Latest News USA

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, US lawmakers condemn acts of hate against Asian Americans

Washington, DC: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and several US lawmakers have said that they are appalled by the ongoing acts of hate against Asian Americans and condemned hate, racial discrimination and violence in all forms.

More than 3,000 incidents of abuse against Asian Americans were reported between March and December 2020, according to Asian American advocacy groups. There were only 216 reported cases in 2019, according to FBI statistics.

“I am appalled by the ongoing acts of hate against Asian Americans and the Asian community globally. Racism, hate and violence have no place in our society. I am united with the Asian and Asian American community in standing against this injustice,” Nadella said in a tweet, a day after US President Joe Biden said that the ”vicious” hate crimes against Asian Americans in the country amidst the pandemic was ”un-American” and it must stop.

Denouncing “violent” attacks on the Asian Americans, Biden in his first prime-time address to the nation since assuming office in January, said that members of the community were harassed, blamed and scapegoated.

In a statement, Microsoft said that it condemns hate, racial discrimination, and violence in all forms.

Meanwhile, prominent lawmakers have joined hands to introduce a legislation to address the rise of hate crimes and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congressman Donald M. Payne, expressed concern over an increase in racist attacks against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“I want to condemn the abuse and assault that has happened to Asian Americans during his pandemic in the strongest words possible,” Payne said.

“Hate and violence have no place in America at all. These attacks must stop because they are cowardly attempts to scapegoat and blame Americans for a pandemic that started thousands of miles away. Thankfully, we have a president who supports diversity and will protect all Americans in his language and his actions. It is time for us to come together as a country and that includes all Americans,” he said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein said that over the past few weeks, nominees for the top three leadership positions at the Justice Department have appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as has the director of the FBI.

“At each hearing the topic of hate crimes came up, in large part due to steep increases in attacks against Asian Americans,” she said.

“The increase appears to be based on a fabricated connection between the Asian-American community and the COVID pandemic, a conspiracy theory with no basis in fact that is pure racism. We must rebut the conspiracy theory itself and also directly confront the rise in hate crimes,” Feinstein said.

Senator Alex Padilla, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Senator Mazie Hirono and Congressmen Grace Meng in introducing legislation to address the rise of hate crimes and violence against AAPI communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am disturbed by the recent increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California and across the country,” Padilla said.

“It is clear that this uptick in violence against Asian Americans is the direct result of the racist rhetoric used by political leaders with regard to the pandemic and we must take action to address it. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will direct law enforcement to better collaborate across jurisdictions and expedite the response to COVID-19 related hate crimes, and will work to mitigate racially discriminatory language used to describe the pandemic,” he said.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would direct the US Attorney General to designate an official whose sole responsibility will be to expedite review of COVID-19 hate crimes from federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The legislation also directs the Attorney General to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies on appropriate public education campaigns and the collection of data on COVID-19 hate crimes.

The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, is absolutely horrific, said Congresswoman Meng. “Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against Asian Americans,” she said. (PTI)

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Latest News USA

Indian American Anil Soni appointed first CEO of The WHO Foundation

New York:  Indian-origin global health expert Anil Soni has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer of the newly launched The WHO Foundation, which works alongside the World Health Organization to address most pressing health challenges across the world.

Soni will assume his role as The WHO Foundation’s inaugural Chief Executive Officer on January 1 next year. In his new role, Soni will accelerate the Foundation’s “work to invest in innovative, evidence-based initiatives that support WHO in delivering on its mission to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all,” the Foundation said in a press statement on Monday.

The WHO Foundation, an independent grant-making agency headquartered in Geneva, was launched in May 2020 to work alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health community to address the world’s most pressing global health challenges.

Soni joins the Foundation from Viatris, a global healthcare company, where he served as Head of Global Infectious Diseases.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described Soni as a “proven innovator” in global health who has spent two decades in service of communities affected by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

“He earned my trust when he and his team at the Clinton Health Access Initiative worked side-by-side with the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia to expand access to treatment and strengthen the management of our health centers,” Ghebreyesus said, adding that Soni has a “unique” set of skills that spans the public and private sectors, and his leadership of the Foundation will provide invaluable support to the mission of the WHO and the billions of people who depend on it.

Founder and Chairman of the Board of the WHO Foundation Professor Thomas Zeltner said Soni is a “dynamic leader” with deep experience across all aspects of global public health.

“From his work at Viatris where he has led the development and introduction of medicines to treat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, to his leadership of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and his time at the Global Fund (to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria), he has demonstrated his ability to work across public, private, and nonprofit sectors and build successful new organizations from the ground up,” Zeltner said.

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Latest News USA

Former US envoy to India Richard Verma joins Mastercard As Executive Vice President

Former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma has joined leading financial services company Mastercard as its executive vice-president for global public policy and regulatory affairs.

In this capacity, Richard Verma will oversee the company’s public policy, regulatory affairs and litigation teams around the world, Mastercard said in a statement.

Verma joins Mastercard from capital advisory firm The Asia Group, where he served as vice-chair and partner. He was US Ambassador to India from 2014 to 2017.

In addition, Verma was the Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, where he led the department’s efforts on Capitol Hill, and was the former National Security Advisor to the Senate Majority Leader for many years.

Rich (Verma) is a proven leader with extensive experience in public policy, geopolitics, trade and international law, said Ajay Banga, Chief Executive Officer, Mastercard.

“In his role as US Ambassador to India, Rich oversaw one of the largest US diplomatic missions in the world and took integral steps to deepen bilateral ties,” Banga said.

With his expertise and strong relationships worldwide, Rich will be a key counselor to industry leaders and governments on the global move to a digital economy. We look forward to working closely with Rich to build on our strong foundation, Mastercard said in its statement.

Richard Verma is a veteran of the US Air Force, and a recipient of multiple awards and decorations, including the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award.

He is currently a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and he serves on several boards and commissions, including the National Endowment for Democracy and Lehigh University.

He holds degrees from Georgetown University (Ph.D.), the Georgetown University Law Center (LLM), the American University’s Washington College of Law (JD), and Lehigh University (BS).

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New York

Panera Bread’s CEO Niren Chaudhary suggests innovative approach to opening up

New York: As the US starts opening up after two months of lockdown amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, the Indian American CEO of a leading restaurant chain has suggested an innovative approach.

“I believe that the health crisis is now becoming a financial crisis,” said Niren Chaudhary, President/CEO of Panera Bread during President Donald Trump’s roundtable with restaurant executives and industry leaders at the White House Monday.

“Opening up the economy right now in a phased manner is the right thing to do,” he said, with 36 million Americans unemployed and about 54 million Americans fighting hunger,

Panera with 2,500 cafes, employing 140,000 people and with revenues of about $6 billion, is slowly coming back after losing close to 50 percent of its revenue in the first week thanks to some innovative ideas, Chaudhary said.

For its furloughed employees, Panera has free family meals every week, emergency relief funds, and arrangements with peer companies like CVS, and Walmart to hire them temporarily, and then return them back.

For customers, Panera innovated very quickly, Chaudhary said. “We’ve launched the curbside pickup service with geofencing, and also free Wi-Fi outside the cafes because life is moving to outside the cafes.”

It was also doing a lot for the communities, especially those impacted most by the pandemic, he said. Panera was serving about 50,000 meals to doctors and nurses in New York and children in Ohio in partnership with the US Agricultural Department.

“We’ve launched a program called ‘Together Without Hunger with Feeding America,” Chaudhary said, “and have pledged to serve half a million meals to children and families through Feeding America.”

President Trump, in turn, told the restaurant executives that the Paycheck Protection Program has delivered over $30 billion in aid to more than 250,000 restaurants. Up to 95 percent of that funding is going directly to the worker’s payroll, he said.

On Friday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) published the loan forgiveness application, which ensures that all businesses, including restaurants, will not be penalized as long as they make good-faith efforts to rehire all of their employees, Trump said.

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