• On Iran strategy, Donald Trump replaces Barack Obama’s mirage with containment
    World
    USA TODAY Opinion

    On Iran strategy, Donald Trump replaces Barack Obama’s mirage with containment

    Containment does not seek war with Iran but will not shrink if provoked. Nor does it seek regime change, writes Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute.

  • Al Jazeera suspends two journalists over Holocaust report
    World
    AFP

    Al Jazeera suspends two journalists over Holocaust report

    Qatari state-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera suspended two journalists on Sunday over a video they produced claiming the extent of the Holocaust was being misrepresented by Jews. The clip, posted by Al Jazeera's online AJ+ Arabic service, claimed "the narrative" that the Nazis killed six million Jews was "adopted by the Zionist movement". The video said that "along with others, the Jews faced a policy of systematic persecution which culminated in the Final Solution".

  • 2020 election poll: Joe Biden's lead shrinks to zero against Bernie Sanders in critical Iowa
    Politics
    The Independent

    2020 election poll: Joe Biden's lead shrinks to zero against Bernie Sanders in critical Iowa

    Joe Biden may be leading national polls among Democratic voters, but a new poll shows his dominance doesn’t necessarily extend to Iowa.Mr Biden is matched by Bernie Sanders in the state, a sharp drop from his 11 point lead in a separate poll last month. Both candidates can claim 24 per cent support in the state, which will vote first in the nominating process next year.Mr Biden and Mr Sanders are followed in the new poll by several candidates with significant showings, including Pete Buttigieg (14 per cent), Elizabeth Warren (12 per cent), and Kamala Harris (10 per cent).Reading into the polls just a bit more, Mr Biden has more to worry about than just Mr Sanders, too.Ms Warren stands out as the most liked candidate in the race, with a favourability rating at 78 per cent — the top in the race. She is followed by Mr Sanders, who is the next closest with 71 per cent.“Good news for Elizabeth Warren: her favourability exceeds that of any other candidate in the race and her name recognition is near universal,” said principal pollster Jane Loria in a news release.She continued: “In some states, we see a large spread between the front-runners and the so-called second-tier in the excitement barometer, but in Iowa the candidates are all pretty tightly clustered. When we ask respondents to identify the five candidates they’re most excited about, 54% say Warren, followed by Biden (53%), then Harris (53%), Sanders (49%), and Buttigieg (46%)The terrain looks much better for Mr Biden when looking at the other states that follow close after Iowa, however. In New Hampshire, Mr Biden beats Mr Sanders 36 per cent to 18 per cent. In South Carolina, meanwhile, Mr Biden recently got 46 per cent support compared to Mr Sanders’ 15 per cent.But, any fragility in Iowa could have real consequences for Mr Biden’s third presidential race. The state has an outsized influence on the presidential nominating process, and a loss there would show potentially significant vulnerabilities for the former vice president.The Iowa Starting Line/Change Research Poll was released on Monday, and the Iowa caucuses will be held in January.

  • Attorney General William Barr responds to claims that he lied to Congress
    Politics
    FOX News Videos

    Attorney General William Barr responds to claims that he lied to Congress

    California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes says that Attorney General William Barr and House Republicans will not be swayed by these false claims.

  • Modi’s jobs deficit: J&J’s largest India plant idle three years after completion
    Business
    Reuters

    Modi’s jobs deficit: J&J’s largest India plant idle three years after completion

    It was to eventually employ at least 1,500 people and help bring development to a rural area near Hyderabad in southern India. Two sources familiar with J&J's operations in India and one state government official told Reuters production at the plant, at Penjerla in Telangana state, never began because of a slowing in the growth in demand for the products. One of them said that demand didn’t rise as expected because of two shock policy moves by Prime Minister Narendra Modi: a late 2016 ban on then circulating high-value currency notes, and the nationwide introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) in 2017.

  • U.S. eases restrictions on Huawei; founder says U.S. underestimates Chinese firm
    Business
    Reuters

    U.S. eases restrictions on Huawei; founder says U.S. underestimates Chinese firm

    The U.S. Commerce Department will allow Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to purchase American-made goods in order to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets. The U.S. government said it imposed the restrictions because of Huawei's involvement in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests. The new authorization is intended to give telecommunications operators that rely on Huawei equipment time to make other arrangements, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement on Monday.

  • World
    Associated Press

    11 people killed in reported gun attack at bar in Brazil

    RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A gang of gunmen reportedly attacked a bar in the capital of Brazil's northern Pará state Sunday afternoon, and authorities said 11 people were killed.

  • Donald Trump: 'If Iran wants to fight, that will be the end of Iran'
    Politics
    The Telegraph

    Donald Trump: 'If Iran wants to fight, that will be the end of Iran'

    The US is "afraid" of war with Iran, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said as tensions between Tehran and Washington intensified over the weekend. Major General Hossein Salami told the Iranian state news agency, IRNA, that the country does not want war. "The difference between us and them is that they are afraid of war and don't have the will for it," he said. His remarks came against a backdrop of increased volatility in the region, with the US sending an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf to counter an unspecified threat from Iran. Major General Salami's comments were dismissed by the US president on Twitter. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!" Mr Trump tweeted. The US Federal Aviation Administration has urged commercial aircraft to exercise caution when flying over the Persian Gulf, warning they ran the risk of being "misidentified". How Iran has stoked tensions in Gulf A similar misunderstanding in 1988 led to an American warship bringing down an Iran Air flight, killing all 290 people on board. Iraq, meanwhile, has condemned as "political" a decision by US energy giant ExxonMobil to evacuate staff from a southern oil field after Washington ordered personnel to quit its Baghdad embassy. Saudi Arabia responded to the escalating crisis by calling for a Gulf summit,  adding that while the country did not want war it would defend itself if hostilities erupted. "The kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not want a war in the region nor does it seek that," Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference on Sunday. "It will do what it can to prevent this war and at the same time it reaffirms that in the event the other side chooses war, the kingdom will respond with all force and determination, and it will defend itself and its interests." John Bolton wants tough line with Iran Credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters In Washington Donald Trump has emerged as a dove within his own administration, telling his acting defence secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he wants to avoid an armed conflict erupting. It has put the US president at odds with John Bolton, his national security adviser and a long-standing foreign policy hawk, who has made little secret of his desire for regime change in Tehran. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has also sought to lower the temperature by asking European allies to intervene with Iran. Washington's stance on Iran has put it at odds with European allies, notably after it withdrew from the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration. Over the weekend Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran and Democratic presidential candidate, rounded on Mr Trump and Mr Pompeo accusing them of leading the country into a war with Iran. "He says he doesn't want it, but the actions of him and his administration, people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, tell us a very different story," she said on ABC. "They are setting the stage for a war with Iran that would prove to be far more costly, far more devastating and dangerous than anything that we saw in the Iraq war."

  • Blast hits Egypt tourist bus, 17 injured: security, medical sources
    World
    AFP

    Blast hits Egypt tourist bus, 17 injured: security, medical sources

    An explosion struck a tourist bus on Sunday near Egypt's famed pyramids, injuring 17 people including foreigners, security and medical sources said. South Africans and Egyptians were among those injured when an explosive device went off, hitting the bus in Giza, according to the sources. Sunday's incident comes after three Vietnamese holidaymakers and their Egyptian guide were killed when a roadside bomb hit their bus as it travelled near the pyramids outside Cairo in December.

  • Elizabeth Warren has a plan to fix everything, even our sad love lives
    Politics
    Mashable

    Elizabeth Warren has a plan to fix everything, even our sad love lives

    Elizabeth Warren is all about making plans, and she's bringing her expert policy-making skills to social media.The 2020 presidential candidate has plans to forgive student debt, rebuild the middle class, and even end the opioid crisis. But she's also open to helping people navigate their tricky love lives.On Saturday, comedian Ashley Nicole Black asked her 88,000 followers if they thought Warren had a plan to fix her love life. On Sunday, Warren, queen of policies, unexpectedly replied to the tweet directly."DM me and let's figure this out," Warren tweeted. Simply iconic. DM me and let's figure this out. -- Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 19, 2019SEE ALSO: Elizabeth Warren takes a 'hard pass' on Fox News town hallBlack was absolutely shook upon receiving Warren's response, and she tweeted a screenshot of the exchange, along with the words, "I am deceased. And ready to welcome new love in my life. And then get our new pres elected. ~~~~ shehasaplan" We stan a Queen. Nay, a PRESIDENT. https://t.co/WIPCbUzWNJ -- Ashley Nicole Black (@ashleyn1cole) May 19, 2019Other Twitter users were equally impressed by Warren's hilarious tweet, and digitally bowed down to the Democratic candidate by showering her with praise. Welp, she did it. Elizabeth Warren just won the presidency. Give her the White House, the Iron Throne, a Nobel prize, a pony, whatever she wants. pic.twitter.com/AlKOC9oFDy -- Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) May 19, 2019 This is the most magical thing I've ever seen happen on this website or anywhere -- Katie MacBride (@msmacb) May 19, 2019 How effin' awesome is this?! A POTUS with a heart, a mind, a sense of humor and two X chromosomes. Yes! We are so ready for this! ElizabethWarren Warren2020 -- Annie Fox (@Annie_Fox) May 19, 2019 All hail.... pic.twitter.com/RCNOy0SzMp -- Isaac Butler (@parabasis) May 19, 2019 This is the kind of leadership I want for this nation pic.twitter.com/3aVFYd88ki -- Karen Kilgariff (@KarenKilgariff) May 19, 2019 First, this is hilarious. Second, if you give folks student loan debt relief, some help with higher wages and access to affordable housing and daycare, all those things give space to actually wanna go on dates and make it possible to build a family. So she kinda does have a plan! https://t.co/Nrs0w74xiJ -- Brittney Cooper (@ProfessorCrunk) May 19, 2019 She has a plan for EVERYTHING! https://t.co/0fsaqJAuQD -- Jenny Han (@jennyhan) May 19, 2019 Whoever says women candidates aren't relatable or likeable or funny is nuts. I adore this woman. https://t.co/AJtlEhbRiR -- Belle Resists (@BelleResist) May 19, 2019Many were well aware Warren has established herself as the 2020 election's Sam from Holes by saying "I can fix that" in the face of any challenge. But to see her keeping things light, acknowledging, and extending her own strong policy plans to social media was a delight.Warren, the American people stan you giving relationship advice, but can you please make it public next time so we can all benefit? Thanks. WATCH: Beto O'Rourke announces $5 trillion climate crisis plan

  • 9 Cool Things We Learned Driving the Spectre Land Rover Defender
    Business
    Popular Mechanics

    9 Cool Things We Learned Driving the Spectre Land Rover Defender

    Created by the custom shop Himalaya, this Defender is a Land Rover like you've never seen before-complete with a Chevy V8 and a Jeep steering box.From Popular Mechanics

  • World
    USA TODAY Opinion

    I'm a progressive Venezuelan American. Disliking Trump doesn't mean I will support Maduro.

    My fellow progressives actually doubt if I'm still a Democrat just because I won't accept Nicolas Maduro's tyrannic regime in my home of Venezuela.

  • Ukraine's New Leader Starts Push for Snap Parliamentary Vote
    World
    Bloomberg

    Ukraine's New Leader Starts Push for Snap Parliamentary Vote

    Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was sworn in Monday, won a resounding electoral victory last month on pledges to end decades of corruption and resolve the deadly conflict fomented by Russia after it annexed Crimea in 2014. “There will be serious legal debates about the terms of parliament’s dissolution,” Yuriy Yakymenko, an analyst at the Razumkov Center for Economic and Political Studies in Kiev, said by phone. On Monday, the second-largest party, the bloc of outgoing President Petro Poroshenko, said it would be prepared for a snap ballot, as long as such a step is justified.

  • World
    Reuters

    Eiffel Tower climber in custody after daring ascent

    Rescuers successfully talked down a man who scaled the upper heights of the Eiffel Tower on Monday, forcing the monument's evacuation, and handed him over to police. Television channels ran live shots as rescuers perched on the 324-metre (1,063-foot) tower's wrought-iron struts, just below the highest viewing platform, tried to persuade the unknown man to give himself up. The lattice tower, named after its designer and builder Gustave Eiffel, is one of the world's most recognizable landmarks.

  • Best Tech Deals in May 2019
    Lifestyle
    Tech Media Network (Tom's Guide)

    Best Tech Deals in May 2019

    Amazon Deals | Walmart Deals | Apple Deals | TV Deals | Gaming Deals | Laptop DealsGood news for bargain hunters this week. Retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart are offering early Memorial Day sales with discounts on everything from smart home devices to game consoles. So if you're looking for the best tech deals, you've come to the right place.  Shopping around for a kid-friendly tablet for your upcoming family vacation? When you preorder the All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet  for $99.99, you'll get a free pair of Toy Story Headphones (a $22 value).  The new Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet sports a case that twice as rugged as the previous model. What's more, it features a built-in kickstand.  If you're shopping for an affordable GPS running watch, Amazon has the Garmin Forerunner 35 on sale for $119.99 ($50 off). With built-in GPS and 24/7 heart rate monitoring, this watch helps you track and meet your daily health and fitness goals. With the imminent arrival of Amazon Prime Day 2019, soon we'll be gathering the best Amazon Prime Day deals. In the meantime, here are some of the best tech deals we're seeing right now. Amazon Hardware DealsAmazon is currently offering many of its proprietary devices at discounted pricing. * All-New Fire 7 Tablet w/ $10 Appstore Credit for $49.99 ($10 off)  * All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet w/ Toy Story Headphones  for $99.99 ($22 off, preorder)  * Echo Connect for $24.49 ($11 off) * Fire TV Stick for $24.99 ($15 off, Prime Members Only)  * Fire TV Stick 4K for $34.99 ($15 off, Prime Members Only)  * Echo Dot (3rd Gen) Smart Speaker (3-Pack) for $70 ($80 off) * Echo Spot Smart Alarm Clock (2-Pack) for $219.98 ($40 off)  * Echo Dot Kids Edition + Fire HD 8 Kids Edition for $149.98 ($50 off) * Echo Dot Kids Edition + Fire 7 Kids Edition for $129.98 ($40 off) * Ring Video Doorbell 2 w/ Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $199 ($49 off) * Ring Spotlight Wireless Cam w/ Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $199 ($49 off)  * Ring Spotlight Wired Cam Wired w/ Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $199 ($50 off) * Ring Stick-Up Wireless Cam w/ Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $179.99 ($50 off)  * Ring Stick-Up Wired Cam w/ Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $179.99 ($50 off)  * Ring Floodlight Cam w/ Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for $249 ($50 off)  * Ring Smart Lighting Spotlights (2-pack) for $99.99 ($30 off)  Top Tech Deals Right Now * Kenmore Smart Air Conditioner (12,000 BTUs) for $409.99 ($80 off)  * Honeywell Portable Air Conditioner (10,000 BTUs) for $349 ($101 off)  * Apple Smart Battery Case for $102 ($27 off) * Apple AirPods 2nd Gen (Back-order) for $139.99 ($19 off) * Apple iPad 9.7-inch 128GB for $329 ($100 off) * Apple iPad Air 2019 (Wi-Fi, 64GB) for $479 ($20 off)  * Apple 9.7-inch iPad for $249 ($81 off) * Microsoft Surface Go for $399 ($100 off)  * Acer Aspire 3 Laptop for $400 ($99 off) TV Deals * Vizio 50-inch 4K HDR Smart TV for $279.99 ($120 off) [NEW] * Samsung 55-inch Q60 Series 4K QLED Smart TV (2019) for $997.99 ($200 off) [PRICE DROP] * LG 65-inch 4K UHD Smart TV for $599.99 ($600 off)  * Vizio 55-inch P-Series 4K HDR Smart TV for $598 ($200 off)  * Vizio 65-inch M-Series 4K HDR Smart TV for $649.99 ($350 off)  * Sharp 65-inch 4K Smart TV for $449.99 ($250 off)  * Sony 70-Inch 4K UHD Smart TV for $1,098 ($500 off) * TCL 55-inch 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart TV for $329.99 ($270 off)  * Samsung 49-inch Q60 Series 4K QLED Smart TV (2019) for $797.99 ($202 off)  Tech Under $50 * SanDisk 128GB Nintendo Switch MicroSD Card for $24.99 ($10 off) [NEW] * Apple Lightning to USB Cable for $15 ($4 off) [NEW] * Chocotech Wireless Charging Stand for $8.99 ($8 off via coupon, "LZTVD9NI") [NEW] * Spotify Premium Membership for $0.99 ($27 off, ends 6/30)  * Logitech M705 Marathon Wireless Mouse for $24.99 ($25 off)  * Redragon K552 LED Gaming Keyboard for $34.99 ($25 off)  * Anker 7-in-1 USB C Hub for $40 ($30 off)  * Echo Connect for $24.49 ($11 off) Smartwatch Deals * Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS, 42mm, Renewed) for $209 ($100 off)  * Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS, 38mm) for $199 ($80 off)  * Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro w/ $125 GC for $199.99 ($125 off)  * Garmin Forerunner 935 for $407 ($93 off) * Garmin Fenix 5S Plus for $599.99 ($200 off) also at Best Buy  * Garmin Fenix 5X Plus for $649.99 ($150 off) also at Best Buy  * Garmin Fenix 5 for $349.99 ($150 off) also at Best Buy Phones * Motorola Moto Z3 Black (Verizon) for $24 ($456 off with contract) [NEW] * Google Pixel 3 64GB (Clearly White) for $679.99 ($119 off)  * Google Pixel 3 XL 64GB for $699 ($200 off) * Google Pixel 3 XL 64GB Unlocked (Just Black) for $720 ($179 off) * Google Pixel 3 XL 128GB Unlocked for $779 ($221 off)  * Apple iPhone SE Unlocked for $249 ($100 off) * Samsung Galaxy S9 Unlocked 64GB for $493 ($107 off)  * Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Unlocked 128GB for $673 ($327 off) [PRICE DROP] Cameras * Arlo Smart Wi-fi Baby Monitor Camera for $133 ($67 off)  * Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera for $498 ($150 off)  * Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera w /15-45mm Lens for $599 ($300 off)  * Nikon D3500 DSLR Camera w/ 18-55mm VR Lens for $396.95 ($103 off)  * Canon PowerShot SX530 Digital Camera for $229 ($150 off) Games and Consoles * Nintendo Switch Bundle with 2 Free Games for $299.99 ($50 off, ends 5/22) [NEW] * MS Xbox One X 1TB Division 2 Bundle for $329.98 ($170 off via coupon, "PRO60") [NEW] * Rainbow Six Siege Advanced Edition for $29 ($31 off) [NEW] * MS Xbox One S 1TB Console for $211 ($82 off) [PRICE DROP] * Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch for $50 ($10 off)  * Mortal Kombat 11 for Xbox One or (Switch) for $50 ($10 off) * Marvel's Spider-Man for PS4 for $35 ($25 off) also at Amazon   * WWE 2K19 Deluxe Edition for $39.99 ($50 off)  * Kingdom Hearts 3 for PS4 for $29.99 ($30 off)  * Kingdom Heart 3 for Xbox One for $29.99 ($30 off)  * Red Dead Redemption 2 for PS4 for $34.99 ($25 off)

  • Business
    USA TODAY

    Here are the five worst Dow Jones industrial average performers as trade dispute escalates

    The Dow turned volatile as the trade war between the US and China escalated the last two weeks, producing stock losers and winners.

  • The Latest: Saudi Arabia won't hesitate to defend itself
    World
    Associated Press

    The Latest: Saudi Arabia won't hesitate to defend itself

    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in the Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):

  • Boeing acknowledges flaw in 737 MAX simulator software
    Business
    AFP

    Boeing acknowledges flaw in 737 MAX simulator software

    Boeing acknowledged Saturday it had to correct flaws in its 737 MAX flight simulator software used to train pilots, after two deadly crashes involving the aircraft that killed 346 people. "Boeing has made corrections to the 737 MAX simulator software and has provided additional information to device operators to ensure that the simulator experience is representative across different flight conditions," it said in a statement. Boeing's statement about the flight simulator marked a first acknowledgement of shortcoming since the two accidents led to the grounding of the top-selling 737 MAX plane.

  • Brit Hume praises Pete Buttigieg: The most impressive candidate in the Democratic field
    Politics
    FOX News Videos

    Brit Hume praises Pete Buttigieg: The most impressive candidate in the Democratic field

    It will be interesting to see how Pete Buttigieg stacks up against Joe Biden on the debate stage, says Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume.

  • Secret Service Officers Are Being Sent to the Border
    News
    The Daily Beast

    Secret Service Officers Are Being Sent to the Border

    Jose Luiz Gonzalez/ReutersThe U.S. Secret Service is now participating in a not-so-secret undertaking: dealing with the influx of migrants at America’s southern border. According to a communication from the Department of Homeland Security’s headquarters reviewed by The Daily Beast, the small law enforcement agency has sent personnel to the border already and is looking to send more in the coming weeks. The move came in response to a directive then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sent out earlier this spring asking each component of the department to find volunteers and dispatch them to the border. Even though it’s most closely associated with the White House, the Secret Service—along with a host of other entities and agencies—is a component of DHS. And as a result, it’s shipping people south. A DHS spokesperson did not dispute this reporting. “As we have consistently said, the Department is considering all options to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border,” said the spokesperson. “We will continue to work with our workforce to find dynamic solutions and funding to address this very serious problem. As part of this effort, it is our responsibility to explore fiscal mechanisms that will ensure the safety and welfare of both our workforce and the migrant population, which is also reflected in the supplemental request submitted to Congress.”The Daily Beast reported last week that the arm of DHS that handles threats to America’s cybersecurity and critical infrastructure, called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has struggled to find enough volunteers to head to the border and fulfill DHS headquarters’ request. The agency works to secure election systems, schools, and places of worship—all of which face acute threats. Besides protecting the president, the first family, and other prominent government figures, the Secret Service also conducts criminal investigations. Its focuses include financial crimes and cybersecurity threats. The diversion of law enforcement and national security personnel to the border has concerned some Congressional Democrats, who say it may be a misuse of limited government resources. But pushing back against the dramatic increase in people trying to enter the U.S. through the southern border has become has become a singular priority of the president. In both March and April, law enforcement officials apprehended more than 100,000 people trying to enter the U.S., according to DHS statistics. During the Obama administration, the agency was beset by scandal: Washington socialites slipped past agents and crashed the president’s first state dinner; a Secret Service agent told his counterparts to stand down after a man fired a gun at the White House, thinking the sound came from a car backfiring; an agent who traveled to Amsterdam with the president to protect him got drunk and passed out in a hallway; and more, as NBC News has detailed. Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

  • India's Narendra Modi on track for a second term as PM, exit polls predict
    World
    The Telegraph

    India's Narendra Modi on track for a second term as PM, exit polls predict

    India’s prime minister Narendra Modi look set to retain power at the head of a coalition government last night, after exit polls showed his Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies were on track to win a majority of seats in India’s parliament. With polls showing the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance will win as many as 306 seats in India’s 543-seat lower house, the controversial Hindu-nationalist leader would secure a second five-year term, though with a slimmer mandate than in 2014. The opposition Congress-led United Progressive Alliance coalition, which sunk to historic lows last time out, were predicted to win an estimated 132 seats - but a Congress spokesman dismissed the exit polls as “laughable”, citing the shyness of voters in such a polarised contest. The exit polls, which have proved wildly unreliable in the past, were released yesterday evening after the last of India’s 900 million registered voters had cast their ballots. The counted result is due on Thursday. The six week campaign has been largely peaceful, though ended with violent clashes on the outskirts of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal where the BJP have been skirmishing with the regional Trinamool Congress party. There were sporadic clashes throughout the campaign as Mr Modi pushed to pick up seats in the target-rich state to offset expected losses elsewhere. The projected result emerged as Mr Modi attracted attracted ire and bemusement yesterday after donning saffron robes to meditate in a Himalayan cave, in a bid to garner voters at the end of the campaign. In pictures released by his party press machine, the PM is seen wearing the orange garments synonymous with Hindu priests and sitting cross-legged in a cave near the Kedarnath shrine, in the northern state of Uttarakhand. A master of the grand political gesture, Mr Modi and his aides tweeted the photos, hoping they would strike a chord with his austere, religious supporters. Indian elections 2019 - Projected seat share However, as violence continued in West Bengal and people were voting in Mr Modi’s own constituency of Varanasi, the holy city on the River Ganges, the pictures were mocked online. “No meditation is complete or meaningful without the right attire, red carpet and of course a stage managed photo opportunity,” wrote Rupa Subramanya prominent economist and a former BJP supporter turned critic. Other observers and much of the Indian media turned their attention to the caves themselves - which are actually in a man-made retreat. They can be booked online for Rs 990 (£11.20) a day and the facilities include electricity, drinking water, and “morning tea, breakfast, lunch, evening tea and dinner at prescribed timing which can be changed upon request”, reported the Hindustan Times. The cave also has a telephone connection and an attendant who can be summoned with a bell, the newspaper added.