• Politics
    Reuters

    Trump says stock markets will crash if he loses election

    U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday the U.S. stock market will crash if he loses the election this year. Trump also said that Monday's steep fall in share prices was bad because of fears of the coronavirus, but the United States was in good shape in terms of tackling the problem.

  • World
    Bloomberg

    Iran Battles to Contain Panic After Virus Deaths Multiply

    (Bloomberg) -- Flights were grounded, schools shuttered and religious shrines disinfected, but as Iran struggles to contain the spread of coronavirus there’s panic, disarray and questions over who to believe.Within hours of announcing the first confirmed cases last Wednesday, the authorities said that two people had died from the disease. That was two days before elections brought millions of people into public buildings—including hospitals—to cast votes just as the contagion escalated. Office workers in Tehran are now being told to work from home.The threat of a pandemic after the virus also spread in Italy and South Korea sent financial markets tumbling on Monday. Iran, the Middle East’s most populous country after Egypt, has disclosed 95 cases and 15 deaths, making it the epicenter for the region. The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq have all reported their own cases linked to Iran.“The infection is not as scary as the chaos and panic in reaction to it,” said Ahmadreza, 35, a financial analyst in Tehran. He declined to be identified by his full name because of the sensitivity of speaking with foreign media in Iran. “People are swarming the hospitals to get checked for the virus, even if they don’t have the symptoms. They’re stockpiling food and staples and stores are selling masks at ten times the price.”It’s just the latest disaster to hit Iran, though the potential consequences look just as great as with the country’s protracted standoff with the U.S.With its oil sales pummeled by American sanctions, the lifeblood of the economy has been exports of non-oil products around the region. They are also now about to be devastated by disruption to sea ports to the north and south and at long land borders with Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The head of Tehran’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry asked the government to set-up quarantine facilities on the country’s borders to halt the spread of the virus.“In Iran, with such a diverse and massive geography it is proving very difficult to contain and the country has never experienced something like that,” Cyrus Razzaghi, president of Ara Enterprise, a business consultancy in Tehran, said by telephone from the Iranian capital. “I’ve never seen anything like this, there’s a lot that’s unknown.”Faith in the ability of the authorities to tackle the outbreak—and clearly update the nation on what’s going on—is low after a series of incidents in recent months. In November, a sudden, unannounced increase in gasoline prices led to protests across the country. Last month, the government was forced to admit the military had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane packed with Iranians after a series of denials.The sense of anger was evident at the weekend, with mass disqualifications of reformist and moderate candidates helping hardliners make huge gains in last Friday’s election, a victory enabled by a record low turnout.“The plane crash incident was the last straw,” said Nastaran, 41, a mother of one and housewife in Tehran. “It showed their hand. They don't know anything about management, let alone crisis management. They have no management and no clear strategy for dealing with the spread of the virus.”Officials have tried to calm people after cases of coronavirus worldwide jumped to almost 80,000 with more than 2,600 deaths, mainly in China. In language echoing his response to public anger over the plane disaster, government spokesman Ali Rabiei urged people not to politicize the outbreak.Officials announced on Jan. 31 that air routes to China had been closed because of coronavirus, yet the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Iran’s Mahan Air still flew nine flights following the announcement.According to IRNA, these were flights sending “humanitarian aid” to China to help with the virus, including some 3 million face masks. A spokesman for Mahan Air has denied that the airline was the source of Iran’s outbreak, the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency reported on Monday.With at least 34 cases, the city of Qom, about 150 kilometers south of Tehran is emerging as the country’s coronavirus hotspot. The health minister went on national television to advise people against going to holy places and shrines, especially the Fatima Masumeh shrine in Qom, a major pilgrimage site in the holy city.On Monday morning, a lawmaker from Qom said up to 50 people were dead, a number swiftly denied by the health ministry and other officials. That didn’t stop other parliamentarians from disinfecting his chair in the chamber. The head of Qom’s University of Medical Sciences has tested positive for the virus, Health Ministry spokesman Iraj Harirchi said.Indeed, several of the cases that have been reported in the region, appear related to pilgrimage or from travel from religious sites in Iran. The Kuwait infections were linked to people returning from Mashhad, Iran’s holiest city. Iraq’s only case so far was found in the city of Najaf, a holy city with a large Iranian population and a major pilgrimage destination for millions of Iranians every year.At the Golpayegani Hospital near the center of the city, a nurse described the situation as very serious. She declined to be identified by name because she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly amid heightened anxiety over what might come.The hospital is not given official tallies of confirmed infections or deaths; that information is held and made public by the city’s chief medical officer and coroner’s office, she said. The first time the hospital was aware of any confirmed cases in the city was four days ago, according to the nurse.“People are trusting social media more than official channels because of the way they try to control the narrative in everything, from the plane crash to elections and now the coronavirus,” said Ahmadreza in Tehran.To contact the authors of this story: Golnar Motevalli in Dubai at gmotevalli@bloomberg.netArsalan Shahla in Dubai at ashahla@bloomberg.netYasna Haghdoost in Beirut at yhaghdoost@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Rodney Jefferson at r.jefferson@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Politics
    The Fiscal Times

    Sanders Bristles When Asked on ’60 Minutes’ About the Cost of His Proposals

    In an interview with “60 Minutes,” Sen. Bernie Sanders didn’t want to get into any details when pressed about the price tag for his ambitious agenda. He said his Medicare-for-All plan would cost about $30 trillion over 10 years, which would, he argues, cost “substantially less than letting the current system go.” Asked about a total price tag for his entire agenda — which includes free public college, cancellation of all student debt and a Green New Deal to tackle climate change — Sanders said he doesn’t have a total cost figure:Anderson Cooper: But you say you don't know what the total price is, but you know how it's gonna be paid for. How do you know it's gonna be paid for if you don't know how much the price is?Bernie Sanders: Well, I can't-- you know, I can't rattle off to you ever nickel and every dime. But we have accounted for-- you-- you talked about Medicare for All. We have options out there that will pay for it.Later, after Cooper asked Sanders about how he’ll pay for a new universal childcare and pre-K proposal, the Democratic frontrunner pushed back on the premise of the question:“It's taxes on billionaires. You know? You know, I get a little bit tired of hearing my opponents saying—‘Gee, how you going to pay for a program that impacts and helps children or working-class families or middle-class families? How you going to pay for that?’ And yet, where are people saying, ‘How are you going to pay for over $750 billion on military spending?’ How you going to pay for a trillion dollars in tax breaks to the 1% in large corporations, which was what Trump did? When you help the billionaires and you help Wall Street, ‘Hey! Of course we can pay for it. That's what America's supposed to be about.’ Well, I disagree.”Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter.

  • Politics
    The Daily Beast

    Donald, Melania, Ivanka, and Jared Visited the Taj Mahal. Their Poses Spoke Volumes.

    Melania Trump stood in front of the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a symbol of devotion to his wife, Mumtaz, and watched her open-mouthed husband bellow to photographers.Her high-necked, ivory jumpsuit matched the exterior of the famed marble mausoleum (CNN’s Kate Bennett identified the one piece as made by Trump’s stylist, Hervé Pierre). It came with a moss green sash made of “vintage Indian textile” that slightly clashed with her husband’s canary yellow tie. Still, the First Lady—known for looking absolutely miserable when out with her husband—appeared happy, or at least flashed a few more step-and-repeat smiles than normal. One tabloid described the pair as “loved-up,” which is as big of a stretch as the notion that burger-loving Trump enjoyed his meatless Monday in India. Still, the Trumps were able to hold hands for a while, and they stood close while watching a flock of birds fly away, like two characters from a gothic poem. Trump Taj Mahal Slashed Security. Then the Murders Started.Ivanka, too, arrived with Jared Kushner in tow, though she kicked her husband out of her own picture. In a poppy-patterned turquoise dress, which matched the reflection pool she stood in front of, Ivanka mugged with her vacant-eyed but determined smile.If you have any doubts about any future political aspirations for this “presidential adviser,” then (take a deep breath and) look at her Taj Mahal photo op. Despite all those "Unwanted Ivanka" detractors, just like the building itself, she endures. In Ivanka’s words, such resilience is “awe inspiring.” Others might call her seemingly ceaseless, free vacations (thinly) disguised as diplomacy, a horror scenario. The Taj Mahal was completed after ten years of construction in 1653, outlasting threats from the Japanese Air Force in World War II and Pakistan’s bomber pilots in the late '60s. But the historic site, frequently referenced as a Wonder of the World, has succumbed to one thing: the rich and powerful using it as a backdrop to make coded statements to the world. The tradition began in earnest with the 1992 image of Princess Diana on a marble bench, her body a lithe strip in a cherry red blazer, nearly dwarfed compared to the gargantuan building behind her. She went to the site alone, without her husband Prince Charles, implying a fissure in their not-so-storybook romance. But Diana was not the first celebrity photo op at the Taj Mahal. In 1962, Jackie Kennedy took a solo trip to India and Pakistan, at a time when First Ladies did not often dabble in foreign diplomacy. For her pilgrimage to the spot, she wore a preppy blue and green sheath, projecting the Camelot-era’s sunny confidence. Four years later, George Harrison snapped a selfie in front of the site, looking very anti-Kennedy in his counterculture duds: an unbuttoned cotton shirt and dark sunglasses. Since then, plenty of other young and famous men have come to the mausoleum in search of themselves, or at least a performative version of it.In 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the Taj Mahal was an example of “what people can build—and what love can motivate us to build,” using the elegant language of a good copywriter to plug his company after paying respects. That same year, Leonardo DiCaprio visited too, while in the country working on a climate change documentary. It was a “secret trip;” DiCaprio asked tourists not to take pictures, because he was working. In 1995, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton also sat on one of the Taj Mahal’s benches for photographers, sitting close and smiling, visual code for girl power. Five years after that, the first daughter would return with her father, Bill. In wide-angle snapshots of Donald and Melania strolling in front of the Taj Mahal, the yuge building’s scope leaves the pair looking tiny, nearly as tall as the shrubs which line the monument’s grassy aisles. Trump, who’s got a thing for screaming about his own bigness, might not appreciate how tiny he looks. But for a man who views the presidency as just another prize to show off that he’s won, the Taj Mahal visit was a success. The man whose legacy was once a knockoff-named casino now has got his photo in front of the real thing, joining the star-studded ranks of those who came before him. And as we’ve seen from this optics-obsessed administration so many times before, the facade is all that matters.  Samantha Bee Explains How Ivanka Trump Made Her Grow UpRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • U.S.
    Associated Press

    New Virginia sentencing law ends high court's DC sniper case

    Lee Boyd Malvo, the Washington, D.C., area sniper, and Virginia agreed Monday to dismiss a pending Supreme Court case after the state changed criminal sentencing law for juveniles. Under the new law, signed by Gov. Ralph Northam earlier in the day, people serving life terms for crimes they committed before they turned 18 can be considered for parole after serving at least 20 years. The two sides agreed that Malvo's life term would remain in effect, though he will have a chance at parole early in 2024.