“The Higher The Position…”: Vice President’s Swipe At Ashok Gehlot

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and wife Sudesh Dhankhar in Rajasthan

New Delhi:

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar has some advice for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who has been questioning the Vice President’s frequent visit to the Congress-ruled state where the assembly election will be held soon.

At an election campaign in Rajasthan’s Neemrana, Mr Gehlot had objected to the Vice President’s visit to five districts since the election is near and the visit would “send all kinds of message, which is not good for democracy.”

“Politicians should come, but please do not send the Vice President; it is a constitutional post. We respect the President and the Vice President. Yesterday the Vice President came and visited five districts. It is election season. If you come now it will send all kinds of message which is not good for democracy,” Mr Gehlot told a gathering in Neemrana.

Vice President Dhankhar in an apparent response to Mr Gehlot said those in high positions should use responsible words.

“The higher the position a person holds, the more dignified his conduct should be. Making any comment to gain political advantage is not a good thing. I call upon everyone to be responsible when it comes to constitutional institutions,” the Vice President said.

The Vice President said it is a matter of “contemplation and concern that some people make indecent comments on constitutional institutions, wearing political glasses.”

“They should not do this; such behaviour is against our cultural heritage,” he said. “We must not look at constitutional functionaries with a political prism to score political points. That is not acceptable,” he added.

Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal had also asked Mr Gehlot whether the Vice President needs to take the Chief Minister’s permission for visiting Rajasthan.

“For the Vice President, the Chief Minister said why is he coming now? So the Vice President will come after getting permission from him?” Mr Meghwal told reporters in Jaipur on Thursday.

Mr Gehlot is on an intensive campaign across Rajasthan, touching 18 districts and heading into 38 constituencies. It’s also a part of “Mission 2030” outreach where Mr Gehlot is talking about his vision for Rajasthan till 2030.

Mr Gehlot strategy has a soft Hindutva subtext as he will also visit important temples during this campaign. His schedule shows he will visit at least 10 prominent and local temples during the third leg of this nine-day campaign before the election code kicks in.

Hello Mr. President: Barack Obama Takes Meetings At CAA For Higher Ground Projects – The Dish

EXCLUSIVE: The Republican contenders for his old job were debating up at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley last night, but today Barack Obama was in town seeking more higher ground.

The 44th President of the United States was on the westside of LA Thursday for a sit-down at CAA with the agents for his and former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground production company.

According to a source close to the uber-agency, Obama met with his film, TV, and non-scripted team to discuss projects for Higher Ground. As casual as it can be when the ex-leader of the free world is in the house, the gathering was held in one of CAA’s large conference rooms.

Michelle Obama did not join her husband and business partner today at the meeting. However, Higher Ground president Vinnie Malhotra, plus Joe Paulson, Tanya Davis and other member of the production company’s team were there with President Obama Thursday, I hear.

No details on what the specifics of the discussion at CAA were, but with Higher Ground’s track record of the Oscar-winning American Factory, Oscar-nominated Crip Camp, and the Emmy-winning and Obama-fronted Our Great National Parks, among others, the quality had to be high – pun intended.

Describing the Secret Service presence outside and inside CAA’s Avenue of the Stars HQ as “noticeable,” during Obama’s afternoon visit, one on-looker also said a “lightning bolt went through the floor when we heard he was here.” Certainly, in the constellation of big stars that routinely show up at the Bryan Lourd-run CAA, few shine as bright as the two-term President.

Which, even by Tinseltown standards, can be an event, as one Twilight Zone scribe noted:

CAA did not comment on President Obama’s visit and meetings in their offices today when contacted by Deadline.

Higher Ground signed with CAA for big screen and small screen deal just over a year ago, as Deadline exclusively reported at the time. The agency does not represent either Barack Obama or Michelle Obama individually.

Still, as today’s meeting makes clear, the Obamas are very much personally involved in projects under the Higher Ground banner.

Sam Esmail recently told Vanity Fair that the former POTUS gave notes for on the forthcoming Leave The World Behind, Set to debut  in theaters on November 22, and premiere on Netflix on December 8, the latest film directed by Mr. Robot creator Esmail stars Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke. Produced by Higher Ground, the film is based on the 2020 novel by Rumaan Alam following a couple on a Long Island vacation just before the apocalypse.

“He had a lot [of] notes about the characters and the empathy we would have for them,” Esmail told the mag. “I have to say he is a big movie lover, and he wasn’t just giving notes about things that were from his background. He was giving notes as a fan of the book, and he wanted to see a really good film.”

Higher Ground Productions was launched in May 2018 by the former First Couple. Kicking off with a multi-year deal with Netflix at the time, the company also has had a significant podcast presence over the years with a series from Michelle Obama and the Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen hosted Fatherhood.

 Ex-Showtime exec Malhotra was named as the president of Higher Ground back in April.

FTSE 100 Live: Nationwide house price index, shares seen higher

Recap: Yesterday’s top stories

Good morning. Here’s a summary of our top headlines from yesterday:

  • Dramatic sterling slide continues as US economy data runs hot
  • H&M Autumn ranges sales hit across Europe by September heatwave with revenue down 10%
  • Land Securities says its London office portfolio is now 96.9% let
  • Saga profits halved as motor insurance arm hit by higher claims – but cruise division bounces back
  • Pendragon mulls three takeover offers as first half profits rise 10%
  • Flutter buys Serbian sport betting company for £121 million
  • Shepherd Neame sees big recovery in sales in pubs within M25 – but inflation concerns remain
  • Chapel Down in line for record harvest as first half sales and profits surge

UK mortgage payers making big changes to meet higher payments, survey finds

Mortgage holders are making big changes to their finances – from cutting pension contributions to downsizing – to cope with dramatically higher monthly payments, a new survey shows.

Faced with either the immediate reality of higher mortgage costs or the prospect of a sharp rise in payments once an existing deal has expired, more than 1,000 mortgage holders were asked this month by KPMG whether they had either already taken, or were considering taking, action to deal with this.

About 18% said they had raided their savings in order to reduce what they owed, while 25% said they were considering doing this.

When it came to moving at least part of the mortgage over to interest-only, so the household clears just the interest that accrues on that part, thereby cutting monthly repayments, 16% said they had already done this, and 24% said they were thinking about doing so.

Some people are able to extend the length of their mortgage term, which reduces the monthly payments, and of those polled by KPMG, 12% said they had done this, while 25% were considering such a move.

Others have turned to the more extreme measure of selling up and moving to a cheaper home, with 8% saying they had already done so, while more than one in five (22%) were thinking about it.

Meanwhile, 11% said they had cut their pension contributions, with 20% considering doing this.

The findings were part of KPMG’s latest Consumer Pulse research tracking how more than 3,000 people across ages, income groups and UK regions say they are responding to the cost of living crisis.

Linda Ellett, the firm’s UK head of consumer markets, retail and leisure, said: “Inevitably, increased household budget and savings being used to pay the mortgage, or higher rent costs, will continue to lead to less money being spent elsewhere within the economy by consumers, which will continue to challenge retailers, brands and leisure businesses.”

However, there was a glimmer of good news for homeowners and prospective buyers, with separate data from Moneyfacts showing more fixed-rate mortgages priced at below 5% going on sale this week as the Bank of England looks poised to pause the series of interest rate rises imposed to curb inflation.

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On Wednesday, HSBC launched some deals with five-year fixed rates starting at 4.9%, while on Thursday, NatWest will offer deals from 4.89%.

Meanwhile, the average new five-year fixed-rate residential mortgage is edging closer to falling back below the 6% mark.

Moneyfacts said that across all deposit sizes on the market, the average new deal was priced at 6.03% on Wednesday – edging down from 6.04% on Tuesday.

First-time buyers in UK drop by a fifth as higher mortgage costs bite

The number of first-time buyers in the UK has fallen by more than a fifth, while homes in need of renovation are most in demand as buyers look for cheaper properties, in the latest evidence that people are struggling with higher mortgage costs.

There were 22% fewer first-time buyers between January and August compared with the same period last year, according to the mortgage lender Halifax. They still accounted for more than half (53%) of all home loans agreed in the first eight months of this year, similar to a year earlier (52%).

Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages, said the average age of those buying their first property had risen by two years over the past decade to 32.

A separate report from Rightmove, looking at more than 600,000 available properties on the property website, revealed that “fixer uppers” are the most in demand among buyers, and are 8%, or £29,000, cheaper than the average property up for sale.

On the flip side, those looking for a newly refurbished home are paying a premium of 19%, or almost £70,000.

After renovation projects, homes with new boilers, double glazing, loft conversions and storage space attract the most attention, along with chain-free homes and those with a garden and near stations. For renters, double glazing, smart technology, and being near a station are the top three features that attract the most demand.

The Bank of England raised interest rates 14 times since the end of 2021 to 5.25% – in an attempt top bring high inflation under control – before pausing last week, raising hopes that the peak in borrowing costs has been reached.

As mortgage costs have risen, the south-east, which has the second most expensive average property prices in the UK, had the biggest decline in the number of people buying their first home so far this year, down 25%. It was followed by London and East Anglia, down 24%, Halifax said.

However, strong income growth in recent months means the house price to income ratio for first-time buyers has fallen from 5.8 in June last year to 5.1, meaning prices for those getting on the housing ladder are at their most affordable since June 2020.

The average deposit put down on a first home is now £54,116 – 19% of the property price. This compares with £31,060 in 2013, 21% of the property purchase price then.

First-time buyers in London need to stump up the biggest deposit, an average of £113,078, while those in the north-east are putting down the lowest amount, an average of £29,184.

“Getting the keys to your first home is a significant milestone in anyone’s life,” Kinnaird said. “The expected further fall in house prices this year – alongside stronger income growth – may somewhat offset higher interest rates, which will be welcome news to many.

“Further, there are some areas which continue to be great options for first-time buyers – the average cost of a first property in Scotland, as an example, comes in at £100,000 less than the UK average.” It is £187,215 compared with the UK average of £293,464.

US Sues Amazon For Harming Consumers With Higher Prices

As per the lawsuit, Amazon gave preference to its own products on its platforms over competitors


The US Federal Trade Commission filed a long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.com on Tuesday, charging the online retailer with harming consumers with higher prices. This is the latest US government legal action aimed at breaking Big Tech’s dominance of the internet.

The lawsuit had been expected after years of complaints that Amazon.com and other tech giants abused their dominance of search, social media, and online retailing to become gatekeepers on the most lucrative aspects of the internet.

The lawsuit, which was joined by 17 state attorneys general, follows a four-year investigation and federal lawsuits filed against Alphabet’s Google and Meta Platforms’ Facebook.

“The FTC and its state partners say Amazon’s actions allow it to stop rivals and sellers from lowering prices, degrade quality for shoppers, overcharge sellers, stifle innovation, and prevent rivals from fairly competing against Amazon,” the agency said in a statement.

The FTC said that it was asking the court to issue a permanent injunction ordering Amazon.com to stop its unlawful conduct.

The FTC said that Amazon, founded in 1994 and worth more than $1 trillion, punished sellers that sought to offer prices that were lower than Amazon’s by making it difficult for consumers to find the seller on Amazon’s platform.

Other allegations include that Amazon gave preference to its own products on its platforms over competitors on the platform.

FTC Chair Lina Khan, while a law student, wrote about Amazon.com’s dominance in online retailing for “The Yale Law Journal” and was on the staff of the House committee that wrote a report issued in 2020 that advocated reining in four tech giants: Amazon.com, Apple, Google, and Facebook.

The need to take action against Big Tech has been one of the few ideas that Democrats and Republicans have agreed on. During the Trump administration which ended in 2021, the Justice Department and FTC opened probes into Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.

The Justice Department has sued Google twice – once under Republican Donald Trump regarding its search business and a second time on advertising technology since Democratic President Joe Biden took office. 

The FTC sued Facebook during the Trump administration and Biden’s FTC has pressed forward with the lawsuit.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Property ‘fall throughs’ rise amid higher mortgage interest rates


he number of property sales collapsing rose 10% in the second quarter of the year as buyers faced dramatically higher mortgage costs, according to new figures.

There were 69,940 so-called “fall throughs” in the three months to June according to data from property purchasing specialist, House Buyer Bureau. That was up from 63,446 in the first quarter.

The average cost of a failed sale during the second quarter was estimated at £3,394, making the total cost £237.4 million.

Managing director of House Buyer Bureau Chris Hodgkinson, said: “It was more or less inevitable that fall-throughs were due to climb this year and this increase has come at a considerable cost to the nation’s buyers and sellers at a time when finances are already stretched to breaking point.

“The market may have cooled in terms of transactional volumes, which has led to a reduction in fall throughs on an annual basis when compared to the heights of the pandemic boom.

“However, market conditions are uncertain, to say the least, and many buyers have struggled with the increasing cost of borrowing which has forced them to reassess their position within the market.

“This has been a driving force behind the uptick in sales collapsing during the second quarter of the year and the best way to bypass this property disappointment is to secure a cash buyer as the dangers of a fall through are dramatically reduced.”

Mortgage rates peaked in late July at 15-year highs, with average two-year deals carrying interest rates of close to 7% and typical five-year deals above 6.5%, according to Moneyfacts. But they have fallen back down to earth since, amid hopes that the Bank of England’s interest rate rises may have finally come to an end. Today, HSBC was the latest lended to cut its rates again.

Europe’s worst-hit Covid zones laid bare: Time-lapse map reveals death rates were NINE times higher than normal in parts of Italy during darkest days of pandemic

Europe’s worst-hit Covid zones laid bare: Time-lapse map reveals death rates were NINE times higher than normal in parts of Italy during darkest days of pandemic

FTSE 100 Live: Chinese property shares sink; blue-chips seen higher

Recap: Friday’s top stories

Good morning. Here’s a summary of our top stories from Friday:

  • Retail sales bounce back in August and consumers buy clothes and back to school kit, one day after Bank held rates in sign it thinks inflation licked.
  • September’s London Fashion Week helped boost central London shopper numbers figures suggest, with footfall up by a bumper 17.8% on one of the days when the clothing extravaganza took place.
  • Microsoft’s revised deal with Call of Duty maker Activision has addressed the concerns of the UK competition watchdog, it said today, adding that it “opens the door” to being cleared.
  • Restaurant chain Comptoir Libanais swings to loss as it laments bad weather knock to al fresco dining.
  • Investigation nearly over at Shipbroker Braemar after worries over a $3 million transaction which delayed its accounts and led to a suspension of its shares.

UK recession risk mounts as higher rates weigh on firms

Britain’s economy is at growing risk of recession after industry figures showed the sharpest monthly fall in private sector activity, outside of the Covid pandemic, since the financial crisis.

In a sign that higher interest rates and the cost of living crisis are combining to depress consumer demand, the latest snapshot from S&P Global and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (Cips) showed a steep drop in the UK’s dominant service sector and manufacturing output in September.

Aside from pandemic disruptions to the economy, the latest drop in the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) was the steepest since March 2009.

It comes after the Bank of England halted its most aggressive round of interest rate increases in decades on Thursday amid growing concerns over the economy, holding borrowing costs at 5.25% after 14 previous rises. The central bank had said it was given early sight of the S&P Global/Cips data before its decision.

“This morning’s weak UK PMI business survey explains why the Bank didn’t raise rates yesterday,” said Mike Bell of the US investment firm JP Morgan Asset Management.

“It’s clear from the weak survey data this morning that the effect of the prior interest rate hikes is starting to bite. The weakness in the key service sector, along with the ongoing weakness in manufacturing, was probably what sealed the deal for the Bank.”

Total new work in the private sector fell for the third month in a row, with firms warning that cost of living pressures and higher borrowing costs, alongside cutbacks in the real estate and construction sectors, were weighing on activity.

The UK’s PMI composite output index, conducted by S&P Global and Cips, fell from 48.6 in August to 46.8 in September. A reading above 50 separates growth from contraction.

Chris Williamson, the chief business economist at S&P Global market intelligence, said the reading was consistent with the economy shrinking at a quarterly rate of about 0.4%. Two consecutive quarters of decline are regarded as the technical definition of a recession.

“The disappointing PMI survey results for September mean a recession is looking increasingly likely in the UK,” Williamson said.

“Underscoring the severity of the UK’s deteriorating situation, September’s downturn is the steepest since the height of the global financial crisis in early 2009, barring only the pandemic lockdown months.”

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Separate figures for retail sales in Great Britain showed some recovery in consumer spending in August, after a washout for retailers in one of the wettest Julys on record.

Sales volumes rose by 0.4% on the month after a sharp 1.1% fall in July, the Office for National Statistics said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a slightly stronger rebound to 0.5%.

Sales in food stores drove the recovery, with growth in the volume of sales of 1.2% after a fall of 2.6% in July, when supermarkets reported that wet weather had reduced clothing sales. Non-food store sales volumes grew by 0.6%in August, after a fall of 1.2% in July when poor weather reduced footfall.

“The trend in total retail spending volumes has been broadly sideways,” said Sandra Horsfield of the investment bank Investec.

“The economy is entering more troubled waters and a (relatively mild and short-lived) recession is likely to ensue this winter.”

LA Tenorio returning to basketball with ‘higher purpose’


MANILA, Philippines — LA Tenorio is returning to basketball with “a higher purpose” after being declared cancer-free.

Tenorio on Wednesday announced his much-anticipated on-court return through an emotional social media post about his battle with Stage 3 colon cancer.

“Now, I am returning to basketball. For my love of the game,” wrote the Barangay Ginebra veteran, who is an eight-time PBA champion. “This time with a higher purpose.”

“Not as the old LA, but hopefully with the new and better version of myself. I hope I can help inspire people through the game of basketball – that life, winning battles, winning championships – are all more meaningful not because of the end goal but because of the journey,” he added.

The 39-year-old guard shared his journey from taking a break from basketball in February.

“My journey — from the tests, the surgery, the official diagnosis, to the 12 sessions of chemotherapy — was an experience, I will never forget, it’s the kind that marks us and gives us a different perspective in life,” Tenorio said. “Just like many other cancer patients, there were bad days but all I can be grateful for is God gave me the power to continue my life as a father, provider, son, brother, and friend to everyone around me all throughout the journey.”

Ginebra coach Tim Cone announced during Gilas Pilipinas’ press conference on Tuesday that Tenorio has been cleared to join team practice “within days.”

Tenorio is grateful to all the people, who inspired and prayed for him during his journey.

“Life is short. Let’s live life to the fullest and more meaningful this time around. I can’t wait to touch a basketball once again. This is my story. And I’m ready to enter the next chapter of my life,” he added.

Tenorio will be part of Cone’s coaching staff in Gilas’ Asian Games campaign.

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Gas Prices Have Crept Higher This Summer, a Challenge for the Fed

Your eyes are not deceiving you: Gas prices are rising yet again. On Wednesday, the national average for unleaded gasoline was $3.88 per gallon, according to AAA, the highest level since October.

That’s far below its peak in June 2022, when the average briefly ticked over $5 a gallon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine crimped global oil supplies and sent fuel costs skyrocketing. But it’s still much higher than historical averages, even for summer, when prices tend to rise.

It has been a slow but steady increase. The price of a gallon of gas has risen around 20 percent since the start of the year and more than 8 percent since June 1, according to AAA. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, by comparison, gas prices soared more than 40 percent in less than four months.

High gas prices are a headache for elected officials and consumers, particularly less affluent Americans, and they present a challenge for policymakers at the Federal Reserve, who have sought to rein in rapid inflation over the past 18 months.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s causing the recent spike at the pump and where gas prices could go next.

Gas prices are primarily influenced by the price of oil on commodity markets, which means they can be affected by a variety of factors, including geopolitics, the weather and the mood of financial investors.

Those crude oil prices have jumped in recent months. Since June 1, the American crude benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, has climbed nearly 30 percent.

One reason is that Saudi Arabia and Russia have cut production through the end of 2023. Another is that despite China’s economic downturn, it has continued importing oil at a high rate to mitigate geopolitical risks and shore up its manufacturing and transportation industries, said Clay Seigle, director of global oil services at Rapidan Energy Group.

The unusually hot summer in the Northern Hemisphere also contributed. The heat led to reduced production capacity at refineries, said Aakash Doshi, head of commodities in the North America division at Citi Research.

And the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — which President Biden has tapped to help drive down oil and gas prices — is historically low. The government has delayed restocking the reserve because of high prices and is unlikely to do so until prices fall from where they are now.

In most states, the fall brings with it a switch to a cheaper blend of gasoline containing more butane. Gas prices also tend to drop during the fall as demand retreats after peak driving season.

Global economic growth is also projected to slow in 2024which means there will be less demand for oil, pushing gas prices back down, Mr. Doshi said.

The production cuts from Saudi Arabia and Russia may not continue into the new year, some analysts say, potentially removing another pressure point.

The cuts, which drove prices up by restricting supply, have already been lucrative for the world’s major oil producers, known collectively as OPEC Plus. That means, Mr. Seigle said, that there isn’t much need for the oil producers to extend the cuts for a prolonged period, which could lead to excessive energy price inflation and depressed consumption.

“They should be looking at today’s oil market through the lens of ‘mission accomplished,’” Mr. Seigle said.