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Nikki Haley suspends race for White House after more losses (2nd Lead)

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Washington, March 6 (IANS) Nikki Haley, the former US Ambassador to the UN, suspended her campaign for the Republican nomination for President after a severe drubbing in the primaries held in more than 10 states on Tuesday.

Former President Donald Trump will now become the presumptive Republican nominee to take on President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the November election. He has a lock on the nomination with 955 delegates, which is just a bit shy of the winning threshold of 1,215 delegates. (Every state gives the candidates a certain number of delegates who will vote to elect a nominee in the party convention later in the year. Haley has picked up only 88 thus far).

The Indian American Republican did not endorse Trump in a brief speech she delivered announcing she was suspending their campaign. She said the former President must earn the support of the party

“It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party who did not support him, and I hope he does,” she said. “This is now his time for choosing.”

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Haley ran a gritty campaign coalescing Republican voters who did not want Trump to be their nominee again. But, in the end, their numbers fell far short of winning her the nomination. But she did raise substantial sums of money, garnering the support of some of the party’s largest donors, such as the immensely resourceful Koch Network, which in a sign of things to come, withdrew its support to Haley last week.

Haley won the primaries in only two states thus far, to Trump’s 22.

Calls had been mounting from within the Republican party for her to exit the race and let Trump focus on his contest against Biden. But Haley stayed in, arguing she was the better candidate than both Trump and Biden, who are battling voter scepticism on account of their age and, for the former president, a litany of civil and criminal charges, some of which he has lost and could end up in jail someday.

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Haley’s exit raises questions about her future. Could she join Trump as his running mate? She has said before she is not interested in a position in a Trump administration and that she is not auditioning for a job. But that could change. She is a woman and as a woman of colour, she brings unmatched equity to the ticket.

But is Trump interested? He has not included her in a shortlist he discussed in a TV interview recently. Also, Haley’s Republican supporters are stridently anti-Trump and their vote and support is unlikely to transfer to the former President if he were to be joined by Haley.

But Haley has also set herself up as a formidable candidate for the Republican nomination in 2028. The comparison being drawn by most experts is Ronald Reagan’s run for the nomination in the 1968 Republican primaries. He lost to Richard Nixon, who went on to serve one term and a second truncated term. Reagan established himself as a significant figure in the party and the country and went on to win the nomination and the Presidency in 1980.

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–IANS

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International

Hezbollah member among 3 killed in Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon

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Beirut, May 27 (IANS) Israeli airstrikes targeting a town and a village in southern Lebanon on Sunday resulted in the deaths of a Hezbollah member and two civilians, with another civilian being injured, Lebanese military sources said.

The anonymous sources said the Israeli army used for the first time a suicide drone to target a motorcycle on the road linking the town of Naqoura to the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, killing a local Hezbollah leader and seriously injuring a civilian, Xinhua news agency reported.

In a separate attack, an Israeli drone targeted a motorcycle in the village of Aita al-Shaab, killing two civilians.

The sources said that the killed Hezbollah member was Mohammad Hassan Baydoun from the city of Bint Jbeil, and the two civilians killed in Aita al-Shaab were Rafiq Qasim and Hussein Saleh.

Lebanese military sources said that they monitored the launching of 24 surface-to-surface missiles from southern Lebanon to northern Israel.

Tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border escalated on Oct. 8, 2023, following a barrage of rockets launched by the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah toward Israel in solidarity with Hamas’ attack on Israel the day before. Israel then retaliated by firing heavy artillery toward southeastern Lebanon.

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The confrontations between Hezbollah and Israel have killed 487 people on the Lebanese side, including 309 Hezbollah members and 91 civilians, according to Lebanese security sources.

–IANS

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11 killed as tornadoes leave trail of death and destruction in three US states (Lead)

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Washington, May 26 (IANS) At least 11 people were killed and several others injured as tornadoes wreaked havoc in the US states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, destroying buildings, power and gas lines, and a fuel station where many people were sheltering, reports said on Sunday.

Severe storms had formed over the states, where temperatures are running high, on Saturday night (local time), with Texas’ Cooke County, north of Dallas, and Denton County among the worst-affected areas, accounting for seven fatalities, the BBC reported.

Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington told local media that authorities feared that the toll was likely to rise.

Meanwhile, search and rescue operations were on and they were hopeful of finding survivors, he added.

Footage on local media showed a fuel station almost completely destroyed, with twisted metal and damaged vehicles.

In Oklahoma, two people were killed in Mayes County and six others were injured, the BBC reported, citing the local emergency management authority.

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Two deaths, including of a woman, found dead in her wrecked house, were reported in Arkansas, as per US media reports.

Police officials in Arkansas’s Rogers city said they had rescued several people who were trapped after tornadoes downed trees and power lines, and damaged gas supply lines.

The tornadoes also affected surface traffic across Texas, leaving lorries overturned and major highways shut, while the power supply was snapped as many poles were uprooted. Officials said that it could take days to restore services.

Parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee were at risk of severe weather on Sunday, after the havoc in the three states, as per reports.

–IANS

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Macron calls Franco-German ties 'indispensable' as state visit starts

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Emmanuel Macron began the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 24 years with warm words for his hosts.

“Franco-German relations are indispensable and important for Europe,” said Macron at the start of his three-day state visit to Germany on Sunday.

He rebuffed the suggestion that the relationship, often described as the engine of Europe, has begun to stutter.

“That is not true. We are moving forward,” Macron said through a translator.

Upon landing in Berlin, Macron immediately travelled to the German capital’s government quarter to meet with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attend a democracy-themed festival.

Steinmeier greeted Macron and called his visit “proof of the depth of the Franco-German friendship.”

He said that despite sometimes differing on individual policy points, Berlin and Paris always “come to an agreement in the end.”

“If Germany and France are in agreement, then there is still a lot that can be achieved in Europe,” he said.

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Macron also emphasized the importance of the European elections in June and called the EU a defender of democracy and common values.

–IANS/DPA

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Pro-Palestinian protesters shout down top German diplomat at forum

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Pro-Palestinian demonstrators angry at the German government’s handling of Israel’s war in Gaza disrupted a citizens’ forum featuring Germany’s foreign minister on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was participating in a discussion titled “Stormy times – how foreign policy ensures the security of our democracy” as part of weekend of events to celebrate the adoption of Germany’s constitution, known as the Basic Law, 75 years ago.

Several demonstrators in the theatre began shouting at Baerbock, accusing the German government of one-sidedness in the war and demanding that Berlin halt arms deliveries to Israel. Some held banners reading “Stop the genocide.”

Baerbock responded calmly at first, saying Germany was working to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians could live in peace.

But she clearly grew frustrated as the tumult in the theatre increased. “There are no threats here!” she shouted at one participant.

One protester who identified herself as an “anti-Zionist Jew” said that, when it came to the war, freedom of expression was being restricted in Germany. With Germany’s help, she said, Gaza was being reduced to “rubble and ashes.”

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At least eight participants were forced out of the venue by dpa’s count. In some cases, there were scuffles and physical altercations with security staff.

Baerbock asked security not to use any violence against the demonstrators. Meanwhile, large sections of the rest of the audience reacted to the protest with loud booing.

–IANS

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Tunisia's Saied reshuffles cabinet ahead of presidential election

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Cairo, May 26 (IANS/DPA) Tunisian President Kais Saied has reshuffled his cabinet, months before presidential elections in the north African country.

Saied appointed a new interior minister, secretary of state for national security and minister of social affairs, the state news agency TAP reported on Sunday. The Tunisian presidential office, cited in the report, did not give a reason for the new appointments.

Tunisia was the only country that emerged from the wave of uprisings known as the Arab Spring with a stable democracy.

However, Saied has systematically expanded his power since taking office in 2019. He has introduced a controversial new constitution, dissolved parliament and dismissed the prime minister.

A number of prominent critics of his regime, including judges and leading opposition politicians, have been arrested.

Amid further arrests this month alleged to be politically motivated, the human rights organization Amnesty International has denounced an “unprecedented repressive crackdown” on human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and migrants in the country.

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Demonstrators in Tunis recently demanded the release of activists and lawyers.

A date for this year’s presidential election has not yet been set but is expected in September or October. In view of government repression, however, there are significant doubts as to whether the election will be free and fair.

Despite Saied’s increasingly authoritarian leadership, the European Commission last year agreed to a controversial deal worth more than €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in aid for Tunis.

Around €67 million of the money was earmarked for controlling illegal migration. Tunisia is one of the main transit countries for refugees from Africa heading to Europe.

–IANS/DPA

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