At UN, diplomats are watching candidate Nikki Haley

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney listen as US President Donald Trump holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, US, January 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 13 January 2018
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At UN, diplomats are watching candidate Nikki Haley

UNITED NATIONS: One year into the job, Nikki Haley stands out as the star of President Donald Trump’s administration, and diplomats say the UN ambassador is directing some of that star power into a likely White House bid.
Speculation about Haley’s presidential ambitious has picked up since she defended Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, staring down friends and foes alike at the world body.
The 45-year-old Republican resorted to a veto to block criticism from the UN Security Council and threatened reprisals against those who voted against Washington at the General Assembly.
The clash gave UN ambassadors a reality check: Haley, they say, is a politician, not a diplomat, and at the United Nations, she is playing to a domestic audience.
“She is not trying to win votes at the General Assembly. She is trying to win votes for 2020 or 2024,” a council diplomat said. “She is clearly using this position to run for something, that’s obvious.”
The former South Carolina governor arrived at the United Nations last year, promising a “new day” under Trump’s America First policy and vowing to “take names” of countries that don’t toe the line.
Seen at the outset as a foreign policy lightweight, Haley was quickly taken seriously because of her close ties to the unpredictable Trump.
Over the past year, she has pushed through three new sets of sanctions against North Korea, bringing China and Russia on side to tackle what Trump sees as his administration’s number one security threat.
Those sanctions won the unanimous backing of the council, where finding common ground with Haley is testing diplomatic skills.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley is hawkish on Iran, fiercely pro-Israel and a strong advocate of cost-cutting at the United Nations.
That those three signature issues play well with the US Republican voter base is not lost on most diplomats.
“What matters above all are perceptions internally, in the US,” said another council diplomat, who like many declined to be quoted.
Haley was among the first administration officials to take a hard line on Russia, declaring that sanctions over Crimea would remain in place until Moscow gave the territory back to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko, who just wrapped up a two-year stint at the Security Council, says Haley is doing an “excellent job.”
“She may be less diplomatic sometimes than some could expect, but this is more an asset than a shortcoming,” he said.
For months, Haley had been tipped as a possible replacement to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whom she has upstaged with her media appearances and statements that at times appear to break new ground.
In October, she put that speculation to rest, telling reporters that she wasn’t interested.
“I would not take it,” Haley told reporters on a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I want to be where I’m most effective.”
She is seen as a possible vice president to Mike Pence, should he take over the presidency.
Author Michael Wolff, whose book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” has become a national sensation, claims Haley has set her sights higher and is eyeing the presidency.
According to published excerpts, Haley began positioning herself as Trump’s heir after concluding in October that he was a one-term president.
Wolff quoted a senior White House staffer who described her “as ambitious as Lucifer” and another who offered the view that while being groomed by Trump, “she is so much smarter than him.”
Haley has brushed aside questions about her political ambitious, saying she is focused on the job at hand as she remains firmly in the limelight as the UN’s most-watched ambassador.


Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

Updated 24 June 2018
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Police: 25 injured in building explosion in Germany

  • Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal
  • Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic

BERLIN: Twenty-five people were injured, four of them severely, when an explosion destroyed an apartment building in the western German city of Wuppertal, police said Sunday.
Police said the explosion rocked the several-story building shortly before midnight Saturday with a large bang, scaring people in surrounding homes so much they ran out into the street in a panic. The detonation was so severe it destroyed the building’s attic and the top three floors, the German news agency dpa reported.
Fire then broke out in several different parts of the apartment building and firefighters had trouble dousing the flames because parts of the building kept collapsing. They were able to rescue four severely injured from inside the building and sent them to the hospital. Another 21 people were slightly injured and treated by emergency staff at the scene.
Police said Sunday they were still trying to get the fire under control and were investigating the cause of the explosion. They would not comment when asked if the explosion could possibly be terror-related.
A car nearby was destroyed, buried under window frames that were blown onto it by the impact of the explosion. Emergency personnel on Sunday picked up bricks and furniture on the street from the explosion.
Some of the building’s roof beams stood black and eerie in the smoke as police scoured accessible parts of the building for further people trapped inside before giving the all-clear.
The place where the building stood is now a huge gap in a row of apartment buildings in the city’s Langerfeld neighborhood.