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Trump makes last ditch effort to retain House majority as Americans vote in crucial mid-term polls

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Washington | President Donald Trump made a last-ditch effort to retain majority in the US House of Representatives as he appealed to his supporters across the country to “get out and vote” for his Republican party in the crucial mid-term polls on Tuesday which will decide the balance of powers in the Congress over the next two years.

Americans would elect 435 members of the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 Senate seats in the mid-term polls.

The Republican party currently has majority in both the Senate and the House and Trump and his team left no stone unturned to campaign in favour of his Republican party.

During an election-eve rally in Cleveland on Monday, President Trump claimed that mid-term elections, which used to be “boring”, have now become the “hottest thing” because of him, attributing voter turnout and media attention to his presidency.

Addressing his supporters, he said, “The key is you have to go out to vote because in a sense I am on the ticket. You got to go out to vote.”

Thereafter, he held campaign rallies in Indiana and Missouri wherein he urged his supporters to vote for his party as he wants to retain majority on the US House of Representatives.

According to political pundits, the Democrats have a good chance of winning the House, while the Republicans are likely to retain the Senate.

US House of Representatives – similar to India’s Lok Sabha – has 435 seats, of which the Republicans in the current Congress has 235 seats and the Democrats have 193.

Elections for all the members of the House are held every two years. The Republicans are expected to increase their tally in the 100-Senate seat where they already have a very thin majority.

Before leaving on his campaign trail, Trump exuded confidence that the Republicans is doing good in the elections.

“There is a great electricity in the air. I don’t know if you report it that way, but there’s a great electricity in the air, like we haven’t seen, in my opinion, since the 2016 election,” he said.

At the same time, Trump pointed that the president’s party normally does not do well in the mid-term.

“I think we’re going to do very well in the House. If you look, over a hundred years, for whatever reason, the party with the president doesn’t do very well. I think we’re going to do pretty well,” he said.

Talking to reporters at Fort Wayne in Indiana, Trump said he would have to do things differently if Democrats get the majority in the House.

“We’ll just have to work a little bit differently. It’ll all work out. But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we’re doing very well in the House. I think we’re doing very well in the Senate. There is something going on. I’m just telling you,” he said referring to the large crowd he addressed in Ohio.

At Fort Wayne Trump said that if “the radical Democrats take power, they will take a wrecking ball to our economy and to the future of our country.”

“A vote for Republicans is a vote to continue our extraordinary prosperity,” he said, adding that a vote for Democrats is a vote to bring this economic boom crashing down very rapidly.

“The Democrat agenda will deliver a socialist nightmare. It’s what it is. The Republican agenda is delivering the American dream,” he said.

On the eve of the mid-term elections, Democrats continue to hold a double-digit lead over Republicans in a generic congressional ballot among likely voters, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS.

The party’s 55 per cent to 42 per cent advantage in the new poll mirrors their lead in early October and is about the same as the 10-point edge they held just after Labor Day.

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Lankan MPs seek suspension of state funds allocated to Rajapaksa

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Rajapaksa

The Parliament, which was convened Monday for a third-floor test against Rajapaksa, was adjourned just 10 minutes after its opening.

 

Colombo| Sri Lankan lawmakers have submitted a motion to Parliament seeking the suspension of state funds allocated to disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has lost two no-confidence motions.

The Ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe‘s United National Party Parliamentarian Navin Dissanayake said that six United National Front MPs handed over the motion to be debated in Parliament, the Colombo Gazette reported Monday.

They are of the opinion that state funds of the “illegitimate Prime Minister” should be suspended forthwith, the paper said.

The motion is to be placed in the order paper and debated and a vote taken on the November 29, it added.

The Parliament, which was convened Monday for a third-floor test against Rajapaksa, was adjourned just 10 minutes after its opening.

The public and VIP galleries were shut for diplomats on a request by Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance. The security was also tightened to prevent any incident, officials said.

Sri Lanka is witnessing a political crisis since President Maithripapala Sirisena abruptly sacked prime minister Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Rajapaksa in his place on October 26.

Sirisena later dissolved Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered a snap election. The Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned President Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls on January 5.

Monday’s session was conducted peacefully. The House was adjourned till November 23 ten minutes after its opening.

Last week, Sri Lanka’s parliament witnessed unprecedented violence as lawmakers threw furniture and chilli powder at each other.

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California wildfire death toll rises to 77

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Chico (US) | Authorities say one more set of human remains has been found, bringing the total number killed in a devastating California wildfire to 77. A state incident report released Sunday evening says the flames destroyed more than 10,500 homes.

Over a thousand names remain on a list of those unaccounted for after the so-called Camp Fire swept through the rural town of Paradise on November 8. Authorities stressed that many of those may be safe and unaware they have been reported missing.

Hundreds of volunteers are sifting through ash and debris, searching for human remains before expected rains complicate their efforts. The predicted downpours could wash away telltale fragments of bone, or turn loose, dry ash into a thick paste that would frustrate the search. The fire was 65 percent contained Sunday.

Crews searching for remains of people after the devastating Northern California wildfire are stepping up their efforts ahead of rains forecast for later this week that could complicate their work. A team of 10 volunteers along with a cadaver dog were examining burned houses Sunday in a Paradise neighbourhood looking for victims. They’re focusing on vehicles, bathtubs and mattress springs that would indicate a charred bed. If no remains are found, the team leaves a note in orange spray paint near the home.

Rain would help suppress the fire but could also complicate the search and recovery effort. Officials say ash that is now dry and easy to dust off would turn into paste, making it harder to uncover remains.

The National Park Service says all but one of 13 mountain lions being tracked in Southern California mountains have been accounted for following a devastating wildfire.

As of Friday, the only missing mountain lion was one dubbed P-74, a young male born last year. In addition, all four bobcats that the agency monitors via GPS have been located in the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of Los Angeles.

Officials have again increased the number of homes and other structures burned by a huge Southern California wildfire. The figure rose Sunday to 1,130 buildings destroyed – many of them homes – and 300 damaged. The tally is continuing.

Firefighters are making progress against the blaze that broke out November 8 and tore through communities west of Los Angeles from Thousand Oaks to Malibu. More evacuees have been allowed back in their homes and the 151-square-mile (391-square-kilometer) blaze is now 88 percent contained.

California’s governor is expressing optimism that President Donald Trump will support the state as it deals with raging wildfires. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” airing Sunday that the Republican president has “got our back” and has pledged to continue to help.

Trump initially blamed state officials for poor forest management in exacerbating the fires and threatened to cut off federal funding. He’s since signed an emergency declaration and toured the devastated areas Saturday with Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom. Brown also suggested in the CBS interview that the wildfires will make believers of even the most ardent climate change skeptics “in less than five years” and that those living near forests might need to build underground shelters to protect them from wildfires going forward.

Pope Francis has prayed for victims of California’s wildfires and freezing weather on the US East Coast.

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Pakistan PM Imran Khan visits UAE to seek financial assistance

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Dubai | Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in the UAE on Sunday on a day-long visit to the Gulf country, where he is likely to seek financial assistance to minimise the cash-strapped Pakistan’s dependence on an IMF bailout package.

Khan, who is visiting the UAE for the second time in the last two months, met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi. He is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Finance Minister Asad Umar among other officials, the Express Tribune reported.

“The purpose of the visit is to seek billions of dollars in aid as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) becomes unusually tough on Pakistan on the fiscal and monetary fronts, which is hindering early conclusion of talks,” the paper said. Pakistan wants USD 6 billion financial assistance from the UAE in the shape of cash deposits and oil on deferred payments, it added. The two sides may sign a memorandum of understanding on the financial assistance package, the paper quoted a cabinet minister as saying. Finance Minister Umar, however, denied that there is any link between the IMF conditions and the PM’s UAE visit.

Last month, Khan had a stopover in Dubai on his return from Saudi Arabia in September.  Saudi Arabia had agreed to provide Pakistan with a USD 6 billion rescue package during Khan’s visit to the Gulf Kingdom.

Early this month, Prime Minister Khan visited China, which reportedly agreed to provide USD 6 billion in aid to Pakistan. Khan will visit Malaysia later this week where he is likely to seek monetary assistance. Pakistan was facing a USD 12 billion financing gap for the current fiscal year.

The Pakistan government is keen to minimise the amount borrowed from the IMF by getting loans from “friendly” countries like Saudi Arabia, China and Malaysia as officials in Islamabad believe that the global lender could attach tough conditions.

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