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Five Indian American Members of Congress feted at Indiaspora Gala

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Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal, Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera at the Indiaspora Gala 2017 in Washington DC.

Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal, Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera at the Indiaspora Gala 2017 in Washington DC.

(L-R) Congressmembers Pramila Jayapal, Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ami Bera at the Indiaspora Gala 2017 in Washington DC.

WASHINGTON, DC (Diya TV) — Were it not for Donald Trump’s stunning win in November, the political story of Election 2016 could arguably be the ascent of the Indian-American community, who surprisingly now have five members in the United States Congress.

Kamala Harris of California, long rumored as a potential Presidential candidate, is now the first-ever Indian-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Chicago-area businessman endorsed by President Barack Obama, won a House seat in his second try.

Seattle’s Pramila Jayapal, a disciple of Bernie Sanders, became the first Indian-American woman to serve in the House after capturing Washington’s 7th district.

Silicon Valley’s Ro Khanna, in his second attempt in California’s 17th district (and third overall), upset eight term Congressman Mike Honda.

Despite a campaign fundraising scandal involving his father, Dr. Ami Bera secured his third term in California’s 7th district south of Sacramento.

In addition, Tulsi Gabbard, the nation’s first Hindu in Congress, overwhelmingly won her third term representing Hawaii’s 2nd district.

All of them are Democrats and all were honored at the Indiaspora Gala, an Indian-American centered inaugural ball.

“Our legacy is nothing that we’re going to do. Our legacy is built on what the next-generation does,” said Rep. Bera before the crowd of 500 that came to the Marriott Marquis in Washington, DC.

It was the second time M.R. Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, organized a gala of this nature. Four years ago, it was pegged around President Obama’s reelection. But given the historic nature of this election to the Indian-American community, the date was moved up to coincide with Congress’ swearing-in date.

“We’re 1% of the population and we’re finally 1% of Congress itself,” said Rangaswami.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal added “that we, Indian Americans, have a presence and have power in this country that matches now politically everything else that we do.”

The bipartisan gala brought scores of members of Congress to attend, including many heavily involved in the US-India relationship like Republican Senator from Alaska, Dan Sullivan.

“It’s an incredible community in terms of the rising political influence, but also in terms of what the Indian-American community is doing throughout the country,” said Sullivan.

Houston Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee believes this new crop of colleagues will “make a real mark on the United States Congress primarily because they bring to this nation a recognition that we are a nation of many. And out of many, comes one. And comes unity.”

Former Democratic Vice Presidential hopeful and current Virginia Senator Tim Kaine once oversaw the US-India relationship as the chair of the subcommittee in foreign relations. He appointed a number of Indian-Americans to cabinet posts when he served as governor of Virginia and believes strongly despite the upcoming change in administrations, “the ties are so natural” that the bond between the US and India will continue to grow.

It’s a viewpoint shared by Democratic member of Congress Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who told Diya TV, “when people come from India to the United States, with their entrepreneurship, with their family values, with their commitment to community, they make America, more American.”

“No matter which way the political winds blow,” said Rep. Gabbard, “the commitment is there on behalf of the leaders of this country to strengthen the US-India friendship.”

Other dignitaries in attendance included United States Assistant Secretary of Commerce Arun Kumar, potential U.S. Ambassador to India in the Trump administration, Ashley J. Tellis, DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Sri Srinivasan, New York Democratic Congressmembers Joe Crowley and Carolyn Maloney, Indiana Republican Congressman Todd Rokita, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Nisha Desai Biswal, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Navtej Sarna, Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress and Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014.

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All four ex-Minneapolis cops charged in Floyd’s death

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Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (Diya TV)  — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the three other Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s death, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, will face aiding and abetting murder charges. Former officer Derek Chauvin, the man who put his knee on Floyd’s neck, will now face a second-degree murder charge, elevated from third-degree. Meanwhile, protests are not only continuing around the U.S. for the ninth day, but they are spreading overseas in places like the U.K. and Australia as well.

Protesters desecrated Mahatma Gandhi’s statue outside the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. The United States Park Police have launched an investigation.

Instagram & Facebook admitted the keyword #Sikh was blocked for nearly two months starting March 7th following an inaccurate report by their team. Scores of users discovered the block this week when writing posts in connection with the anniversary of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots after the assasination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

A criminal investigation is underway in South India after a pregnant elephant died in India apparently after eating some fruit containing a firecracker that exploded in her mouth.

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Nationwide protests continue on ‘Blackout Tuesday’

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Protests

MINNEAPOLIS (Diya TV)  — America is now in its eighth day of protests over the death of George Floyd. To date, only one officer of the four involved is facing criminal charges. So thousands in cities around the nation continue protests to seek justice for Floyd. President Trump vowed to use the military if violence and looting isn’t stopped, with tear gas being deployed on peaceful protesters outside the White House. Meanwhile, celebrities and brands are taking to social media to show support for the Black community by blacking out images on their profiles.

President Trump invited India, Russia, South Korea and Australia to attend the G-7 summit, an offer accepted by Prime Minister Modi. The summit will take place in September in the U.S. and will entertain a host of issues, including whether China will be isolated for their role in the coronavirus pandemic, a tactic right now has lukewarm support.

Indian officials rejected President Trump’s claim that he spoke to Prime Minister Modi over the growing India-China border dispute. The officials say the conversation never took place and both China and India have made it clear they will arbitrate their own disputes.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Two autopsies classify Floyd’s death as homicide

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Two autopsies classify Floyd’s death as homicide | Diya TV News

MINNEAPOLIS (Diya TV)  — An independent medical examiner hired by George Floyd’s family, as well as Hennepin County’s Medical Examiner classified his death as a homicide, saying his heart stopped after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin used his knee to suppress Floyd for nearly nine minutes despite Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe. The independent examiner also added “asphyxiation from sustained pressure was the cause” of the death.

With the nation reeling from Floyd’s death, hundreds of thousands of people in 41 states held rallies asking for change. But as night fell, peaceful protests morphed into chaos, as looters came onto the scene, destroying property and stealing goods, while confronting police. Some historians say it was the largest riots seen in the U.S. since Martin Luther King’s assasination in 1968.

Many businesses were destroyed around the nation from these riots, including a Bangladeshi restaurant in Minneapolis called Gandhi Mahal. But owner Ruhel Islam is receiving widespread support after his daughter quoted him on Facebook saying “let my building burn. Justice needs to be served.” Now an online fundraiser has raised more than $65,000 to help them rebuild.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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