Editorial: Trump Jr. mixes family business and U.S. policy in India

Opinion Chronicle Editorial Board Updated 4:36 pm, Tuesday, February 20, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-3', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 3', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Manish Swarup, AP Image 1of/3 CaptionClose Image 1 of 3 Donald Trump Jr. waves to media as he arrives for a meeting in New Delhi, India on Feb. 20, 2018. Donald Trump Jr. waves to media as he arrives for a meeting in New Delhi, India on Feb. 20, 2018. Photo: Manish Swarup, AP Image 2 of 3 Newspapers in New Delhi announce the visit of Donald Trump Jr. Newspapers in New Delhi announce the visit of Donald Trump Jr. Photo: Manish Swarup, AP Image 3 of 3 Editorial: Trump Jr. mixes family business and U.S. policy in India 1 / 3 Back to Gallery If you want to buy access to President Trump, here’s one way: Purchase a condo in one of the Trump empire’s four projects in India and make sure his family knows it. The ethics-averse Trump tribe is once again mixing business with politics on son Donald Jr.’s sales trip to India. He’s meeting with potential buyers of upscale apartments and topping it off with a foreign policy speech at an event attended by the country’s prime minister. A sample ad in national papers: “Trump is here. Are you invited?” Celebrity and glamour are familiar sales tactics, but this instance leaps far beyond that. The name-licensing deals are worth millions of dollars, coloring how the president may think about India. The heavy White House connection isn’t hard to see, ranging from Donald Jr.’s Secret Service detail to the New Delhi Continue Reading

Theatre du Soleil’s “A Room in India” Opens Doors and Windows Onto an Entire World

“The sleep of Reason,” said Goya, “produces monsters.” The sleep of aspiring artists, according to Ariane Mnouchkine, produces — well, everything. At least, that seems to be the premise of the fascinating new piece A Room in India (playing at the Park Avenue Armory through December 20), a collective creation by Paris’s Théâtre du Soleil, of which Mnouchkine is the founder and artistic director. Stretched across the vast expanse of the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the titular room seems, at least at the start, a clean, comfortable, and serenely quiet one. Only faint light trickles through its two rows of large shuttered windows; none comes from the globe-shaped fixtures suspended from its vaulted ceiling. Stage left, a woman lies asleep in a large bed covered with snowy-white sheets.Then a phone rings. Still only half awake, the woman (Hélène Cinque) stumbles across the stage to answer it. She is, we learn, Cornélia, the earnest but semi-clueless assistant to a genius director who bears the ironically grandiose name of Constantine Lear. Cornélia, with the rest of the genius’s troupe, has been sent to a rural Indian town to study what is said to be the oldest extant form of theater, a part of their ongoing investigation of the origins and purpose of their art. But Lear himself is not with them, and his instructions about how to succeed come over Skype, severely garbled. He has been detained in Paris, apparently by a breakdown of some sort. Or is it a short-term commitment? Possibly neither, because a later phone call informs Cornélia that her mentor is in the local jail, under arrest for having climbed nude up a statue of Gandhi. Even more ominous than this potentially explosive international incident is a subsequent phone call informing her that the French government is investigating the company’s finances, since the costly state-funded trip to India has yet to show any Continue Reading

Fascism’s Firm Footprint in India

Gujarat, the only major state in India with a government headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has for some years been the petri dish in which Hindu fascism has been fomenting an elaborate political experiment. In spring 2002, the initial results were put on public display. It began within hours of the Godhra outrage–in which fifty-eight Hindus were killed when a train returning from the disputed site of Ayodhya on February 27 was set alight as it pulled out of a station in Godhra, in Gujarat. Even now, months later, nobody knows who was responsible for the crime. The Forensic Department report clearly says that the fire was started inside the coach. This raises a huge question mark over the theory that the train was set alight by a Muslim mob that had gathered outside the train. However, the then-Home Minister (now elevated to the post of Deputy Prime Minister), L.K. Advani, immediately announced–with no evidence to back his statement–that the attack was a Pakistani plot. On the evening of February 27, Hindu nationalists in the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP, the World Hindu Council) and the Bajrang Dal movement put into motion a meticulously planned pogrom against the Muslim community. Press reports put the number of dead at just over 800. Human rights organizations have said it is closer to 2,000. As many as 100,000 people, driven from their homes, now live in refugee camps. Women were stripped and gang-raped, and parents were bludgeoned to death in front of their children. In Ahmedabad, the former capital of Gujarat and the second-largest industrial city in the state, the tomb of Wali Gujarati, the founder of the modern Urdu poem, was demolished and paved over in the course of a night. The tomb of the musician Ustad Faiyaz Khan was desecrated. Arsonists burned and looted shops, homes, hotels, textile mills, buses and cars. Hundreds of thousands have lost their jobs. Across Gujarat, thousands of people made up the mobs. They were armed Continue Reading

U.S. tourist died in India after falling into rice paddy after mob mistook him for a thief

PANAJI, India - Indian police said Thursday that an American tourist died earlier this week after a mob of villagers mistook him for a thief and chased him until he fell into a swampy rice paddy, where he choked on muddy water. The tourist, identified by his passport as 30-year-old Caitanya Holt, was eventually pulled out of the mud by police using ropes on Tuesday, but he was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital in the western state of Goa, police officer Umesh Gaonkar said. The cause of death has not yet been determined. Police were waiting for U.S. Consulate officials to arrive from Mumbai to carry out an autopsy, Gaonkar said. TOURIST FALLS TO DEATH AS HE POSES FOR SELFIE AT TAJ MAHAL On Wednesday, the Press Trust of India reported that Holt had drowned in a rice paddy, citing the state's highest elected official, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. American officials have asked Indian authorities for details about his death and are in contact with Holt's family in the U.S., said Heidi Hattenbach, a consular information officer. Gaonkar said villagers grew suspicious of Holt, who had arrived in India in July, when he stopped some strangers and went into some homes in a village on the outskirts of the state capital, Panaji. The villagers could not understand his English and apparently mistook him for a thief, he said. A laptop was also recovered from Holt, he said. Continue Reading

Upgrading to an iPhone 5? Apple to accept iPhone 4 and 4S trade-ins for cash at its stores: report

IPhone owners may soon trade up by trading in. Current iPhone 4 or 4S users who are in the market for a newer iPhone 5 will be able to exchange the older models for cash at an Apple retail store, according to a Bloomberg News report, citing sources. Mobile carriers AT&T and T-Mobile have trade-in programs that cover iPhones — AT&T gives up to $200 for a 4 or 4S, the same amount as a basic iPhone 5. But it’s the first time Apple would offer a similar deal out of its retail locations. There are a half-dozen Apple stores in the New York area. The trade-in program, which would start later this month, would be a win-win for the tech titan. It would help boost sales of the iPhone 5, which has been seeing increased competition from Samsung’s line of Galaxy smartphones. The used iPhones would then be resold overseas in emerging markets, where demand for cheaper smartphones is high, and wouldn’t dig into iPhone 5 sales in the U.S. Robert Dominguez Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Consumer Reports calls iPhone 4 ‘flawed’ … and Apple’s got nothing to say about it

After Consumer Reports’ unleashed a stinging critique of the iPhone 4, many expected Apple to respond - but the company is keeping quiet. Consumer Reports, the go-to guide for the latest products, refused to endorse the iPhone 4, claiming that its flawed reception hardware makes it an unwise purchase. Engineers found that simply holding the phone a certain way significantly affected the signal, disproving Apple’s claim that AT&T is to blame. This is the first time an iPhone has not received the magazine’s “recommended” stamp of approval. Since the review’s Monday publication, Apple hasn’t responded to phone calls or emails regarding the matter. While buyers have complained about the iPhone 4’s “death grip” since the phone debuted, Apple’s Steve Jobs curtly responded by telling people they were holding the phone the wrong way. Consumer Reports’ solution for weak signal strength: Buy a $30 “bumper” case that covers the edges or place a nonconductive material, like duct tape, over the area. Some frustrated customers are demanding that Apple offer free cases – or even issue a recall. But Apple isn’t likely to go beyond releasing a software update, according to Brian Marshall, a Gleacher & Co. analyst. Any further step would be like admitting a mistake, he added. "I don't believe for a second that they're shipping what they view as a faulty product," Marshall said. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Smartphone lowdown: Compare the iPhone 4, Evo 4G, BlackBerry 9650 and Droid X

"Anything you can do I can do better" seems to be cell phone providers' mantra these days. With carriers vying for top sales, the smart phone war has reached a fever pitch this summer. Apple's new iPhone 4 caught a good (and nasty) wave of press. Sprint released its Evo 4G back in June and just last Thursday, Verizon delivered the Droid X. See the comparative chart at the bottom for more details. While some profess diehard brand loyalty, other shoppers are looking to change sides. If you're in the market for another phone (or just want to see how yours stacks up) here's a guide to the latest gadgets. When it comes down to it, critics agree that there’s not all that much separating these dynamic, all-in-one devices from each other except for a few personal preferences. Blackberry 9650 (Verizon, Sprint) For the workplace, RIM's BlackBerry 9650 is the phone of choice. It wins points among the business crowd for its no-frills features, QWERTY keyboard and international roaming capability. Unlike the other phones on this list, its SIM card can be unlocked, so customers can make or receive phone calls in more than 185 countries. But the BlackBerry doesn't have nearly the same capabilities as the other three phones – it has a lower resolution camera, less storage space, a shorter battery life and standard quality video recording. But if you're steering clear of app-tastic devices, the BlackBerry 9650 is the most fundamental of these phones. iPhone 4 (AT&T) Then there's the phone that's credited with initiating the smart phone craze, the iPhone. Apple's latest model, the iPhone 4, is plagued with call quality and reception concerns. And yes, the 'death grip' is real, as Consumer Reports' biting critique revealed. But despite this - and the fact that it’s on AT&T - "It's the best media playing phone on the market, a terrific camera phone, and a truly awesome game-playing phone," writes PCmagazine.com’s Sascha Segan. Continue Reading

iPhone 4’s ‘Facetime’ video chat leads to porn-anigans: adult industry sneaks sex talk past Apple

So that's what it's for. The iPhone 4's FaceTime video chat feature is spawning a new industry: iPorn. Drooling over an untapped market, the adult industry is moving fast to line up nude models for steamy sex talk with iPhone customers. "We've been working on it since the iPhone 4 was released," said Quentin Boyer, spokesman for the adult production company, Pink Visual. "We just want to give customers what they want." Apple has long fought to keep iPhones porn-free by blocking users from downloading adult apps. But by using the phone's existing video phone, X-rated entrepreneurs sidestep the company and let the consumer decide. "Users are free to use the phone as they wish," Boyer said. "The phones come equipped with Web browsers, too, and Apple cannot stop people from looking at adult sites." His for-profit enterprise isn't live yet, but it appears that the Apple gizmos are already being used for hanky and panky. "I'm bored, can't sleep and wanna play. I have an iPhone 4 and figured I'd put it to dirty use for FaceTime," a Craigslist user posted recently, looking for a playmate. Apple did not return calls for comment. Customer Brian Stone, 23, shopping at the Apple store on the upper West Side, said there's no reason the computer giant should be blocking sexcapades. "If I want to take care of my needs via an iPhone or with regular online porn, that's my choice," the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, resident said. There are still technological hurdles to be overcome. Adult performers would want their phone numbers masked so they can't be stalked. And it's unclear how payment would be arranged. Boyer said Pink Visual expects to charge around $5 or $6 a minute, probably by credit card. Then there are the physical challenges. "You can have the phone on your face, or other body parts, but not both at the same time," said porn star Teagan Presley. "Most customers want the full package, and it's going to be difficult holding a phone." Continue Reading

Apple unveils iPhone 4 with better screen; Steve Jobs says it’s ‘biggest leap since original iPhone’

Calling all Apple lovers!  The iPhone 4 is also skinny (less than 10 millimeters thick) - a full 2 millimeters thinner than its predecessor, the iPhone 3GS.  Jobs says it is "the thinnest smartphone in the world."Gizmodo dishes on its other features, including an Apple A4 chip - the "brains" of the phone, a longer battery life – allowing users to  talk for 40% longer -- and a built-in gyroscope that can track movement with better precision than the accelerometers in the older iPhones.  The new model uses the iOS 4 operating system and has iMovie for iPhone, which lets you cut video and edit images.The iPhone 4 will also offer tons of new applications, including Farmville and a Netflix app with streaming video.The iPhone 4 goes on sale in the United States on June 24 (preorders start June 15), will cost $199 for a 16-gigabyte version or $299 for a 32-gigabyte version, and will be available in either black or white.The 3GS, the predecessor to the iPhone 4, will now cost $99. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

U.S. home prices in July rose for the third straight month

U.S. home prices in July rose for the third straight month, surpassing forecasts and suggesting that the housing market is stabilizing after a three-year plunge. The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of house prices in 20 metropolitan areas rose 1.6 percent in July from June, more than triple the estimate of a 0.5 percent rise found in a Reuters poll. The index rose 1.4 percent the month before, S&P said on Tuesday. The 10-city index gained 1.7 percent in July after a 1.4 percent rise the previous month. The data relieved investor concerns about the impact of a weak housing market on the economy and U.S. stocks opened higher. The U.S. dollar strengthened against the yen, while U.S. Treasury bonds added to losses after the stronger-than expected reading. "The upshot is that the housing market is starting to clear ever so slightly," said Pierre Ellis, senior economist at Decision Economics. A record stockpile of foreclosed homes have been exerting pressure on home prices overall, but recent home sales reports show an easing up of the massive unsold inventory. "That sustains hope that housing will get to a stable place which is good news for consumer balance sheets and, ultimately, for the economy," Ellis said. A first-time buyer credit of $8,000, which ends on November 30, has jump-started housing activity this year but there are concerns about the impact when this incentive disappears. "These figures continue to support an indication of stabilization in national real estate values, but we do need to be cautious in coming months to assess whether the housing market will weather the expiration of the Federal First-Time Buyer's Tax Credit in November, anticipated higher unemployment rates and a possible increase in foreclosures," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said in a statement. The monthly price increases helped the annual rates, with the yearly pace of declines in home prices slowing to a 12.8 percent drop in the Continue Reading