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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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In Ohio, third-party candidates could tilt election – USA TODAY

Category : Stocks

Business Recorder
In Ohio, third-party candidates could tilt election
In Ohio, third-party candidates could tilt election. By Jane Prendergast, The Cincinnati EnquirerShare. Comments. President Obama points to supporters during a campaign rally at Fifth Third Arena in Ohio on Sunday. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)
Obama, Romney to make their final case on last day of raceReuters
Obama has edge in voter turnout effort, but Romney's seen as sufficient for victoryDallas Morning News
Obama, Romney rally in battleground statesThe Detroit News
Boston Globe

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Ohio’s white men: the holy grail that Obama and Romney must win over

Category : Business

In the latest in a series on key voters in key states, the Guardian travelled to Ohio to ask five undecided men: which issues are most important to you – and who’s getting your vote?

Larry Bushnell is one of the undecideds, that rarefied group of Americans who have yet to make up their minds whom to back on 6 November and whose vote could decide who holds the world’s most powerful office.

He lives in Ohio, one of the most crucial swing states in the US with its rich crop of 18 electoral college votes. It is often said that as Ohio goes, so goes the US presidency – it has consistently backed the winning candidate in every presidential election bar one since 1944. Within Ohio, Lake County where Bushnell lives is a bellwether, as it consistently cleaves more closely to the statewide voting pattern than anywhere else in the state.

Bushnell has yet another distinction as a voter. He belongs to a demographic group that in modern times Democratic presidential candidates, with Barack Obama as no exception, have struggled to bring on board – white men. In 2008, Obama won just 41% of the total white male vote across the US, a proportion that slumped further to 39% for white men without a college education.

Polls this year show that Mitt Romney has capitalised on the Republican advantage among this demographic in key swing states like Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, bringing his support among non-college educated white men to about 58%. But Romney also knows how high the stakes are in this state – his overall poll rating has trailed behind Obama’s, and though he has made up much ground in the past 10 days he will be all too familiar with the chilling fact that no Republican has won the US presidency without having also won Ohio.

The good news for Obama and Romney is that they still have time to win over Bushnell, a 58-year-old retired manager at a jet engine repairs factory, such is his state of indecision. The bad news is that Bushnell detests both of them.

“I’ve been online checking them out, and I honestly think they both suck. They’ll lie to get your vote,” he said.

Bushnell plumped for Obama in 2008, but is angry that the president has failed, as he sees it, to deliver on his promise of change. He is equally unimpressed by Romney, who he regards a “coward – he keeps on flip-flopping from one thing to the next”.

‘I’ll vote for the guy I think will be better for me’

The Guardian gathered a sample group of five white male voters, Bushnell among them, in this bellwether area within a bellwether state to explore their mood and motivations. Interviewed outside a Home Depot store in Mentor, a small town within Lake County, they also included Roberto Ciora, 57, who has a message that will be pleasing to the Romney camp.

In past presidential elections, Ciora has always voted for a third-party candidate, because he says he’s so disillusioned with both main parties. But for now Romney has his vote, not so much for positive reasons but because he’s the not-Obama candidate.

Ciora, a hospital nurse in Cleveland, says he will vote for Romney as a protest against the president. He doesn’t like Obama’s healthcare reforms – he thinks they will turn America into Canada “where you have to wait months to see a doctor”.

He also distrusts Obama on running the economy. “Obama has no business experience – he’s a lawyer. Romney is a businessman who could get the debt under control.”

Mark Luptak, 39, is leaning towards Romney, though not firmly so. Until recently he ran his own plastering business, but the residential housing market was in such doldrums after the 2008 economic crash that he had to shut it down and take a job in a larger commercial firm.

The home improvement market is as bad as anything he’s seen since the 1980s, and though he voted for Obama in 2008 he has little hope that another four years of his administration will drag it back up. “I don’t know if anything will help right now. The economy is horrible and I don’t think that’s going to change for years.”

The trade union at the construction firm he has joined is prompting him to vote for Obama. But Luptak says he’s minded to swing behind Romney because he thinks a Romney administration would be more friendly to small businesses like the one he used to run.

“Honestly, I don’t know. I’m a construction worker – I just go with my gut. I’ll vote for the guy I think will be better for me, I’m selfish like that.”

Ready to give Obama another chance

The relative faith of Luptak and Ciora in Romney as the best candidate to run the US economy runs in tune with recent polls which have seen the race tightening over the past two weeks in the wake of Romney’s confident showing, and Obama’s lacklustre one, in the first televised presidential debate on 3 October. Though there is considerable latitude between polls, the Real Clear Politics tracker survey has Obama ahead by just two points in Ohio – a statistical tie.

Obama’s continuing, though slim, edge may have something to do with the fact that his re-election campaign has presented him aggressively as saviour of the American auto industry – a message conveyed by an avalanche of TV adverts served in the state. Ohio’s resurgent car industry, particularly in northern areas of the state like Lake County where parts production factories are concentrated, has added more than 11,000 jobs since June 2009, helping to bring down the jobless rate to 7.2%, well below the national unemployment rate of 7.8%.

John Ferguson, 22, is thinking that he will probably vote for Obama on grounds that the economy, though far from perfect, will be safest in his hands. He works in a fiberglass factory making underground piping. “I’m one of the lucky ones. I got in somewhere,” he said.

He says he is “pretty sure” he’ll vote Obama to give him “another chance. When Obama took over we were billions in debt, and it’s pretty much impossible to swing that around in four years.”

Mark Travis, the fifth member of the group, says he is frustrated and upset by all the political banter this year. But he is firm in his position, having already decided that he will put his cross beside Obama’s name on 6 November.

An entrepreneur, aged 30, Travis said he adheres to many conservative principles but just doesn’t trust Romney or the Republicans to follow through. “The basic truth is that the Republicans don’t deliver on what they promise. Neither do the Democrats, but they are a little more dependable.”

Florida Latino voters: ‘we don’t think the government represents us’

Category : Business

As area nearly ruined by the financial crisis begins to finally recover, politicians are finding undecided voters hard to win over

Poinciana sits in the heart of the vote-rich Interstate-4 corridor where the battle for Florida – and quite possibly the White House itself – will soon be fought. This is the ultimate swing region, in the ultimate swing state, with Latino voters holding their fingers on the scale.

“The I-4 corridor generally is divided; whichever party can capture the voters generally does well,” explains David Colburn, director of the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute on Politics and Society at the University of Florida. “The southeastern part of the state typically votes Democrat, the northern part and significantly the southwest vote Republican.”

Poinciana is a bedroom community of 54,000 residents 20 minutes outside Orlando that started out as a retirement development 40 years ago. But the population here is no longer dominated by older, white retirees. Poinciana went from 65% white in 2000 to 51% Hispanic in 2010. Puerto Ricans make up almost 70% of the community’s Hispanic population with small numbers of Dominicans, Mexicans and Cubans mixed in. These are the voters who could swing the state – if, that is, they show up to the polls.

While Barack Obama can win a second term without a Florida victory, many analysts see no viable path to the White House for Republican challenger Mitt Romney if he loses the Sunshine State. Voters in Puerto Rico tend to favor Democratic candidates over Republican ones, and registration statistics in central Florida reflect this preference.

However, almost a third of Hispanic voters here have no political party preference. It is these voters that Obama and Romney need to woo.

Bush managed to win 52% of the vote in Poinciana in 2004, but Obama captured nearly 60% in 2008. Some think Romney could have swung Poinciana back to red by choosing the Hispanic Florida senator Marco Rubio as his running mate. Rubio won Poinciana in his 2010 bid for the US Senate, fending off both a Democrat and an independent in a contentious election.

But to prevail, Romney will have to overcome the sense of disenfranchisement reflected in low turnout among the region’s Hispanic population over the years. Whereas Puerto Rico enjoys an 80% voter turnout, that number plummets to 17% among Puerto Ricans living in Florida.

“There’s been very little incentive for candidates to get to know the community issues,” Anthony Suarez, a Spanish-language radio host said.

‘The poster child for the financial crisis’

For now, the economy is the top issue on the minds of residents, whether it be concerns over decreased home values or an unemployment rate above the national average. To win votes here, particularly among the politically disenchanted Puerto Rican population, the candidates’ economic message needs to be strong.

“In 2006 we were the fastest-growing development community in the nation with waiting lists for houses and unbelievable growth. But during the 2008 recession Poinciana literally became the poster child for the financial crisis,” resident Keith Laytham said.

The growth was spurred on by a boom in the tourism industry around Orlando in the early 2000s. But people stopped taking expensive vacations when the economy deflated, leaving many of these new Latino arrivals without a job. Many are also under water on their housing, having bought homes at inflated prices that can now not be recouped.

Results of a study conducted by the Pew Research Center last year show the median net worth for Hispanic households in Florida dropped by 88% between 2005 and 2009 and the median home value decreased by 72%. Poinciana has some of the highest rates of housing strife in the country – a quarter of its 24,000 homes have fallen into foreclosure in the last four years. “You had people buying $250,000 homes at the height of the boom even though the median income in the county was $28,000,” said Osceola County Commissioner Brandon Arrington.

There are signs that the housing market may be bottoming out. And the unemployment rate in the area is finally moving in the right direction after peaking at 11.5% in January 2010, though it still remains slightly above the national average.

“It’s the regular, working stiffs who are affected when there are cutbacks. The majority of the people here work in the hospitality industry or have construction jobs,” Poinciana resident Roberto Sanchez said.

Sanchez, whose parents are from Puerto Rico, moved to the community eight years ago after losing his job in New Jersey. He was laid off from another construction job at the height of the unemployment crisis but has managed to find work as a quality control technician for an asphalt company.

He is frustrated with the stalled economy. “We don’t think the government represents us. I have issues with both sides – the Democrats because of the unfulfilled promises and the Republicans because it seems they only care about rich, white people.”

Many local Hispanics of Puerto Rican descent feel they are treated as second-class citizens by both parties. “If you go with the Republicans, you’re going to be second class to the Cubans. If you go with the Democrats, you’re going to be second to the African American community,” Suarez said.

Overall, though, Suarez sees a contrast between the two main parties ahead of the presidential election. “Right now the Republicans are doing everything they can to ensure Poinciana stays Democrat and the Democrats are doing everything they can to attract them.”

Danny Sexton, chairman of the Osceola County Republican party, admits that he has a daunting task ahead of him when it comes to engaging Hispanic voters. “If you’re going to win an election in this state, especially from Osceola County south, you’ve got to figure out how you’re gonna appeal to Hispanic voters and independents because Republicans are not going to win if they don’t,” he said.

As chairman of the county’s Republican party, it’s obvious who Sexton is pulling for. But he has his eyes on a longer-term prize.

“I want people in the state party when this election cycle is over to be able to look at Osceola County and say: ‘They got it right, they figured out a way to reach out to an incredibly diverse population, a changing population. A population that 10 years ago looked entirely different than it does today and that we figured out how to appeal to people’s best interest.’”

Pennsylvania Judge Keeps Voter ID Law Intact on Its Way to Higher Court – New York Times

Category : Stocks

New York Times
Pennsylvania Judge Keeps Voter ID Law Intact on Its Way to Higher Court
New York Times
A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday declined to block a new state law requiring specific kinds of photo identification to vote. Liberal groups, arguing that minorities and the poor would be disproportionately deprived of the ballot, said they would
Judge Allows Voter-ID Law to ProceedWall Street Journal
Pennsylvania voter-ID law upheldUSA TODAY
Judge won't halt Pennsylvania voter ID lawFox News
Washington Post

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GOP-backed voter ID law will stand in Pennsylvania – Christian Science Monitor

Category : Stocks

Christian Science Monitor
GOP-backed voter ID law will stand in Pennsylvania
Christian Science Monitor
A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday refused to stop a tough new voter identification law from going into effect, which Democrats say will suppress votes among President Barack Obama's supporters. Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he wouldn't
Judge Refuses to Block Pennsylvania Voter ID LawWall Street Journal
Ruling not likely to settle voter ID questionPhiladelphia Inquirer
Pennsylvania judge won't block voter ID
The Associated Press all 211 news articles

Florida Allowed to Access Citizen Database for Voter Purge – Fox News

Category : Stocks

The Guardian
Florida Allowed to Access Citizen Database for Voter Purge
Fox News
In a victory for Republicans, the federal government has agreed to let Florida use a law enforcement database to help purge noncitizens the state government suspects it may have on its voter rolls. The agreement, made in a letter to Florida Gov.
Voter purge win for GOP could tip White House raceNewsday
US to Let Florida Use Its Data for Voter CheckPittsburgh Post Gazette
Feds let Florida access noncitizen list to purge voter rollsDenver Post

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There’s class war in Wisconsin, yet the Democrats sing Kumbaya | Gary Younge

Category : Business

A vote to recall the state’s Republican governor has huge implications for US politics, but the liberals have missed their cue

There is a degree of hyperbole one comes to expect from American activists around election time. Given the level of polarisation, this is hardly surprising. Every vote, you’re told, is about liberty, justice, the American dream, the constitution or the world one wants to leave your children or grandchildren. Then, often, half the eligible voters stay at home and, regardless of who wins, not an awful lot changes.

So when activists on both sides of the effort to recall Wisconsin’s governor insist “everything” is at stake, they should not be taken too literally. Nonetheless, this time they have a point.

The recall campaign was sparked last year when Republican governor Scott Walker pledged to remove collective bargaining rights from public sector unions and cut local government workers’ health benefits and pension entitlements, claiming this was necessary to balance the state’s budget. Walker, a Tea Party supporter, was elected in 2010 against Democrat Tom Barrett, with 52% of the vote. By February 2011, tens of thousands of protesters descended on the state capitol in Madison. In all 50 states, rallies were held to support Wisconsin unions. Before tents ever went up on Wall Street, this midwestern state was occupied. Unable to prevent passage of his anti-union bill and other measures, labour activists and progressives collected more than 900,000 signatures to recall him.

That makes Tuesday’s vote a rare chance for a clear referendum on who should pay for this economic crisis – those who created it or those who have suffered most because of it. So in a state with a larger population than Ireland’s and a GDP greater than Portugal’s, people here will vote on the causes and consequences of austerity.

Walker’s record speaks for itself. In his first year in office Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state, and was one from last in private sector job growth. He has cut tax relief to low-income families and the state’s Medicaid program. He has introduced a voter ID bill that will limit minority and low-income electoral participation, reproductive rights legislation that has forced Planned Parenthood to suspend providing basic services to women and repealed the law that protects equal pay

Robocalls may need regulating, elections chief tells MPs

Category : World News

Elections Canada may recommend regulating robocalls following 1,100 complaints from the last election, the Chief Electoral Officer told MPs today. He also said the agency is reviewing voter registration rules after results in a Toronto riding were thrown out.

Continued here: Robocalls may need regulating, elections chief tells MPs

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Obama v Romney: the economic match-up | Harry J Enten

Category : Business

Three economic factors will determine the outcome of the 2012 election: growth, jobs and incomes. So whom do they favour?

All successful presidential incumbents run on their record. We all remember Ronald Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” and Bill Clinton’s 1992 “Bridge to the 21st Century”.

All successful challengers run against the record of the incumbent. Reagan’s 1980 campaign used the famous “Are you better-off than you were four years ago?”; while Clinton’s 1992 ads invoked James Carville’s words, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

In all four of these elections, the successful candidate won on the economy. For these candidates, the ability to run on the economy was made easy by the fact that there were not many conflicting signals. Jobs, incomes, and gross domestic product (GDP) growth were, for the re-election years of 1984 and 1996, all performing in the upper half of presidential terms over the last 50 years, while in 1980 and 1992, they were all languishing.

2012 will be different. 

If you were to focus on economic growth over the presidential term, you would likely give President Obama something close to an “F” on the economy. He will be lucky to break even on job growth and has a record on GDP and income growth that ranks among the worst of any president in the past 60 years. 

But sometimes, numbers lie. Most would agree that Obama should not be held responsible for economic growth during his first few months in office. If you were, for example, to hone in on the annual increase in jobs for the fiscal years that began under Obama (that is, September 2009 and later, instead of January 2009), growth during the Obama administration would still rank in the bottom half, but would be closer to the lower 25th and not endmost 5th percentile.

Most Americans, though, focus on improvements in the economy within a year of the election. In fact, Larry Bartels’ income model would argue that a president benefits from weak economic growth during the first year of his term. This version of the economy is much easier on the eyes and wallet than Obama’s full term, but it still proves to be a tricky picture (as Sean Trende noted earlier this year).

Job growth over the first three quarters of this presidential year is likely to be at, or slightly below, the median for presidents in the past 60 years. If jobs had grown at the rate they did in February (when 227,000 jobs were added), then Obama would have been in Bill Clinton/1996 territory by the election year job growth measure.

Unfortunately for Obama, jobs growth has slowed significantly, and growth seems likely to closer to the low to mid 100,000s over the next few months. That would place his record fifth from the bottom since 1948; and by Nate Silver’s measure, that would make Obama about a 50-50 proposition for re-election. 

GDP growth over the first three quarters of this presidential year is likely to keep Obama competitive, but isn’t too impressive either. After registering 3.0% GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2011, GDP slipped back to 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012. If that rate continues through the third quarter of 2012, Obama’s GDP growth in the three quarters leading up to the election would be slightly weaker than George W Bush’s 1.4% average GDP change. In fact, only Dwight D Eisenhower was re-elected with worse numbers.

Incomes, as measured by real disposable income, are stagnant. In fact, over the first quarter, real disposable income per capita fell. It might climb slightly this election year, but it isn’t likely to get anywhere near the levels usually associated with re-election.

Thus, for Obama, the economic numbers argument is rather simple. He wants people to concentrate on this year’s economic situation, rather than what occurred earlier in his presidency. And he would presumably prefer a focus on job creation rather than incomes.

Mitt Romney’s job, then, will be to remind voters about the early years of the Obama presidency. If voters only think about what has occurred over the last year, he’s already lost part of the argument. Because incomes are by far the worst of the three major economic indicators, I would expect that we’ll continue to hear a lot about pocketbooks, groceries and gasoline.

Given that even the more favorable economic measures aren’t that favorable, Obama would also be wise to try to make this election about more than just the raw economic numbers. You might expect that Obama would attempt to run on “likeability”, but there is a reason that Romney’s campaign keeps bringing up the idea that Obama wants to make it a personality contest. History (via the great political scientist Lynn Vavreck), as we noted at the beginning, tells us that incumbents who don’t run on their economic record are not likely to be successful.

That’s why Obama wants to open a second and related line of attack on Romney’s inability to connect with voters – on economic issues. Whether it be about Romney’s cars, gardeners, houses, or Swiss bank account, Obama is going to try to kill the narrative that Romney knows how to handle the economy. We saw in the 2010 midterms that a number of incumbents were able to survive, despite low approvals, because they made their opponents seem incompetent or ill- prepared for the job at hand. 

That said, this line is not guaranteed to be successful. Jimmy Carter urged voters not to vote in Ronald Reagan, casting him as incompetent and extreme. That did keep Carter close in the polls, but Reagan – thanks, in part, to a strong final debate performance – was able to capitalize on Carter’s vulnerability over the very weak economy. 

Obama, I believe, has a better shot at pulling off this trick in 2012. He’s viewed far more favorably than Carter was, and Romney is viewed far less favorably than Reagan. Romney has already made a number of comments that could be construed as being out-of-touch.

Importantly, Obama isn’t trying to win an economy that has been “awful” over the last year, but rather, one that is middling if you believe GDP and job growth. He doesn’t need to convince many voters of Romney’s unfavorables. Obama is, therefore, close enough that just the slightest bit of voter doubt about his rival could be enough to clinch re-election. 

Romney, for his part, will try to be the guy who turned around many down-on-their-luck companies – precisely contrasting his record as an economic manager with Obama’s. People are beginning to view Romney more favorably; he may never be viewed more favorably than Obama, but he may win through if he avoids being tagged as an economic boogeyman.

So, the deciding questions will be: first, whether voters care more about jobs or about income; and second, whether Romney can pass a basic economic palatability test.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sever ties with group behind stand-your-ground laws

Category : Business

American Legislative Exchange Council is known for helping to pass laws favoring gun owners and voter ID requirements

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have ended their partnerships with a conservative group that supports the spread of restrictive voting laws and stand-your-ground legislation.

The announcements came after campaigners urged consumers to boycott companies linked with the the the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec).

PepsiCo ended its membership in the group in January, but it was first reported by NPR on Thursday.

Coca-Cola’s announcement that it had also severed ties with the organisation came on Wednesday after Color of Change, the nation’s largest African-American advocacy group, urged its members to boycott the company and other member corporations over their links with Alec.

Alec is a nonprofit member organisation whose stated purpose is the advancement of free-market principles, limited government, federalism and individual liberty. It drafts legislation on behalf of its individual and corporate members to develop what it calls “model laws” and sends them to lawmakers.

Its critics, including Color of Change, accuse it of working to disenfranchise minority and low-income voters by supporting the co-ordinated proliferation of voter ID laws which affect these groups.

It is also accused of encouraging up to 20 other states to enact similar measures to Florida’s controversial stand-your-ground law.

Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, said it had been in dialogue with Coca-Cola since last year over the issue. He said: “We welcome Coca-Cola’s decision to stop supporting the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization which has worked to disenfranchise African-Americans, Latinos, students, the elderly, the disabled and the poor. We confirmed with Coca-Cola that they are no longer a member of Alec and no longer fund the group in any capacity.”

Robinson said that hundreds of their members began calling Coca-Cola on Wednesday morning, and “the company listened to their voices”.

“We continue to call on all major corporations to stop supporting voter suppression through Alec. Our members are prepared to hold accountable companies that continue to participate in Alec’s attack on voting rights.”

More than 85,000 members signed a petition targeting Alec’s corporate partners for their role in suppressing the black vote, and 170,000 have signed a petition calling on the department of justice to take over the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager fatally shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer who claimed self defence, arrest his killer and review the police investigation of the case.

In a statement emailed to the Guardian, Coca-Cola confirmed it was ending its relationship with Alec.

Diana Garza Ciarlante, a Coca-Cola spokeswoman, said in the statement: “The Coca-Cola company has elected to discontinue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec). Our involvement with Alec was focused on efforts to oppose discriminatory food and beverage taxes, not on issues that have no direct bearing on our business. We have a long-standing policy of only taking positions on issues that impact our company and industry.”

On Wednesday, the Center for American Progress published a report on the proliferation of voter ID laws which it said were “hindering voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow”.

Last month, leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called on the UN human rights council to investigate the proliferation of restrictive electoral laws.

PepsiCo was a member of Alec for 10 years. In January, according to NPR, a company vice-president told Color Of Change that it would not renew its membership for 2012.

Alec did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

On its website it acknowledges that Florida’s stand-your-ground law was a basis for its model legislation but expressed scepticism that the law could apply in the Martin case.

“Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law was the basis for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s model legislation, not the other way around. Moreover, it is unclear whether that law could apply to this case at all. ‘Stand Your Ground’ or the ‘Castle Doctrine’ is designed to protect people who defend themselves from imminent death and great bodily harm.

“It does not allow you to pursue another person. It does not allow you to seek confrontation. It does not allow you to attack someone who does not pose an imminent threat. What it does is allow you to defend yourself and your family from immediate and real danger.”