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DNC features few Latinos, a key 2020 voter demographic | US & Canada News



The Democratic National Convention is meant to energise the party’s base, while drawing in undecided voters or the disgruntled members of the Republican party.

But some observers of the 2020 Democratic convention have noticed a surprising absence of Latino speakers in the prime-time schedule. 

While the convention has so far featured some Latino representation, particularly during segments featuring rank-and-file supporters, a cameo by labour icon Dolores Huerta, as well as within a 17-person keynote speech composed of “rising stars” in the party, the four-day convention was initially only set to feature three Latino officials during its nightly two-hour main event.

Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto spoke on Monday, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke on Tuesday, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is set to speak on Wednesday. 

Noticeably absent when the prime-time schedule was unveiled last week was Julian Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama who delivered the keynote speech during the 2012 convention.

Castro, the only Latino candidate in the Democratic primary season, did speak early in the day on Tuesday at a convention council meeting and part of his 2012 speech was aired in a montage during Tuesday’s main event.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was officially nominated to be the party’s candidate [The Associated Press]

But Castro’s absence as a speaker in prime time, and the fact that Ocasio-Cortez was “marginalised” with a 90-second slot introducing Senator Bernie Sanders, does not send the right message to a voting bloc that has become the largest non-white demographic in the US and is considered to have untapped potential for the Democratic party, Cristina Jimenez, the co-founder of United We Dream Action, an immigrant organising group, told Al Jazeera.

Ocasio-Cortez said on Wednesday that she had been asked by the DNC to second the nomination for Sanders as part of the event – and slammed NBC news for tweeting the speech was one of the shortest, and in it she had not endorsed Biden. The organisation issued a correction, but she called it too late – that “it sparked an enormous amount of hatred and vitriol … to generate hate-clicks from a pre-recorded, routine procedural motion”.

In 2020 there will be 32 million Latino eligible voters, making up about 13.3 percent of all eligible voters in the country, according to the Pew Research Center. The demographic, however, has seen lower rates of registration than others. 

Latinos were also overwhelmingly energised behind Sanders in the Democratic primary. In California, 71 percent of Latino voters under the age of 29 voted for Sanders, while just 5 percent voted for Biden.

“I think if I was in the Joe Biden campaign, I would be thinking about how to speak to Latino voters about the issues that they care about that mobilised them in big numbers during the primary, like healthcare, like stopping deportations, like financial security and jobs, and how COVID is impacting this community,” said Jimenez. “And how to leverage the voices and the influence of political figures within the Democratic Party, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, like Julian Castro and many others who can bring a lot of enthusiasm in the community.” 

“(The speaker lineup) is concerning on a strategic level,” she added.  

Strategically significant

In 2016, Latino voters supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump 66 percent to 28 percent and are considered a solid portion of the Democratic base, although generally less so than Black voters, who voted 89 percent for Clinton. 

US primaries: Biden, Sanders battle for the Hispanic vote

In past elections, Latinos, which are the fastest-growing racial minority in the US, have generally been viewed as being concentrated in solidly Democratic and Republican states, making the demographic less significant in Electoral College strategies, said William Frey, senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. 

“I don’t think it’s the case any more,” he told Al Jazeera.

In Arizona, a state considered a battleground in November, he said Latinos will make up about 31.4 percent of eligible voters, a 6.4 percent increase over 2016 and in Florida, Latinos are projected to make up 22.9 percent of eligible voters, up by 3 percentage points from 2016, according to Frey’s analysis of the Current Population Survey from 2016 to 2020.

Latino voters could also make a difference in places like North Carolina and Pennsylvania if the race is close enough, he said.

“I think the party that can capture (Latinos’) attention and their long-term loyalty will have a lot to gain,” Frey said. “There’s no question about that.”

‘We need that fire’

Jeronimo Saldana, a Latino community organiser, said he had faith the Democratic Party was working to include Latinos, but said the convention’s prime-time speakers, and the omission of Castro, has left him feeling “unseen and unheard”.

While he said he was “grateful” to see some representation within the DNC, including host Eva Longoria, he added:  “Folks see the television screen and they don’t see Latinos, they don’t see themselves, they don’t see what Julian (Castro) did as a Latino running for president – that’s important and powerful.

“There has been an assumption that Latinos are going to vote for the Democrats,” he added. “But we need to see ourselves in the party. We need that fire.” 

Castro, for his part, has walked a careful line as the party strives to present a unified front. 

Kamala Harris to speak at Democratic party’s virtual convention

The candidate told MSNBC he was “disappointed” by the lack of Latino speakers in the initial schedule, but later told NPR he felt the party had responded to his diversity concerns. He has in recent days repeatedly praised the Biden/Harris ticket for its Latino outreach. 

However, in an interview with Axios, Castro said the campaign must “make sure that they are doing everything they can to reach out to a community that already has one of the lowest rates of voting, that needs to be brought into the fold”. 

He added that Latinos are generally “invisible” or an “afterthought” in political parties and American society as a whole, while warning that Democrats could see a slide in Latino support “that will benefit the Republicans in the years to come” if the demographic is not made “a robust part of this coalition going forward”.

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Sri Lanka archbishop criticises gov’t over Easter attacks probe | Sri Lanka News




On the second anniversary of the Easter attacks, the head of Sri Lanka’s Catholic church says he was ‘deeply saddened’ by the lack of progress in the investigation.

The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday accused the government of stalling investigations into Easter Sunday bombings two years ago that killed 279 people.

Nearly 200 people were arrested within days of the attacks on hotels and churches, but no one has yet been charged.

Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, who led commemorations on the second anniversary Wednesday, said he was “deeply saddened” by the lack of progress in the investigation.

“We have to stress that what is happening at the moment is an attitude of ‘no care’ where all factors are not properly investigated,” the cardinal said at a commemorative service in Colombo.

Catholic priests and nuns march while holding images of the victims of April 21’s Easter Sunday bomb attack in 2019, next to St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the attacked churches, during the second anniversary, in Katuwapitiya, Sri Lanka, April 21, 2021 [Dinuka Liyanawatte/REUTERS]

Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez, reporting from Negombo, Sri Lanka, said Ranjith accused the government of political posturing and the need to protect alliances had hindered the probe.

“He went as far a few days ago as saying that the bombings had nothing to do with religious extremism, but rather were about politics and people who wanted to ensure essentially grabbing power,” she added.

The cardinal has previously called for former president Maithripala Sirisena to be prosecuted for failing to prevent the attacks despite advance warnings.

An investigation ordered by Sirisena soon after the bombings found that he and his intelligence officials had precise information from India about the attack 17 days earlier, but failed to act.

Sirisena, who did not offer himself for re-election in November 2019 polls, is currently a legislator with the party of his successor Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Although none of the 200 in custody have been indicted, 16 Muslim men among them were charged on Tuesday in connection with desecrating Buddhist statues in December 2018.

The authorities have said that the destruction of the statues in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka was the forerunner to the Easter Sunday attacks four months later.

Anniversary service

Wednesday’s multi-faith remembrance service was held at the St. Anthony’s Church where 56 people died in the attacks, which came 10 years after the end of Sri Lanka’s 37-year Tamil separatist war.

Cardinal Ranjith appealed to the country’s Muslims on Wednesday to join Catholics in determining the truth behind the Easter bombings.

Two local groups that had pledged allegiance to the ISIS [ISIL] group have been blamed for the attacks.

A family member kisses the grave of one victim of April 21’s Easter Sunday bomb attack in 2019, next to St. Sebastian’s Church, one of the attacked churches, during the second anniversary [Dinuka Liyanawatte/REUTERS]

Islamic cleric Hassan Moulana, who also spoke at the service, said Muslims around the world condemn the attacks and that Islam offers no justification for the crime.

He said the Muslim community in Sri Lanka has disowned the attackers and has not allowed their bodies to be buried in its cemeteries to show their acts are not part of Islam.

Last week Sri Lanka banned 11 organisations, including the ISIL (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda.

Anyone linked to the groups – the other nine of which are local religious and social organisations – faces up to 20 years in jail, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a gazette notification.

Muslims, who make up nearly 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people, have faced increased attacks from majority Sinhala Buddhist hardliners following the end of a civil war between Tamil separatists and government forces in 2009.

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Bitcoin: After weekend dip, chart watchers share crypto clues | Banks News




Bitcoin has yet to recover from its unexplained weekend swoon, and now the investing public is on edge about the notoriously volatile token’s next move. Enter the chart watchers.

Noting that “a chart is a chart is a chart,” Tallbacken Capital Advisors’s Michael Purves sent a note Wednesday with a technical analysis of the coin’s trading patterns. Bitcoin’s recent highs weren’t confirmed by its relative strength index, among other things, and its upward momentum is fading, he said.

“From purely a technical perspective, the bullish case looks highly challenged here in the near term,” after its recent rally, wrote Purves, chief executive officer at the firm.

It’s another sign that Bitcoin has become too big for Wall Street to ignore. With more firms allowing customers to dabble in the asset and more institutional money tied to its performance, no wonder chart watchers are capitulating and now lending their expertise to the growing batch of analysis.

Earlier, JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s analysts also chimed in with their take. The last few times Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou witnessed such negative price action in Bitcoin, buyers returned in time to prevent deeper slumps. This time, the strategist is worried.

If the largest cryptocurrency isn’t able to break back above $60,000 soon, momentum signals will collapse, strategists led by Panigirtzoglou wrote in a note Tuesday. It’s likely traders including Commodity Trading Advisers (CTAs) and crypto funds were at least partly behind the buildup of long Bitcoin futures in recent weeks, as well as the unwind in past days, they said.

“Over the past few days Bitcoin futures markets experienced a steep liquidation in a similar fashion to the middle of last February, middle of last January or the end of last November,” the strategists said. “Momentum signals will naturally decay from here for several months, given their still elevated level.”

In those three previous instances, the overall flow impulse was strong enough to allow Bitcoin to quickly break out above the key thresholds, yielding further buildups in position by momentum traders, JPMorgan noted.

“Whether we see a repeat of those previous episodes in the current conjuncture remains to be seen,” the strategists said. The likelihood it will happen again seems lower because momentum decay seems more advanced and thus more difficult to reverse, they added. Flows into Bitcoin funds also appear weak, they said.

Bitcoin rose as high as $64,870 around the time of the Nasdaq listing of Coinbase Global Inc., but has retreated back to $55,000. The cryptocurrency is still up about 90% year-to-date.

The coin, down five of the last six sessions, is struggling to overtake its 50-day moving average around $56,819. For many chartists, that’s a bearish indicator since it tends to determine price momentum trends. Should Bitcoin be unable to breach its short-term trend line, it could move lower and test the $50,000 level, about a 10% decline from where it’s currently trading. The next area of support would be its 100-day moving average around $49,212. That would signify a 11% retreat from Wednesday’s trading levels.

Tallbacken’s Purves, who says the coin’s 2017 breakout and subsequent decline is a useful case study, also points Bitcoin’s daily MACD signal — or the moving average convergence divergence gauge — which has turned bearish in the intermediate-term. And its performance is still correlated to Cathie Wood’s uber-popular ARK Innovation ETF.

“Trading Bitcoin on the bullish side right now does not appear to have favorable risk-reward and if you have made profits, it seems like a good time to go to the sidelines for now,” Purves wrote.

To be sure, he said, it’s difficult to conclude how much further it could decline. Key to the issue will be how strongly institutional buyers step in. “While upside momentum is clearly looking challenged here, it is inconclusive how much downside risk remains,” he wrote in a note. “It is entirely possible that Bitcoin could simply consolidate in a range for some time.”

Bitcoin fell as much as 4.3% Wednesday to $54,341 before recouping some losses. Smaller and alternative coins that had run up in recent days also suffered declines Wednesday, with Dogecoin — the poster-child for crypto risk-taking — declining roughly 15% to trade around 31 cents. That’s down from a high of 42 cents the day prior, according to

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Pakistan: Several killed in explosion at Quetta hotel | Pakistan News




Blast in parking area of Serena Hotel also wounded nine people, with some in critical condition, police say.

At least three people have been killed and nine others wounded in a powerful explosion in the parking area of an upscale hotel in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, according to authorities.

Police said rescuers were transporting the victims of Wednesday’s blast at Serena Hotel to nearby hospitals. Footage on local news channels showed cars in flames.

Security forces rushed to the hotel and no one was allowed to approach the site of the explosion. Police said they had opened an investigation.

“Our officers are working to determine whether it was a bomb and what type of device it could be,” police official Nasir Malik told Reuters news agency.

According to senior police official Azhar Akram, some of the wounded were listed in critical condition. They were brought to Quetta’s main hospital.

No other information was immediately available.

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