Herman Cain expected to withdraw from Fed Reserve Board of Governors consideration

Political News Herman Cain expected to withdraw from Fed Reserve Board of Governors consideration https://linewsradio.com/herman-cain-expected-to-withdraw-from-fed-reserve-board-of-governors-consideration/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Herman Cain is expected to withdraw his name from consideration for the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, amid growing pressure from Republican senators on the White House to remove him from consideration, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

President Donald Trump announced last week his intention to nominate Cain, a political ally and former 2012 Republican presidential front runner. Trump has also nominated conservative economist Stephen Moore to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors.

Senators Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have come out in opposition to Cain’s appointment, likely sinking his chances of confirmation by the Senate, since it’s unlikely that he will get the support of Senate democrats.

Since Cain has yet to be formally nominated, he is expected to announce his decision to withdraw his name from consideration in the coming days, according to an administration official and a source familiar with the matter.

ABC News has reached out to Cain for response.

Some Senate Republicans have voiced concerns over Cain’s support for slashing interest rates, echoing a call by Trump. There is also concern that Cain’s background check will resurrect past sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that surfaced during the 2012 presidential campaign. Cain denied the claims.

The former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, who turned the company into a top pizza franchise, is an ardent supporter of the president, launching a pro-Trump super PAC, America Fighting Back PAC in 2018. The PAC’s website says it was founded by “a group of President Trump’s most committed supporters to fight this vile and uncalled for propaganda.”

White House economic council director Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that the president was sticking by his decision to nominate Cain “at the moment.”

When asked by reporters on Wednesday if Cain’s nomination is safe, Trump suggested Cain will decide if he steps aside.

“Well, I like Herman Cain. And Herman will make that determination,” Trump said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

Father, son charged for allegedly selling diseased body parts

YJPTO/iStock(DETROIT) — A father and son have been charged in Michigan for crimes related to allegedly selling diseased body parts through their company, the Biological Resource Center of Illinois (BRCI).

BRCI provides human remains to medical professionals to use in training and research, according to court documents filed last week.

Donald Greene Sr. and Donald Greene II allegedly sold body parts that had tested positive for infectious diseases, including hepatitis, or had not been tested at all, and concealed that information from their customers, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Michigan.

When reached by ABC News, the U.S. Attorney’s office had no comment on the case.

Prosecutors allege the scheme was meant “to defraud customers of the Biological Resource Center of Illinois,” according to court documents.

The Greenes allegedly knew that their clients would not purchase parts that had not been tested for diseases or had tested positive. The scheme allegedly allowed the Greenes to profit off parts that were otherwise worthless, according to federal prosecutors.

Some of the body parts were allegedly sold for as much as $100,000, and were infected with HIV and sepsis, according to ABC TV station WISN-TV.

One mother was allegedly told her son’s body was going to be donated, but it was instead sold for $5,000, according to WISN-TV.

Donald Greene Sr. allegedly falsely told customers on at least eight occasions the parts BRCI was selling had received negative test results, according to authorities.

In 2013, the Greenes allegedly sold remains to the Detroit Medical Center’s sports medicine department that had tested positive for hepatitis, and concealed this information, according to court documents.

Donald Greene Sr. has been charged with wire fraud. Donald Greene II has been charged with misprision of a felony – allegedly having knowledge of the scheme to defraud, not reporting it to law enforcement, and taking steps to conceal the scheme.

Donald Greene Sr. and Donald Greene II could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Feds file new charges against Michael Avenatti

U.S. NEWS Feds file new charges against Michael Avenatti https://linewsradio.com/feds-file-new-charges-against-michael-avenatti/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/national-news/

ABC News(LOS  ANGELES) — Federal prosecutors in California leveled fresh charges against Michael Avenatti on Thursday, marking yet another legal blow for the controversial celebrity attorney known for representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

In a 61-page federal indictment detailing 36 counts, prosecutors with the U.S. attorney’s office in the Central District of California described Avenatti’s alleged decade-long scheme to embezzle and hide millions of dollars from clients. If found guilty, the charges could land him more than 300 years in federal prison.

“The money was used to fuel a lavish lifestyle that had no limits including making mortgage payments on a multi-million dollar home in Laguna Beach,” Acting Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation Ryan Korner said during a press conference Thursday.

Korner said federal agents seized Avenatti’s $5 million private jet this week.

A vocal critic of President Donald Trump whose presence on cable television last year made him a national figure, Avenatti now finds himself buried in legal travails on both coasts.

Prosecutors in the Central District targeted Avenatti with wire and bank fraud charges last month in a scheme that included allegations he stole funds from a client to pay off his own expenses. In New York, Avenatti faces two counts of extortion for his alleged role in what prosecutors called “an old-fashioned shakedown” of Nike.

Charges in the separate cases were announced almost simultaneously and authorities took Avenatti into custody in New York City later that day. He was ordered released on $300,000 bond later that day.

In the new indictment filed Thursday, Avenatti is accused of stealing millions of dollars from clients who had been paid settlements. The money, which was supposed to flow through Avenatti to his clients when the settlements were paid, stayed with Avenatti, according to prosecutors.

“Mr. Avenatti received money on behalf of clients into client trust accounts, misappropriated the money and lied to the clients about receiving the money,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna explained .

One of the clients who was allegedly never paid was Geoffrey Johnson, a paraplegic man on disability. Johnson won a $4 million dollar settlement against Los Angeles County in 2015. Prosecutors say that money was paid to Avenatti but was never given to Johnson.

Avenatti allegedly told Johnson that the money was not yet available and that he was “advancing” Johnson money to pay rent. Yet the entire time, prosecutors say, Avenatti had the $4 million and was using it for personal and business expenses.

“Mr. Johnson is the victim of an appalling fraud perpetrated by the one person who owned him loyalty and honest most of all: his own lawyer,” Johnson’s attorney Josh Robbins writes to ABC News. “His actions have left Mr. Johnson destitute.”

After prosecutors announced plans for Thursday’s press conference, Avenatti tweeted that he remains “confident that justice will be done once ALL of the facts are known.”

Avenatti gained prominence last year when he began representing Daniels in a defamation lawsuit against Trump. A federal judge in California later threw out the suit and ordered Daniels to reimburse Trump for legal fees.

A court appearance is scheduled for April 25 in New York.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

US will have to wait before trying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Political News US will have to wait before trying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange https://linewsradio.com/us-will-have-to-wait-before-trying-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Jack Taylor/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Department of Justice doesn’t have any expectations about when Julian Assange may actually be brought to the U.S. to face the conspiracy charge against him, a Justice official told ABC News on Thursday, given the prospect of British court proceedings and a potentially lengthy extradition fight across the Atlantic.

Though British police said Assange was arrested Thursday “on behalf of the United States authorities,” he was first taken to a local court where he was found guilty of a bail-jumping charge – a crime for which he could serve up to a year in prison there. The sentencing date for that offense has not been set.

Then there’s the impending court battle over extradition that itself could last months or years, according to Amy Jeffress, a former Justice Department attaché to the U.S. Embassy in London.

“The extradition process won’t be quick,” Jeffress told ABC News.

The U.S. and the U.K. are historically very close allies, and Jeffress said the way in which Assange was arrested suggested the British Home Office had approved the U.S. extradition request that would’ve come from the U.S. Embassy in London.

But the extradition process affords Assange ample opportunity for challenging the decision, from the British magistrate courts to various appeals courts to potentially the European Court of Human Rights.

“This is not an automatic win for the U.S.,” Jeffress said.

The fight will also likely be a vocal public relations one, she said, because the Home Office can block extradition requests even if appeals have been lost in court, as was the case of hacker Gary McKinnon. McKinnon in the early 2000s hacked U.S. government computers in search of evidence of UFOs. After a decade-long, very public campaign against extradition, then-Home Secretary Theresa May blocked the U.S. extradition request on humanitarian grounds.

It may be an uphill battle for Assange with regard to the current U.K. Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who tweeted Thursday with regard to Assange, “No one is above the law.”

Still, Jennifer Robinson, Assange’s London-based attorney, set the stage for the battle Thursday, telling reporters outside the bail hearing that Assange would fight extradition.

She said the U.S. charges against Assange set a “dangerous precedent,” and she called on the United Kingdom to “make a full assurance that a journalist will never be extradited to the United States for publishing activity.”

Journalists are generally provided more legal protections related to the publication of classified material, but the U.S. government has sought for years to portray WikiLeaks as something other than a normal media outlet – including then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo in 2017 going so far as to describe WikiLeaks as a “hostile intelligence service.”

The U.S. indictment unsealed Thursday against Assange accuses him of a single count of a “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” related to his purported active role in his interactions with former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning who leaked U.S. government material to Assange in 2010. It’s a narrow charge that former National Security Agency attorney April Doss said seemed designed to avoid thorny First Amendment issues related to journalists.

“The indictment is really clear that it’s an indictment for computer crimes, not for journalism,” Doss told ABC News.

Assange is scheduled to appear via video-link for a May 2 hearing about extradition.

The bail-jumping charge stemmed from 2012 when Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy as he was sought over sexual assault allegations in Sweden. The sexual assault accusations, which Assange denied, were later dropped, but the bail-jumping charge remained.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

Regina Hall wants to go from ‘Little’ to serial killer onscreen

Entertainment News  Regina Hall wants to go from 'Little' to serial killer onscreen https://linewsradio.com/regina-hall-wants-to-go-from-little-to-serial-killer-onscreen/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/entertainment-news/

 

ABC/Paula Lobo(NEW YORK) — Regina Hall is ready to show off her evil side.

In an interview with Essence, Hall, who’ll be seen Friday opposite Marsai Martin and Issa Rae in the new comedy Little, says she’s ready to take on a completely different type of role in her next movie. The Girls Trip star says she’d love to play a serial killer.

“It’s so different from how I am,” Hall told Essence. “I can’t even imagine. So things that I can’t even imagine doing, or being, or feeling would be fun to play.”

According to Hall, her interest in playing serial killers and sociopaths bubbled up after she watched the long-running crime series, Forensic Files.

“It’s amazing how duplicitous they are,” Hall said of killers. “Sociopaths actually mimic behavior. Sometimes they don’t have the feelings and so if they see someone upset they’re like, ‘OK, that’s how you act upset,’ because they may not feel it.”

Hall recently made history when she became the first black woman ever to win the New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Actress award for her role in 2018’s Support the Girls.  She’s played a variety of characters throughout her career, including a stripper with a heart of gold in The Best Man, a powerhouse author in Girls Trip and a tech boss with an attitude in Little.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

Pentagon’s transgender policy for military service to take effect, nearly two years after Trump tweeted about the ban

Political News Pentagon's transgender policy for military service to take effect, nearly two years after Trump tweeted about the ban https://linewsradio.com/pentagons-transgender-policy-for-military-service-to-take-effect-nearly-two-years-after-trump-tweeted-about-the-ban/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Blablo101/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon’s new policy that places limits on the military service of transgender individuals goes into effect on Friday, nearly two years after President Donald Trump tweeted that he wanted to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military.

The new policy largely requires service members and those wishing to join the military to adhere to the standards associated with their biological sex.

Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria, defined as “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender … associated with clinically significant distress and impairment of functioning,” will no longer be allowed medical surgeries for gender transition unless they are currently in the process of receiving medical treatment. And transgender individuals who have received hormones or medical surgery related to their transition are now barred from joining the military, even if they can prove stability in their preferred gender.

The Pentagon asserts that the new policy is not a ban on transgender individuals, saying “all persons will continue to be treated with dignity and respect.”

A string of lawsuits were filed after Trump called for the ban in July 2017. He has not tweeted about the issue since.

 A federal judge lifted the final injunction of the ban last month, allowing the Pentagon to proceed with its implementation of the new policy. In the meantime, four outstanding lawsuits will proceed in courts across the country with the plaintiffs arguing the ban is unconstitutional.

In preparation for the policy to take effect on Friday, a Pentagon spokesperson told ABC News that fact sheets have been provided to military medical providers, service members, applicants, commanders, recruiters and to those in the human resources field.

Transgender service members who were serving in their preferred gender prior to Friday will be grandfathered in under the Obama administration policy, which allowed transgender individuals to serve openly.

“There’s transgender people who have been scrambling to try to hurry up, come out and begin the transition process so that they can be included in this so-called grandfathered group,” said Shannon Minter, one of the lead attorneys for two of the lawsuits filed against the policy. “So that has been a source of enormous stress and anxiety.”

Minter, a transgender man and the Legal Director for NCLR, described transgender service members as in a “state of despair” and fear as the new policy is implemented. He said the military will lose skilled, highly qualified individuals from service because of their gender identity and that the new policy could “encourage bias and discrimination.”

“This is absolutely ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ for transgender people,” Minter told ABC News, referring to the Pentagon’s policy in the 1990s and early 2000s that banned gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in uniform.

In a message to sailors in advance of the new policy, the Navy said people were permitted to “live socially” in their preferred gender while not on duty, as long as they conform to the standards associated with their biological sex while in uniform.

“There is no policy that prohibits the ability of a service member to express themselves off-duty in their preferred gender,” officials said in a recently released Navy administrative message, according to Military.com which obtained the guidance. “Appropriate civilian attire, as outlined in the uniform regulations, will not be determined based on gender.”

Yet the Pentagon has said the policy doesn’t require transgender service members to conceal their gender identity.

“Gender is a fundamental aspect of a person’s identity,” Minter said. “It cannot be turned on and off like a switch, and the very notion of requiring a non-transgender person to do so would immediately be recognized as cruel and unworkable. It is equally cruel and unworkable for transgender people.”

The Pentagon asserts that about 9,000 service members self-identify as transgender.

In a hearing earlier this year, a top defense official told Congress that the Obama administration policy would “degrade military readiness” in the long term. But the four service chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have testified publicly that the presence of transgender service members has had no effect on unit cohesion, discipline or morale — a sentiment echoed by the active duty transgender service members.

Defense officials were asked by reporters last month for the data that shows transgender individuals have a negative effect on military readiness and unit cohesion, but officials conceded that it doesn’t exist because the Pentagon doesn’t track transgender service members. Instead, officials pointed to the panel of experts assembled by former Defense Secretary James Mattis who used their military and professional judgment to make policy recommendations.

The full transgender policy for military service is available here.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

Michigan State student alleges traumatic gang rape by basketball players and the school’s reaction

Sports News Michigan State student alleges traumatic gang rape by basketball players and the school's reaction https://linewsradio.com/michigan-state-student-alleges-traumatic-gang-rape-by-basketball-players-and-the-schools-reaction/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/sports-news/

Rey Del Rio/Getty Images(EAST LANSING, Mich.) — Four years after allegedly being gang-raped at Michigan State University (MSU) and then purportedly being urged by a school official to reconsider taking action because she would be “swimming with some pretty big fish,” a former student who had previously filed a lawsuit against the university came forward to identify herself publicly for the first time this week.

At a press conference on Thursday — Bailey Kowalski, who said she was a freshman in 2015 when she was allegedly gang-raped by three male MSU students — explained that she aimed to set an example for other survivors, whom she said she hopes “can come forward and they can find strength encouragement and a friend. I don’t want others to feel as isolated and distraught as I was.”

“I chose to come to Michigan State University,” Kowalski said at Thursday’s press conference. “I did not choose to be gang raped.”

The allegations are the latest accusations of alleged mishandling of a sexual assault by MSU officials, whose actions were also at the center of the case involving Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

Kowalski’s attorney Karen Truszkowski filed a Title IX federal lawsuit against the school last April, but at the time Kowalski was not identified — and referred to only as “Plaintiff” in the lawsuit. The school has filed a motion to dismiss the case, and that motion is pending. Kowalski and her lawyer have opposed the motion.

A school spokeswoman said in a statement provided to ABC News that “while MSU cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing lawsuit, we applaud the courage of all survivors who come forward to tell their story as we continue to listen and learn from them.”

The statement goes on to “acknowledge it has been a challenge in the past for students, faculty, and staff to find resources” and that the university has “put more attention and resources into improved counseling services [and] created a dedicated office for Prevention, Education and Outreach within the Title IX office, and we are adding a SANE program to help those on campus who have been assaulted.”

The statement, from university spokeswoman Emily Gerkin Guerrant, used a common industry term, SANE, to describe sexual assault nurse practitioners.

The lawsuit says Kowalski met a player on the school’s prestigious basketball team at an off-campus bar, and later was invited to join him and his friends at a party at their off-campus apartment, having been told that her roommate was also attending.

At the apartment, Kowalski alleges, the basketball player and two of his other teammates gang raped her, and “at no time did she consent to the sexual activity.”

Upon returning to her dorm the next morning, she was “distraught, traumatized, and crying,” according to the lawsuit, and confided in her roommate and another friend, who, days later, convinced her to seek help at the school’s counseling center. In the lawsuit, she states that after telling a counselor what happened, the counselor said that a second person was needed in the room, without providing any further explanation.

“Comments were made by MSUCC staff to the effect of ‘we have had many other students in the same situation who have reported, and it has been very traumatic for them,'” the lawsuit states.

“Plaintiff was told by the MSUCC staff that they had seen a lot of these cases with ‘guys with big names’ and the best thing to do is to ‘just get yourself better’ implying to the Plaintiff that it would not be in the Plaintiff’s best interest to report the incident to law enforcement,” the suit states.

“Plaintiff was expressly told by MSUCC staff that ‘if you pursue this, you are going to be swimming with some really big fish,'” the suit states.

While she identified herself in a New York Times article Wednesday, Thursday’s news conference was the first time that Kowalski addressed the media live.

She said that the decision to speak on Thursday is because it “marks the anniversary of my gang rape four years ago.”

“I’ve decided to come out for a few reasons. First, I’m about to graduate in May and throughout most of my college career this has been a heavy burden on me,” she said.

“I am no longer afraid… I have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by,” she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar defends herself: ‘I am as American as everyone else is’

Political News Rep. Ilhan Omar defends herself: 'I am as American as everyone else is' https://linewsradio.com/rep-ilhan-omar-defends-herself-i-am-as-american-as-everyone-else-is/ http://abcnewsradioonline.com/politics-news/

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, in an interview Wednesday, defended herself after backlash over controversial comments she made last month regarding the Sept. 11th attacks.

“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution. I am as American as everyone else is,” Omar said in an interview on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert.

Omar, a freshman in the House of Representatives, has faced criticism over a comment she made at a Council on American-Islamic Relations event last month, stating that the website, the organization was actually established in 1994.

Omar gave the full speech, according to a fact check by the Washington Post, roughly one week after the deadly shooting spree at two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques that left 50 people dead. She sought to urge Muslims to speak up for themselves.

“Many people expect our community to feel like it needs to hide every time something happens,” she said in the speech. “But repeatedly we have shown them that we are not to be bullied, not to be threatened, we are not to be terrorized, we are strong and resilient, and we will always show up to be ourselves because we know we have a right to a dignified existence and a dignified life.”

Abridged versions of Omar’s comments were circulated on social media, and on Thursday the headline on the cover of the New York Post read: “Here’s your something,” across an image of the World Trade Center towers burning.

Another freshman Democrat, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., took to social media to defend Omar.

“I’m not going to quote the NY Post’s horrifying, hateful cover,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a post on Twitter. “Here’s 1 fact: @IlhanMN is a cosponsor of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. She‘s done more for 9/11 families than the GOP who won’t even support healthcare for 1st responders- yet are happy to weaponize her faith.”

Omar, along with a number of other House Democrats, is pushing for legislation introduced this week that aims to repeal the president’s travel ban, against people from predominantly-Muslim countries, an action which was narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The ban applies to citizens from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen as well as Venezuela.

“I have said this before, and let me say it again: I believe this ban will go down in history as a moral stain on our country’s history,” Omar said at an event Wednesday focused on the measure.

Omar, along with a number of other House Democrats, is pushing for legislation introduced this week that aims to repeal the president’s travel ban, against people from predominantly-Muslim countries, an action which was narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The ban applies to citizens from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen as well as Venezuela.

“I have said this before, and let me say it again: I believe this ban will go down in history as a moral stain on our country’s history,” Omar said at an event Wednesday focused on the measure.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

Elections begin in India, the world’s most populous democracy

WORLD NEWS Elections begin in India, the world's most populous democracy  https://linewsradio.com/elections-begin-in-india-the-worlds-most-populous-democracy/  http://abcnewsradioonline.com/world-news/

PeterHermesFurian/iStock(LONDON) — Voters in India headed to the ballot box on Thursday as this year’s elections got underway, in what promises to be a pivotal political moment for a nation that has increasingly sought out more prominence on the world stage.

The eligible electorate is around 900 million people, according to most estimates — the largest of any democracy in the world. Thursday is the first day in a mammoth seven-stage democratic process for the nation of 1.3 billion people, which will conclude when results are announced on May 23.

Indian parliament consists of 545 seats, although two of those are reserved for the Anglo-Indian community and appointed by the prime minister.

In terms of sheer numbers, the Indian general election is a marvel.

Over 600 million people cast their vote at the 2014 general election, according to the Election Commission of India. In that election, 8,251 contenders campaigned for 543 parliamentary seats on behalf of 464 different political parties. Only six of those count as “national parties,” which have candidates in more than one state in the country.

Turnout at this year’s general election will likely be no different, as huge queues lined up on Thursday at the polling areas in the northern Indian states that vote in this round of the election.

In 2019, however, all eyes are on one man — the current prime minister and leader of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, Narendra Modi.

The future of India: secular or Hindu?

Modi’s BJP party was victorious in the 2014 elections, winning 282 seats compared to the opposition Indian National Congress Party’s (INC) 44.

BJP is not expected to perform so well this year.

“Just a couple of years ago, many commentators were certain that the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would enjoy a second term in office. But slow job growth and farmer discontent have taken the shine off the administration,” Elizabeth Chaterjee, a political scientist at Queen Mary University of London, told ABC News. “In December, the BJP lost regional elections in three big states, and suddenly the 2019 race looked open again.”

However, the recent escalation of tensions with Pakistan – a Muslim majority country — may play into Modi’s hands, as he looks to appease his base.

“Coming only a month after a heated standoff with nuclear-armed rival Pakistan, the BJP hopes these patriotic appeals will mobilize its base of Hindu nationalist voters,” Chatterjee said.

Some have argued that politics under Modi has become targeted at the country’s Hindus rather than aiming for the secular vision that the INC championed. This year’s election is as much about who wins as it is about “the meaning of secularism” in India, according Dr. Gareth Price, senior research fellow in the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House, an international affairs think tank in London.

“Pakistan has been seen as a kind of euphemism for Muslims in general,” he told ABC News. “Now there is even less focus on the economy and a revers[ion] to India’s strength and India’s involvement with Pakistan.”

Self-promotion

Prime Minister Modi’s recent attempts to promote his own political image have caused controversy.

He has long-courted Bollywood, India’s movie industry, to talk more about patriotism and Indian culture. But now, he has a movie all to himself.

A big-budget biopic about Modi, “PM Narendra Modi: Story of a Billion People,” charts the politician’s rise from humble tea seller to one of the world’s most powerful leaders, and stars Bollywood actor Vivek Anad Oberoi as Modi, according to Reuters.

The film was scheduled to be released on Thursday, the first day of the general election, but the Indian Electoral Commission intervened, saying it posed a “serious threat” to the integrity of the election, and “may create an impression of truthfulness of content”, according to the BBC.

Courting the vote

Ultimately, however, some believe the performance of the BJP and INC in elections this year will depend on how many votes they secure from the country’s poorer voters.

“In the run-up to the election, India’s two main parties have been competing to promise poor voters increasingly generous benefits, from farmer payouts to basic income schemes,” Chatterjee said. “Most projections now predict that the BJP will remain the single largest party, but will fall short of a clear majority.” She added that such forecasts should be taken with a “pinch of salt.”

This year’s election might also have potentially more impact abroad, as India looks to secure its position as a major international player. But the reality could be more pragmatic.

“India’s priorities are domestic and they are going to remain so for quite some time,” Price said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Posted On 11 Apr 2019

NASA study highlights profound effects of space travel on human body

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty ImagesBY: DR. NAVJOT KAUR SOBTI

(NEW YORK) — NASA released the results of a momentous twin study on Thursday, which found that space travel has profound effects on the human body. The findings could shape NASA’s 2020 mission to Mars — a journey that would take astronauts at least three years.

Astronaut Scott Kelly was separated from his astronaut twin brother Mark Kelly on March 27, 2015. Scott Kelly lived on the International Space Station — while his brother lived on Earth — and returned on March 1, 2016. Three years later, the results of the study, announced from NASA’s Houston headquarters, showed that long-term space missions are likely to cause major changes to astronauts’ metabolisms, genetics and cognitive performance. What’s more, the changes could last months after astronauts return to Earth, if not longer.

Space presents unique stresses to the human body. With lower gravity levels, for example, bones and muscles are more likely to become weak since they no longer have to support the weight of the body. Space flight also affects astronauts’ eyes, causing what’s now called space flight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, characterized by swelling in the optic nerve head, among other symptoms.

Astronauts in space are also exposed to higher levels of radiation without the Earth’s atmosphere there to act as a filter. Dr. Christopher Mason, study investigator and associate professor of physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell School of Medicine, told ABC News that radiation levels “are about eight times higher” on Mars than they are on Earth.

Until this study, the majority of astronaut research had only looked at space missions lasting six months or less. Writing for The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017, Scott Kelly said that by the end of his mission, he had spent a career total of 520 days in space, “more than any other NASA astronaut.”

During a news conference on Thursday, Scott Kelly said he was ready to go back to space again. “Put me in coach,” he said. “I’m ready.”

Since the Kelly brothers are genetically identical, researchers were able to control for genetic differences in their study, so that “the only changes that [we] would see would be because of environmental changes,” senior author Brinda Rana, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine told ABC News.

“The study provided insight into the body’s response to space flight…[and] captured an integrated view on the molecular, behavioral and physiological changes experienced by a middle-aged man on Earth over a two-year period,” Rana said in a press release.

By the end of the mission, Scott Kelly had clear signs of DNA damage, dehydration, and cognitive decline, the researchers found. Many of his telomeres — stretches of DNA that protect our genetic data and have been associated with a person’s lifespan — were also shorter.

“This may represent the way the body compensates to counteract some of the effects of space,” Rana said, noting that the DNA damage was due to the radiation Scott Kelly was exposed to in space.

Several months after his return to Earth, Scott Kelly continued to exhibit these effects of space on his body. Although it’s unclear how permanent these effects are — or if they’re even totally related to his time in space — the study has prompted NASA to dig deeper. As the organization prepares for the mission to Mars, Rana said that “NASA has expanded [this] study to a larger group of astronauts, and is planning to send up another group.”

Navjot Kaur Sobti is an internal medicine physician at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center/Dartmouth School of Medicine and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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