Mon, 05th December 2016

Anirudh Sethi Report


Archives of “Politics” Category

Trump’s Lead in PA Shrinks By 22,000 Votes

Reports are claiming that Donald Trump’s lead over Hillary Clinton in the Pennsylvania popular vote has shrunk by some 22,000 votes as some counties wrap up counting overseas ballots and settled provisional ballot challenges.

According to Philly Voice, an updated count Friday by state election officials shows Trump’s lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton has shrunk from 71,000 to 49,000.

If this new number is accurate, Trump’s lead is at 0.8 percent, down from more than 1 percent. That is still shy of Pennsylvania’s 0.5 percent trigger for an automatic statewide recount.

On Monday, Jill Stein of the Green Party filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania seeking a statewide recount of presidential votes in a continuation of her mission to contest the election results in three key voting states.

Philly.com reported

Legal papers filed in Commonwealth Court by a lawyer for Stein’s campaign contend the Nov. 8 election was “illegal” and the results inaccurate based on research suggesting there might have been irregularities with electronic voting machines, among other evidence.

“Petitioners have grave concerns about the integrity of electronic voting machines used in their districts,” the suit stated.

Italy’s Approval of Constitutional Reform to Put EU Integration Back on Track

In case Italian voters approve constitutional changes in a referendum, it will stimulate the European integration process as a “yes” vote will boost positions of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s center-left government in Europe against the Italian populists and right-wing parties, Alessandro Maran, a lawmaker from Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD), told Sputnik on Saturday.

On Sunday, Italy is due to hold the referendum on constitutional changes primarily aimed at eliminating equal powers of two parliament’s chambers and thus avoiding political instability and frequent fall of governments. As far as Renzi staked his future on the outcome of the referendum, the opposition tried to use a vote on reforms as a tool to express overall dissatisfaction with PD policies and the prime minister’s record in office. “If, as I hope, the Yes camp prevails, Renzi’s government and PD will play a vital role in Europe. It would be a great opportunity for our country and could bring the European integration process back on track,” Maran, the Senate’s Constitutional Affairs Committee member, said. Polls cannot be published in the last two weeks of campaigning, but most polls before this time limit predicted that Renzi-lobbied reforms were unlikely to pass. A poll conducted by Ixe for Agora-Rai3 TV station showed that 42 percent of voters did not want constitutional changes, 37 percent are in favor of them, and over 20 percent of respondents remained undecided.

Italy’s Renzi not stepping down even if he wins Sunday’s referendum

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s office denied news reports that the premier is considering stepping down even if he wins the Dec. 4 referendum.

Our eagle-eyed friends at Livesquawk spotting the Bloomberg story from earlier.

Officials dismissed the reports as speculation in a text message today. Italian newspapers including Corriere della Sera reported earlier in the day that Renzi might resign even if voters on Sunday pass the constitutional reform he is requesting. The officials declined to be identified in line with internal policy”

Renzi told reporters on Monday, when asked about his plan for after Sunday’s vote:

“The Italian institutional system has many safeguards so there is always a government — political, technocratic, super-political, hyper-political, hyper-technical,” .

He has previously said in interviews and in speeches in the Rome-based Parliament that he would step down if he loses the referendum.

The newspapers said that Renzi would seek re-appointment after his potential resignation in order to form a new government with a broader majority within the current parliament. Under the plan, they said, the cabinet would be reshuffled and lawmakers would pass a new voting law before general elections next year or in 2018.

More from Bloomberg here

Only a few days now before we see the next global protest vote in action.


Majority of Japanese disappointed with Trump’s win: poll

More than half of Japanese are unhappy with Donald Trump’s victory in the U.S. presidential election, but many do not see it affecting bilateral relations, a recent Nikkei Inc./TV Tokyo poll shows.

In the telephone survey from Friday to Sunday, 56% of respondents said they were disappointed that Trump would be the next American leader, greatly outnumbering the 20% seeing it as a positive development. The businessman’s inflammatory rhetoric on the campaign trail seems to have raised concerns in Japan. By gender, 62% of women were critical of him, compared with 51% of men.

 But the president-elect seems to have adopted a more pragmatic approach in some areas since the Nov. 8 vote. A plurality of poll respondents, or 46%, foresee no change in bilateral relations under the Trump administration, while 34% expect ties to deteriorate and 6% expect an improvement.
 During the campaign, Trump called on Japan to shoulder a heavier financial burden for maintaining the American military presence here. A majority, 51%, responded that the current framework should not be altered, with 34% saying that Japan should pay less and 5% that it should pay more

Brahma Chellaney — Trump could ‘pivot’ to Asia like Obama never did

U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategic “pivot” toward Asia, unveiled in 2012, attracted much international attention but did little to tame China’s muscular approach to territorial, maritime and trade disputes. Indeed, with the United States focused on the Islamic world, Obama’s much-touted Asian pivot seemed to lose its way somewhere in the arc between Iraq and Libya. Will President-elect Donald Trump’s approach to Asia be different?

In his first meeting with a foreign leader since his surprise Nov. 8 election triumph, Trump delivered a reassuring message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who, in turn, described him as a “trustworthy leader.” In a smart diplomatic move, Abe made a special stop in New York on Nov. 17, en route to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, to meet face-to-face with Trump, who shares his conservative, nationalistic outlook.

 Today, Asia faces the specter of power disequilibrium. Concern that Trump could undo Obama’s pivot to Asia by exhibiting an isolationist streak ignores the fact that the pivot has remained more rhetorical than real. Even as Obama prepares to leave office, the pivot — rebranded as “rebalancing” — has not acquired any concrete strategic content.
 If anything, the coining of a catchy term, “pivot,” has helped obscure the key challenge confronting the U.S.: To remain the principal security anchor in Asia in the face of a relentless push by a revisionist China to expand its frontiers and sphere of influence.

Trump indeed could face an early test of will from a China determined to pursue its “salami slicing” approach to gaining regional dominance. In contrast to Russia’s preference for full-fledged invasion, China has perfected the art of creeping, covert warfare through which it seeks to take one “slice” of territory at a time, by force.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, right, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, on Nov. 17. © Reuters

With Obama having increasingly ceded ground to China in Asia during his tenure, Beijing feels emboldened, as evident in its incremental expansionism in the South China Sea and its dual Silk Road projects under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The Maritime Silk Road is just a new name for Beijing’s “string of pearls” strategy, aimed at increasing its influence in the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, without incurring any international costs, China aggressively continues to push its borders far out into international waters in a way that no other power has done.

Indeed, boosting naval prowess and projecting power far from its shores are at the center of China’s ambition to fashion a strongly Sino-centric Asia. Boasting one of the world’s fastest-growing undersea fleets, China announced earlier in November that its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is ready for combat. Such revanchist moves will inevitably test the new U.S. administration’s limits.

Govt spending Rs10 crore on demonetisation awareness ads

If you’re among the cash-starved people queuing up outside banks and ATMs, chances are that you’ve also spotted the billboards and hoardings that read “Kar-chori se ladai mein, mera paisa surakshit hai” (In the fight against tax evasion, my money is safe). The billboards carry the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with details on the deadline to submit the scrapped currency notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 denominations.

These billboards are part of the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) Rs10 crore advertising campaign to promote its demonetisation drive.

The advertising plan also includes print media ads and radio commercials that started on the FM stations earlier this week.

According to a person aware of the government’s ad budget for the campaign, the sum being spent on demonetisation awareness is pretty low compared to the expenditure onother government schemes.

The person requested anonymity as he’s not authorised to speak with the media.

The government has spent in excess of Rs100 crore on its Swachh Bharat Abhiyan ad camapaign this year, according to the person cited above. Another campaign that had an ambitious advertising budget was the government’s income disclosure scheme.

Putin Calls Trump To Congratulate President Elect, Renormalize Relations

Moments ago the Kremlin released a statement in which the Russian presidency reported that Putin and Trump held a conversation, in which the Russian leader congratulated his American counterpart again on his victory in the presidential election, wished him “success in the implementation of the pre-election program, and noted his willingness to build a partnership dialogue with the new administration on the principles of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other.”

During the conversation, Putin and Trump “not only agreed to assess the current unsatisfactory state of bilateral relations, but also spoke in favor of active joint work to normalize relations and aim for constructive cooperation on a wide range of issues. The call emphasized in particular the importance of creating a solid foundation of bilateral ties through the development of trade and economic relations.

 In the call, it was also noted that that “next year marks 210 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and the United States, which in itself should stimulate a return to pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation, which would meet the interests of both countries, stability and security throughout the world.”

Putin and Trump shared thoughts on the need for joint efforts in the fight against the common enemy number one – international terrorism and extremism. In this vein, and discussed issues of the settlement of the crisis in Syria.

The two agreed to continue contact by phone and agreed to meet in person in the future.

And here is the just released readout of the call from the Trump transition team side:

Donald Trump’s First Interview Since Winning The Election: Key Highlights And Full Transcript

In his first televised interview since winning the election this week, a “more serious, more subdued” Donald Trump spoke to CBS’ 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl from his penthouse in the Trump Tower.

As CBS’ Lesley Stahl summarized the interview, “what we discovered in Mr. Trump’s first television interview as president-elect, was that some of his signature issues at the heart of his campaign were not meant to be taken literally, but as opening bids for negotiation.

Before we get into the nuances of Trump’s interview whose full transcript is presented at the end of this post, for those pressed for time here are the key highlights from Trump’s interview:

  • Trump says he will talk with FBI Director Comey before deciding whether to ask his resignation, says “I respect him a lot”
  • Trump, on pledge to appoint special prosecutor to investigate Clintons, says “I don’t want to hurt them. They’re good people”
  • Trump says he is “fine” with same-sex marriage; says He Does Not Intend To Overturn Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Marriage
  • Trump confirms he will forego salary as president
  • Trump tells protesters: “don’t be afraid”
  • Trump condemns harassment of minorities
  • Trump vows to name pro-life, pro-gun rights Supreme Court justices