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Germany's far-right AfD keeps second place in polls despite scandals

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) has maintained its second place in polls ahead of June’s European Parliament elections despite a wave of recent scandals that have threatened to damage the party’s hopes.

An online survey carried out by the INSA polling institute for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper had the AfD at 17 per cent, unchanged from April.

Germany’s conservative CDU/CSU alliance was top at 30 per cent, with the governing Social Democratic Party (SDP) at 14 per cent and its coalition partners The Greens and the Free Democratic Party at 13 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively.

The AfD has been rocked by controversies in recent weeks, with the party’s lead candidate for the European elections, Maximilian Krah, being banned from making public statements after saying that not all members of the Nazi SS paramilitary force were criminals.

The party’s second candidate in the European elections, Petr Bystron, has also withdrawn from the campaign after his Berlin home was searched by police last week. Bystron is under investigation for money laundering and bribery and has links to pro-Russian networks.

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In addition, German police arrested Krah’s former assistant, Jian Guo, on suspicion of espionage last month. Krah fired him following allegations that the parliamentary aide was spying for China.

While the spate of negative headlines is yet to harm the AfD in German polls, it has had consequences for the party on the European level.

In a blow ahead of the European Parliament elections, the AfD was ejected this week from the Identity and Democracy (ID) group, an alliance of populist right-wing parties in the parliament.

–IANS/DPA

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WHO warns counterfeit diabetes drugs in circulation worldwide

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Geneva, June 21 (IANS/DPA) Counterfeit diabetes drugs have been in circulation since 2022, a problem affecting all regions of the world, the WHO warned in a statement.

The health authority on Thursday referred specifically to findings in Britain, the US and Brazil since October 2023.

The drug concerns Ozempic, a medicine containing the active ingredient semaglutide, which is also approved in the EU for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

The counterfeit version looks identical to the real medicine. Because the product also suppresses the appetite, it is increasingly being prescribed for weight loss.

But counterfeit drugs may not contain the right amount of active ingredients and could therefore lead to uncontrolled sugar in diabetics, the WHO said, adding they may also contain other active ingredients that pose health risks.

The WHO called on doctors, pharmacists, regulatory authorities and the public to be vigilant.

People should only buy medicines on prescription from pharmacies and not online, the WHO said.

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Users should ensure that the dosage scale on insulin pens is displayed correctly, the label looks correct and there are no spelling mistakes on the box, the global health agency added.

–IANS/DPA

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Putin warns S.Korea against arms deliveries to Ukraine

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Hanoi, June 21 (IANS/DPA) Russian President Vladimir Putin has said South Korea would be making a “big mistake” if it supplies arms to Ukraine.

“If that happens, then we will make corresponding decisions that will not please the current leadership of South Korea,” Putin said on Thursday during a trip to Vietnam.

The South Korean government had earlier expressed concern over a new Russia-North Korea strategic partnership that includes a vow of mutual aid if either country is attacked.

Seoul said the security commitments violated UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang.

It also suggested it could reconsider its long-standing policy of not supplying weapons to Kiev.

North Korea, ruled by President Kim Jong Un, is subject to far-reaching UN sanctions and import bans due to its nuclear weapons programme, including the trade in weapons and the transfer of military technologies to the country.

During a state visit to Pyongyang on Wednesday, Putin signed the partnership agreement with Kim.

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At a press conference in Hanoi on Thursday, Putin called Seoul’s concerns unfounded.

He said South Korea had nothing to fear as the pact would only apply if either Russia or North Korea was attacked by a third country.

“As far as I know, (South Korea) is not planning any aggression” against North Korea, he said.

This means that “there is no need to fear our cooperation”.

Putin also said that he would not deploy any North Korean soldiers in Ukraine.

However, he threatened to deliver high-precision weapons to North Korea as a response to Western arms deliveries to Ukraine.

–IANS/DPA

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Washington prioritises Ukraine, postpones military supplies to others

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Washington, June 21 (IANS/DPA) The US government plans to postpone the delivery of some military equipment to other countries to prioritise strengthening Ukraine’s air defences.

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that given Kiev’s urgent needs, the US government had made the “difficult but necessary” decision to postpone certain planned arms sales to other countries, in particular missiles for the Patriot and NASAMS air defence systems.

These should go instead to Ukraine, whose armed forces urgently need additional air defence capacities, he added.

The countries concerned had been informed, Kirby said, though he did not say which countries were involved.

All are to receive what they had ordered, just a little later than originally planned, he added.

This was first mentioned by US President Joe Biden during a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a few days ago on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy.

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–IANS/DPA

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White House: Netanyahu criticism is 'perplexing' and 'disappointing'

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Washington, June 21 (IANS/DPA) The US government has expressed its anger at statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which he asserted that Washington is withholding arms deliveries to Israel.

White House National Security Spokesman John Kirby on Thursday called Netanyahu’s recent video message “perplexing to say the least,” “deeply disappointing” and “vexing”.

“This President put fighter aircraft up in the air in the middle of April to help shoot down several hundred drones and missiles, including ballistic missiles, that were fired from Iran proper at Israel,” Kirby noted.

Kirby said “no other country was doing more” to help Israel in its fight against Hamas and that the White House had “no idea” what prompted Netanyahu to make the comments in a video released on Tuesday.

In it, Netanyahu said it was “inconceivable” that the US had been “withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel,” but did offer specifics.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who recently met with Netanyahu, has also pushed back.

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Blinken said earlier that all arms shipments were moving as they “normally” would to Israel, apart from certain bombs that could be used in densely populated areas of Gaza. Those explosives have been paused pending a review.

Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden have been at loggerheads for months.

Biden and other high-ranking US government officials have made it unusually clear that they do not agree with Netanyahu’s actions in the Gaza war.

Criticism has been levelled in particular at the high number of civilian casualties and the humanitarian hardship in the Gaza Strip.

–IANS/DPA

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15 shot during Juneteenth celebration in Oakland

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San Francisco, June 21 (IANS) A shooting during a Juneteenth celebration at Lake Merritt in Oakland, US state of California, left 15 people injured, the police said.

The crowds were peaceful until around 8:15 p.m. local time on Wednesday when an illegal sideshow involving vehicles and motorbikes occurred near Grand Avenue and Bellevue Avenue, Oakland Police Department said on Thursday in a press statement.

During the sideshow, someone walked onto the hood of a car, which led to the occupants getting out and assaulting that person. Then came the gunfire, Oakland Police Department Chief Floyd Mitchell said at a press conference on Thursday noon.

The Oakland Fire Department said it transported at least four gunshot victims to a local hospital.

Police also took some victims to nearby hospitals. Other victims were self-transported.

–IANS

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