Kamala Harris’ Wikipedia controversy, a PAC for Trump, and Carnegie’s ‘Great Immigrants’

Senator Kamala Harris gives a thumbs down as she speaks during the 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

NEW YORK – A month ago, California Sen. Kamala Harris, the only black woman serving in the U.S. Senate, was well poised to be Democratic Presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate, thrust into the spotlight amid the nationwide protests over racism and police brutality.

The day after Biden flew to Houston and met with the family of George Floyd, the African-American man whose death in Minneapolis police custody spurred the civil unrest, the 55-year-old Harris chaired an online fundraiser that netted Biden $3.5 million, reported Reuters.

Harris’ stock with the Biden camp is still high, but a controversy that erupted last week over some extensive edits on her Wikipedia page could be fodder for the rival Republican camp, to try besmirch the Democratic campaign, if she indeed is the chosen one.

The trend, which forced Wikipedia to put Harris’ page under ‘discretionary sanctions’, was first reported by The Intercept. According to the revision history of the Harris article on Wikipedia, there have been 500 revisions to the page since May 9, most of which have been made by one highly prolific editor.

Fox News reported that editor first started significantly changing the article in April, making additions that led another editor to say on the Kamala Harris “talk” page, “[y]ou seem to have gone through a database of press releases from Harris’s office, cataloging every single one and adding it to the article. That is not how we write encyclopedic articles.”

That user also removed information that was critical of Harris, with some other editors on the “talk” page objecting to changes regarding Harris’ relationship with former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown that were allegedly made “without adequate justification.” Users also objected to changes related to Harris’ record as an aggressive prosecutor, with one editor making a change on July 2 — after The Intercept published its story — saying they were “restoring more scrubbed well-sourced content. Just because it may be ‘unflattering’ doesn’t mean it needs to be censored.”

The information added in that edit included a line on how Harris “appealed a judge’s order to take over the prosecution of a high-profile mass murder case and to eject all 250 prosecutors from the Orange County District Attorney’s office over allegations of misconduct by Republican D.A. Tony Rackauckas.”

As The Intercept reported, that section was removed by the prolific editor on June 11, who said he was “proofreading for length.”

Ahead of their announcements as vice-presidential candidates, Sarah Palin in 2008 and Tim Kaine in 2016 each saw significant increases in their Wikipedia edits, the Intercept pointed out, reported Fox News.

The New York Post, while reporting the same story, noted that Harris is among the top contenders for the coveted vice presidential slot, alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former national security adviser Susan Rice, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Rep. Val Demings of Florida.


Harris, Warren and Rice all passed the initial round of scrutiny by Biden’s VP search committee within recent weeks and were recently asked to turn over documents like financial disclosures and past writings.


While Harris’ VP fortunes remain undecided, a new Political Action Committee named ‘Indian-Americans for Trump’ has been established, spearheaded by an Indian American-origin business professor, based in New Jersey.

The PAC is led by Dr. Amar Dev Amar, a Business Professor at Seton Hall University, as its President, businessman Anura Rupasinghe of Metuchen and Pravesh Chaturvedi of Bloomsbury as its Vice Presidents. Mayor Vic Sordillo of Warren Township is becoming the PAC Advisor.

“The Indian-Americans for Trump strongly believes that under the prevailing domestic and international conditions, Donald Trump is the best hope for America to bring back domestic prosperity for all Americans and play a leading role in establishing the global peace,” the PAC stated.

Indian-Americans for Trump also urged Trump to promote the wearing of mask as a safeguard against spreading Covid-19.

“The PAC for Trump believes that this will make its task of promoting Trump for his reelection much easier and will not put them on the defensive when canvassing. It requested the president to ‘assertively promote the wearing of masks in public by all Americans as a way to protect others in their proximity and to curb the spread of COVID-19’”, it stated.

Amar was, in fact, one of the three academics to endorse Trump for president early in 2016, much before the 2016 primaries, and had served as the founding President of Indian-Americans for Trump 2016.

Amar, a tenured Professor of Management for knowledge, operations and strategy at the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University, received the 2013 Carolyn Dexter Finalist Award of the Academy of Management for his work on the effects of meditation on emotional intelligence and leadership of CEOs. He was also the 2013 Stillman Star of the Stillman School of Business and awarded the 2010 NJBIA Bright Idea Award in Management by NJPRO Foundation of New Jersey Business and Industry Association for his publication on leading without authority in the context of knowledge organizations in the Harvard Business Review.


Two renowned Indian American personalities, Pulitzer Prize–winning author and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, who is associate professor of medicine and a practicing physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, and Harvard economist Raj Chetty – both of whom were born in New Delhi, are among the list of 38 naturalized US citizens on Carnegie Corporation’s 2020 list of ‘Great Immigrants’ for their role in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mukherjee, a Padma Shri recipient, was honored for using “his communication skills to educate the public and build awareness about covid-19 through forums and his widely read essays.”

Chetty was lauded for launching “a real-time data tracker to measure the economic impact of the pandemic and assisted decision-makers as they implemented new public policies.”

The New York-based Carnegie Corp. has since 2006 celebrated “Great Immigrants, Great Americans” on July 4th.

Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” was awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. In 2015, Ken Burns turned it into a documentary titled “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”

Chetty, one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard’s history, received his PhD at the age of 23. He has been named one of the top economists in the world by the New York Times and the Economist magazine. He was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship in 2012.

“Millions of brave Americans responded with selflessness and urgency to covid-19, including immigrants, who represent one out of six nurses and one out of four physicians,” said Carnegie President Vartan Gregorian, announcing the list. “Their contributions to health care, biomedicine, the nation’s food system, and many other critically important sectors are immeasurable,” he added.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)



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