahore, respectively.

Pakistan Democratic Party (PDM) rally

Meanwhile in an attempt to stop the PDM’s fifth public rally, the police and district administration of Multan have 30 containers around the venue area and more are being brought in to block roads leading to the city.

According to police sources, more than 200 workers of PDM constituent parties have been arrested and raids are being conducted to nab others, reports Dawn news.

Fascist regime continues to arrest Democratic activists in Multan. These puppets are scared of jiyalas. Try as they might they cannot stop PPP from marking our foundation day along with PDM leaders on 30th November,” Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tweeted on Friday.

Also, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Punjab President Rana Sanaullah declared that the Multan rally will be held at all costs.

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Trump Loses Appeal in Pennsylvania

A federal appeals court in the US state of Pennsylvania upheld a previous ruling by a lower court against the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump, dealing another blow to his effort to overturn the results of the November 3 election.

On Friday, the three-judge panel of the Third US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia determined that the Trump campaign’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the state “have no merit”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote in the 21-page opinion.

“Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” he added.

The three Republican-appointed judges determined that US District Judge Matthew Brann’s ruling last week to reject the campaign’s lawsuit seeking to prevent the Pennsylvania’s certification of its election results for Democratic President-elect Joe Biden was justified.

The campaign’s lawsuit alleged that some counties in the ‘Keystone State’ allowed mail-in voters to fix problems by casting provisional ballots.

Brann said in a scathing opinion that the lawsuit provided “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence”.

The judge appointed by former President Barack Obama said he could not find any case in which a plaintiff “has sought such a drastic remedy in the contest of an election”.

In reaction to Friday’s development, Trump said on Twitter that the ruling was “all a continuation of the never ending Witch Hunt”, adding that Brann “would not even allow us to present our case or evidence” .

Brann didn’t allow the campaign to file an amended complaint, which led to the campaign’s appeal.

“The Campaign never alleges that any ballot was fraudulent or cast by an illegal voter,” wrote Bibas, the Third Circuit’s judge.

“It never alleges that any defendant treated the Trump campaign or its votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or its votes. Calling something discrimination does not make it so.

“The Second Amended Complaint still suffers from these core defects, so granting leave to amend would have been futile,” he added.

The Trump campaign is reportedly going to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania certified its election results on Tuesday for Biden, formally awarding its 20 electoral votes to the former Vice President.

US President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.

So far, Biden has won 80,218,808 popular votes to date, compared to Trump’s 73,947,962, according to The Cook Political Report, an influential analytical site focused on US presidential, congressional and gubernatorial elections.

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 electoral votes, surpassing the 270-vote threshold for clinching the presidency.

Biden has declared victory and announced the first tranche of his Cabinet nominees, including national security and foreign policy officials.

The General Services Administration has initiated Biden’s formal transition into the White House, but Trump, despite having directed his administration to facilitate the process, has vowed to continue the legal fight to challenge the election results.

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AL WEEKEND – Nov 28-29 – Trump Sets Terms To Leave White House

Asian Lite WEEKEND – Nov 28-29, 2020 – Trump Sets Terms To Leave White House – Click here to read the full edition –  https://bit.ly/36da02f

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Turkey, Russia call for global support for Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians…reports Asian Lite News

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed the possibility of involving other countries in efforts to maintain a cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh. Arab News reports

Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered cease-fire on Nov. 10 that halted six weeks of clashes in the mountain enclave, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the enclave under the cease-fire deal, which locked in Azeri advances. Turkey has no peacekeepers there but has signed an agreement with Russia to set up a joint center to monitor the cease-fire.

“We have the opportunity to develop and expand this more. We discussed these development and expansion efforts with Mr.Putin too,” Erdogan said.

He said the process of maintaining the cease-fire could be taken “to a different level” if other countries in the region were involved but did not name any in his public comments. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has rejected doubts over a trilateral ceasefire statement centred around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

On Saturday, Lavrov said during a briefing that issues related to the implementation of the ceasefire statement were fully discussed at the meeting with the Armenian leadership, including ensuring the operation of the Russian peacekeeping mission and conducting humanitarian actions, reports Xinhua news agency.

Also read:Germany Threatens Turkey with EU Sanctions

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Pennsylvania court halts vote certification

The ruling came one day after the state’s department of state certified the results for Democrat Joe Biden and Governor Tom Wolf’s subsequent ascertainment that the former vice president is the apparent president-elect…reports Asian Lite News

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in the US on Wednesday ordered an injunction halting the certification of the rest of the ballots in the presidential election, pending a hearing about a case filed by Republicans alleging irregularities in mail-in voting.

The ruling came one day after the state’s department of state certified the results for Democrat Joe Biden and Governor Tom Wolf’s subsequent ascertainment that the former vice president is the apparent president-elect, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Republican voters in the state, including Representative Mike Kelly and GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell, brought up a case alleging that a state law allowing for no-excuse absentee voting violated the Pennsylvania constitution.

“To the extent that there remains any further action to perfect the certification of the results of the 2020 General Election … for the office of President and Vice President of the United States of America, Respondents are preliminarily enjoined from doing so, pending an evidentiary hearing,” Judge Patricia McCullough wrote in the ruling. The hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro disputed the ruling, saying on Twitter that the “order does not impact yesterday’s appointment of electors. We will be filing an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court momentarily.”

Since Biden was projected by US media to have won the November 3 election, the campaign of President Donald Trump has filed over 30 lawsuits across several states seeking to overturn the results – most of which have failed. Pennsylvania is where the campaign still has some of its last active litigations.

The General Services Administration has started the formal transition process for Biden, and the “outreach” by the federal agency, as Biden told media in an interview aired Wednesday, “has been sincere” without “begrudging so far.”

Trump said Monday that he had directed the federal government to facilitate the transition, which he said is “in the best interest of our Country.” In the meantime, the President said the legal fights will continue.

Also read:US allows TikTok 7-day extension

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Biden to name Janet Yellen as US treasury secretary

Yellen was an economic adviser to Biden’s campaign…reports Asian Lite News

US President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former chief of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen as America’s next Treasury secretary, according to a news break by The Wall Street Journal.

If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisers. She was the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve.

Yellen, 74, is an expert on unemployment and will wade into a tanking economy with a still-elevated national unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yellen was an economic adviser to Biden’s campaign.

Also read:Biden to choose Antony Blinken as State Secretary

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State Secretary Blinken sees India ties as ‘high priority’

Kamala Harris, who will be the vice president, described Blinken as “crisis-tested” and among the “best of America.”…Arul Louis

Antony Blinken, who has said that strengthening ties with India would be a “high-priority” in a new administration, has been designated for the post of secretary by Joe Biden.

Making the announcement of key foreign policy and national security designees on Monday, Biden said, “We have no time to lose when it comes to our national security and foreign policy. I need a team ready on Day One to help me reclaim America’s seat at the head of the table, rally the world to meet the biggest challenges we face, and advance our security, prosperity, and values.”

Kamala Harris, who will be the vice president, described Blinken as “crisis-tested” and among the “best of America.”

Blinken, who was the deputy secretary of state in the administraiton of former President Barack Obama, said during the presidential campaign that from “Biden’s perspective, strengthening and deepening the relationship with India is going to be a very high priority.”

An important designation was that of former Secretary of State John Kerry as the special presidential envoy for climate and as a member of the National Security Council, highlighting the high-level of importance Biden places on the environment.

A close adviser to Biden, Jake Sullivan has been designated for the national security Advisor post. He had been national secretary advisor to Biden when he was the vice president.

Avril Haines, who was designated for the director of national intelligence, will become the first woman to head the intelligence community.

She is a former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and deputy national security advisor and had worked with Biden when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the designee for Secretary of Homeland Security, the first Latino to hold the post if confirmed by the Senate.

For permanent representative to the United Nations, Biden has designated Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who will get a cabinet rank. She is a former assistant secretary of state in charge of Africa.

Harris said, “These crisis-tested national security and foreign policy leaders have the knowledge and expertise to keep our country safe and restore and advance America’s leadership around the world. They represent the best of America.”

Biden choice of key staff is limited by the possibility that the Republicans may continue to control the Senate, which will have to approve cabinet-level appointments and some others like the CIA head. His nominees will, therefore, have to be moderates to get the votes of some Republicans.

Blinken is considered closer to the centre.

He has met with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar when he was the foreign secretary and Blinken was the deputy secretary of state.

India is “fair, stable, and hopefully increasingly democratic and it’s vital to being able to tackle some of these big global challenges,” Blinken said in July while speaking at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank.

“It’s usually important to the future of the Indo-Pacific and the kind of order that we all want,” he said affirming President Donald Trump’s emphasis on the region as a counterbalance to China.

He spoke of the differences Biden has with India over Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act, which gives priority for citizenship to Christians, Buddhists and Sikhs fleeing persecution in neighbouring Muslim countries.

US President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.

Rather than the punitive actions advocated by some in the Democratic Party, Blinken said at the Hudson Institute, “You’re always better engaging with a partner and a vitally important one like India, when you can speak frankly and directly about areas where you have differences even as you’re working to build greater cooperation and strengthen the relationship going forward.”

“That would be the approach and again, I think we’ve seen evidence that it works,” he said.

But that would still be an irritant in the relations between the two democracies.

Biden is taking a broader view of international relations integrating the strategic aspects of issues like climate change, for which he has given high priority.

Blinken was a key figure in the Paris climate negotiations that produced the landmark agreement on fighting global warming.

He said that US team with Biden “worked hard to persuade India that it would be more prosperous and more secure if it’s signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. We succeeded. It wasn’t easy.”

Trump pulled out of the Paris pact, which Biden has vowed to rejoin.

Also read:Study: Cases may double before Biden takes office

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Trump to appeal against Pennsylvania ruling

The lawsuit claimed that some counties in Pennsylvania allowed mail-in voters to fix problems with the ballots by casting provisional ballots, which the campaign said were cast illegally for Democrat Joe Biden…reports Asian Lite News

The re-election campaign of US President Donald Trump has announced that it would seek an expedited appeal after a federal judge in the state of Pennsylvania dismissed a lawsuit which sought to block millions of mail-in ballots cast in the November 3 presidential election.

In a joint statement late Saturday, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani and the campaign’s senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis said that they would seek an expedited appeal to the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals, reports Xinhua news agency.

They said the latest development will help quicken their effort to push the case to the US Supreme Court.

The lawsuit claimed that some counties in Pennsylvania allowed mail-in voters to fix problems with the ballots by casting provisional ballots, which the campaign said were cast illegally for Democrat Joe Biden.

Saturday’s ruling by US District Court Judge Matthew Brann was made on the grounds that the lawsuit provided “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence”.

“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” wrote the judge, who was appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama.

US media have projected that Biden has won 306 Electoral College votes, surpassing the 270 votes needed to clinch the presidency.

The watershed moment came on November 7, when Pennsylvania was called for Biden, who now leads Trump in the state by over 81,000 votes, a margin believed to be insurmountable even if those erroneously cast ballots were excluded.

For the Trump campaign, time is ticking away as Pennsylvania is scheduled to certify its election results on Monday, all but certain to grant its 20 Electoral College votes to Biden.

While Biden has claimed victory, Trump launched a slew of litigations challenging the results in states that, in addition to Pennsylvania, also include Michigan, Georgia, Nevada and Arizona.

Most of those efforts have either been withdrawn by the campaign itself or rejected by the courts, which cited the lack of proof as the reason.

On Friday, Georgia certified the results of the election following the full hand recount, making it official that Biden won the state’s 16 electoral votes.

The recount of roughly five million votes found that the former Vice President received 12,284 more votes than the President in the traditional Republican stronghold.

Most counties saw only minor changes in their tallies, with the recount vote totals differing by single digits.

A federal law sets what is called the “Safe Harbor” deadline, falling on December 8 this year, the day by which states must submit the winner of the presidential election if they are to be insulated from legal disputes.

Electoral College representatives will meet six days later, on December 14, to formally select the next US President.

Also read:Trump campaign’s lawsuit rejected in Pennsylvania