Washington: Democrats are mulling impeachment proceedings against US president Donald Trump after reports surfaced that he had asked new president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy to probe his political rival and Democratic presidential nomination frontrunner Joe Biden and his son.
This followed the reports that Trump made a phone call to Ukrainian president pressurizing him to investigate the dealings of Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
“Extorting a foreign leader for the purposes of getting that leader to do your political work, to try to find dirt on your opponent, is extortion. It is using the assets of the United States of America and the public trust for your own corrupt … ends, certainly political ends. I can’t tell you that the House will move into impeachment mode right away, but this really ups the ante”, Jim Himes of Connecticut, a member of the House panel, told CNN on Monday.
At the weekend, Biden, among the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination, accused Trump of making a baseless political smear, in an “overwhelming abuse of power”.
Campaigning in Iowa on Saturday, Biden said “Trump deserves to be investigated” for “trying to intimidate a foreign leader, if that’s what happened”. Biden said Trump was motivated by politics, “because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum”.
The Republican Utah senator Mitt Romney, a longtime Trump critic, said it was “critical for the facts to come out”. “If the president asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney [former New York mayor Rudy Giuiliani, who has admitted pressuring Ukraine], it would be troubling in the extreme. Critical for the facts to come out,” Romney said.
Even the South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, a fierce defender of Trump, said details of the call should be released. “I’m hoping the president can share, in an appropriate way, information to deal with the drama around the phone call,” Graham said. “I think it would be good for the country if we could deal with it.”
The details of the call are the subject of an intelligence community whistleblower complaint about the president’s behaviour. Against legal precedent, the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details with lawmakers, citing presidential privilege. In what is swiftly becoming one of the most challenging moments of Trump’s presidency, Maguire is due to testify before the House intelligence committee on Thursday
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the committee that will oversee Thursday’s hearing, said on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union: “We may very well have crossed the Rubicon here.”
Hunter Biden was hired by the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings in April 2014, two months after Ukraine’s Russia-friendly president was ousted by protesters.
Joe Biden was heavily involved in US efforts to support the new pro-western government and its pledge to fight corruption. The hiring of the younger Biden raised concerns that the Ukrainian company, whose owner was an ally of the ousted president, was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration.
Two years later, Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to fire its prosecutor general, who was accused by many in Ukraine and in the west of being soft on corruption.
Trump has claimed that the prosecutor, who had led an investigation into Burisma’s owner, “was after” Hunter Biden and the vice-president, was trying to protect his son. There is no evidence for this.
Trump has insisted he said “absolutely nothing wrong” in the call to Zelenskiy. He did not answer directly when asked whether he would release a transcript. Trump and Zelenskiy plan to meet at the UN general assembly in New York this week.
Trump called the intelligence community whistleblower “partisan” before acknowledging he did not know the identity of the official who lodged the complaint.
The complaint was based on a series of events including the 25 July call between Trump and Zelenskiy, the Associated Press reported, citing intelligence officials.
Leaving the White House on Sunday for Texas, Ohio and then New York and the United Nations, Trump told reporters the call, on 25 July, with Volodymyr Zelenskiy was both “congratulatory” and focused on corruption in the eastern European nation.
Trump said he raised Biden as an example. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
Regardless, Trump said: “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice-President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
Trump’s apparent admission added to pressure on Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings. Even some Republicans urged the president to make public the details of his call with Zelenskiy. Trump hinted at such a move.
Northern Army Commander visits Siachen
Srinagar, Oct 20:Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Sunday visited forward posts in Siachen Glacier. He was accompanied by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury Corps’.
“Complementing the troops deployed in the Sector for their dedication and perseverance, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the nation is proud of the valour and sacrifices of the ‘Siachen Warriors’,” an army spokesperson said.
“He exhorted them to continue to uphold the high standards of professionalism and commitment, even while deployed in the face of extreme challenges posed by the highest battlefield in the world. He also laid a wreath at the Siachen War Memorial, as a mark of respect for the martyrs of Operation MEGHDOOT,” he added.
Lieutenant General Singh later visited ‘Heritage Abode’ – the residence of one of the greatest heroes of Ladakh, Late Colonel Chhewang Rinchen at Sumur Village in Nubra Valley.
Colonel Chhewang Rinchen was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra twice and a Sena Medal, for his acts of valour during the various battles fought in the Ladakh Sector. Paying his respects, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that Colonel Chhewang Rinchen will continue to inspire future generations of Indians.
No merger on cards, J&K Bank has strong fundamentals:Chhibber
Srinagar, Oct 20: Putting all the speculations about the J&K Bank’s merger at rest, J&K Bank Chairman and Managing Director R K Chhibber today stated, “The recent crisis of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank in the country has worried bank customers in general but the rumors of J&K bank’s merger by some vested interests has raised apprehensions among our depositors particularly in J&K. Let me put all those speculations at rest by assuring you that no merger is on the cards and the bank’s fundamentals are very strong.”
In a press statement, he further said, “Let me assure all the stakeholders of the bank that their beloved bank is in safe hands of more than 12000 strong J&K Bank family under the supervision and guidance of a professionally strong board of directors with a robust accountability framework in place for transparency and efficiency. The only way to go for the bank is up and above, towards higher levels of accomplishments.”
Commenting upon the effect of recent political developments in J&k upon the bank, he said, “We certainly believe that the recent developments that have taken place in state won’t affect the essence of this institution, which is to financially serve the people of J&K and catalyze the economic development of this region.J&K Bank has witnessed far bigger challenges in the past, and we believe, as always with the emotional equity of the people, support of J&K Government and unmatched commitment of our staff, we shall meet every challenge head-on and come out stronger and more successful.”
While reiterating that J&K Bank has strong fundamentals with all its major financial indicators performing well, the Chairman also asserted that few of the large loans, made some years ago that have turned Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and are being investigated; have been adequately provided for by the bank and shall have no impact on the profitability of the bank.
“Let me assure you that we are here to be with you and lead you towards a more promising and fulfilling economic future”, he said.
Reflecting upon the long and eventful journey of the bank, the Chairman said, “It has been a long, eventful and challenging journey of over eighty years that has shaped up not only this great institution but the very structure and the substance of J&K’s economy. For all this, we acknowledge and admit the instrumental role of our shareholders and customers whose unwavering trust and cooperation has been the guiding light for us during eight decades of our existence.”
Expressing his gratitude for the bank’s main stakeholders, Chairman said, “In particular we appreciate the unflinching support of our main stakeholders i.e.the J&K Government, the Board of Directors, and employees at large. J&K Government has always come forward to support the bank in all spheres and have already raised their stake to 59 pc in the bank by providing capital of Rs 532 Crfor business growth and regulatory requirement. Thegovernment has also indicated to extend additional capital support in near future to meet our Basel III capital requirements.”
Notably, thevery reason for the establishment of Jammu & Kashmir Bank by its founders in 1938 has been to empower the people of the state financially so that an era of development could be ushered in.Today we see that vision transformed into reality as J&K Bankleads from the front with market share of more than 65 pc, more than 12 million account holders from two million households and a total business around 1.65 lac Cr.
Market Intervention Scheme: Govt procures 1.5L apple boxes, disburses Rs 8 cr
Srinagar, Oct 19: Jammu and Kashmir government has procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes and paid around Rs 8 crore to growers under the ambitious Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) so far.
Launched last month in association with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), MIS was aimed at easing difficulties of the apple growers in the valley.
Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, said around 4000 growers have been registered under the scheme so far.
“We have procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes, which roughly comes to 2000 metric tonnes of fruit. We did business of around Rs 10 crore and almost Rs 8 crore have been disbursed to apple growers so far,” Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.
Director Horticulture noted that there has been a good response since October 7, when government revised the rates of apples.
“As per government order, the payment has to be disbursed within three days after procurement of apple. Sometimes it may take five days. We will continue this scheme till December 15. It can be extended if need arises. This scheme is working in a hassle free manner and apple growers are benefitting,” he said.
The initial rates for A grade apple were Rs 52 per kilo, Rs 36 for B grade and Rs 15.75 for C grade apple. The revised rates for A grade apple are Rs 58 per kilo, Rs 42 for B grade and Rs 22 for C grade apple.
Bhat said six lakh metric tonnes of apple have been exported so far. This includes 2000 metric tonnes exported under market intervention scheme.
“Kashmir grows around 21 lakh metric tonnes of apple and over 25 percent has been exported so far. Most of the growers have exported apples on their own without benefitting from the scheme,” he said.
Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in the following months. Apple is almost the last crop that hits the market in autumn. Bulk of the apples is exported to the markets in Delhi. Some of the crop is also sold in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and other cities.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. The horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation. Last year the fruit production including dry fruits touched 23.30 lakh tonnes last year compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.
Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.