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With White House in their sights, Democrats challenge Wall Street

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WASHINGTON: On the campaign trail and in Congress, Democrats are challenging the titans of Wall Street, proclaiming a “new day” as they seek to channel the anger of their party and voters that has raged since the financial crisis.

CEOs of America’s biggest banks were summoned for the first time since the 2008 crisis by a congressional committee on Wednesday, raising their hands as they swore their oaths ahead of their testimony.

It was a powerful image that underscored the recent change in control of the House of Representatives, which came under Democratic control in January after eight years of Republican rule.

“This is a new way and it’s a new day,” said Maxine Waters, the first woman and first African American to chair the powerful House Financial Services Committee.

Tim Sloan, the former CEO of Wells Fargo, testified at a previous hearing in March.

This time, it was the turn of the heads of Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, State Street Corporation, BNY Mellon and Goldman Sachs.

Waters had previously tangled with some of them at the peak of the crisis, when the global financial system was imperiled.

The current round of cross-examinations has less to do with the stabilization of the financial system and more the social impact of Wall Street.

“You, captains of the universe, are smart enough and creative enough and understand this business enough to see what you can do about these citizens, these young people,” said Waters.

Some of the Democrats on the committee have focused on spotlighting the gap between these executives, all male, white and fabulously wealthy, and the rest of society — a tactic criticized by the panel’s ranking Republican as headline-seeking.

In one probing exchange, Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat of New York, pressed Citigroup Chief Executive Michael Corbat to justify his 2018 pay of $24.2 million, an estimated 486 times that of the average employee.

Corbat said his pay was set by the board of directors and that, if he were an average employee who observed the yawning gap, “I would be hopeful that there’s the opportunity to continue to advance.”

“This is why people who live in a bubble and in an ivory tower cannot understand the anger out there, especially among millennials,” Velasquez shot back.

 

 

 

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Trumps says Congress ‘can’t impeach’ him

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Trump administration escalates legal battle against Obamacare

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Monday that Congress “can’t impeach” him over the findings of the Mueller report into Russian election meddling and his alleged attempts to hamper the investigation.

Defiantly insisting that he did nothing wrong, Trump also denied a portrait of dysfunction in the White House where disobedient aides are said to have saved him from committing obstruction of justice by refusing to carry out his instructions.

Asked by reporters at a White House Easter egg event for children whether the prospect of impeachment worries him, Trump replied: “Not even a little bit.”

“Only high crimes and misdemeanors can lead to impeachment. There were no crimes by me (No Collusion, No Obstruction), so you can’t impeach,” Trump stated earlier on Twitter.

However, Democrats believe the Mueller report has revealed serious wrongdoing by the president and have yet to decide on impeachment.

The report confirmed that Russian operatives had attempted to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump beat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, including by hacking into email accounts.

The report also found that Trump’s campaign took advantage of the impact on Clinton, but did not deliberately reach out to collude with the Russians.

During the probe, Trump repeatedly tried to hamper Mueller’s work, the report said.

But Mueller did not rule one way or the other on whether Trump had committed the crime of obstruction of justice, effectively leaving Congress to take up the matter or not.

Democrats, who control the lower house, are so far mostly holding off from calling for impeachment proceedings, which would be immensely divisive ahead of 2020 presidential elections.

 

 

 

 

 

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Half of Americans back stronger role of religion in society

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NEW YORK: Around half of Americans favor religion playing a greater role in US society, while 18 percent oppose that idea, according to a Pew Research Center study published Monday.

Despite there being a separation of church and state, religion plays a significant part in daily US life: the president traditionally is sworn in using a Bible, while “In God We Trust” is printed on bank notes.

France, Sweden and the Netherlands, meanwhile, posted almost opposite results: 47 percent, 51 percent and 45 percent respectively were opposed to religion playing a key role in society.

Among the 27 countries surveyed in 2018, France (20 percent) and Japan (15 percent) were the countries with the lowest proportion of citizens favoring strengthening religion’s role in society.

Indonesia (85 percent), Kenya (74 percent) and Tunisia (69 percent) came out as the countries most in favor of a bigger place for religion.

The study did not make a distinction between different religions.

In the US, the proportion rose to 61 percent among people aged 50 and over, but dropped to 39 percent among 18 to 29-year-old.

The study was carried out with a representative sample of at least 1,000 people in each country.

 

 

 

 

 

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50% Americans support role of religion in society

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NEW YORK: Around half of Americans favor religion playing a greater role in US society, while 18 percent oppose that idea, according to a Pew Research Center study published Monday.

Despite there being a separation of church and state, religion plays a significant part in daily US life: the president traditionally is sworn in using a Bible, while “In God, We Trust” is printed on banknotes. France, Sweden, and the Netherlands, meanwhile, posted almost opposite results: 47 percent, 51 percent, and 45 percent respectively were opposed to religion playing a key role in society.

Among the 27 countries surveyed in 2018, France (20 percent) and Japan (15 percent) were the countries with the lowest proportion of citizens favoring strengthening religion’s role in society. Indonesia (85 percent), Kenya (74 percent) and Tunisia (69 percent) came out as the countries most in favor of a bigger place for religion.

The study did not make a distinction between different religions. In the US, the proportion rose to 61 percent among people aged 50 and over but dropped to 39 percent among 18 to 29-year-olds. The study was carried out with a representative sample of at least 1,000 people in each country.

 

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