Trump, DeSantis and other 2024 GOP candidates set to address Iowa Republicans at Lincoln Day Dinner

Trump, DeSantis and other 2024 GOP candidates set to address Iowa Republicans at Lincoln Day Dinner
Former president Donald Trump is bracing to soon be charged in Washington over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. (AFP)
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Updated 28 July 2023
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Trump, DeSantis and other 2024 GOP candidates set to address Iowa Republicans at Lincoln Day Dinner

Trump, DeSantis and other 2024 GOP candidates set to address Iowa Republicans at Lincoln Day Dinner
  • Former president making a rare appearance with the rest of the field at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser
  • Ron DeSantis, Trump’s strongest rival in the field, has been trying to reset his stalled campaign for two weeks

ANKENY, Iowa: Donald Trump and rival Ron DeSantis will appear for the first time at the same campaign event in early voting Iowa on Friday at a pivotal moment for the Republican presidential candidates.
Trump, the early front-runner for the 2024 GOP nomination, is making a rare appearance with the rest of the field at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser a day after he was charged with additional counts over his retention of classified documents after leaving office. He is also bracing to soon be charged in Washington over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump has typically avoided attending events that put him in the lineup with the rest of the crowded field and has questioned why he should share the stage with his trailing rivals.
But with Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses less than six months away, Trump and a dozen other GOP hopefuls are taking advantage of the chance to speak to about 1,200 GOP members and activists at Friday’s Lincoln Day Dinner.
DeSantis, Trump’s strongest rival in the field, has been trying to reset his stalled campaign for two weeks. He returned on Thursday to Iowa, where his campaign is increasingly focusing its efforts on trying to derail Trump.
DeSantis’ stumbles have raised questions about whether another candidate might be able to emerge from the crowded field and catch the former president. Some evangelicals, who play a determinative role in the state’s caucuses, have pointed to South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s upbeat message and pulpit-style delivery as strengths that could help him rise there.
Scott held a town hall Thursday night in Ankeny with Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and a crowd of a few hundred people, many of whom were forced to stand in the corners of the room. He drew laughs, head nods and amens, and the senator took about a dozen questions.
Many in the room said they were impressed with his positions and his positive outlook, even if they aren’t sure yet who they’ll support.
“There’s nothing negative coming out of this guy,” said Tony Vola, 76, of Saylor Township, a suburb of Des Moines. He said Scott knows his stuff and has a “fantastic” personality. “My God, he’s a real guy.”
DeSantis, who has pledged to eventually visit all of Iowa’s 99 counties, started a two-day bus tour Thursday organized by a super PAC supporting his run.
“No one will outwork Ron DeSantis in the Hawkeye State, and he is just getting started,” campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said in a statement.
But it comes amid fresh questions about his strategy and path forward.
After his fundraising reports showed him burning through donations, the governor cut more than a third of his campaign staff. One of the laid-off aides had shared a video featuring DeSantis’ face superimposed on a symbol embraced by the Nazis, a development first reported by Semafor.
His cash crunch seems to be driving the campaign to rely even more on the efforts of the super PAC, Never Back Down, to take up the work typically done by campaign staff.
Super PACs can receive unlimited sums from donors but are barred under federal rules from donating to candidates or coordinating with campaigns on how their money is spent.
While presidential campaigns have been supplemented before by the work of super PACs, which frequently use deeper coffers to run expensive television ads, the work Never Back Down has done to promote DeSantis has been more expansive.
The organization has been working to organize on the ground, including lining up caucus supporters for DeSantis. And while candidates before him have appeared at events put on by super PACs, DeSantis is embarking on the bus tour as the PAC’s “special guest.”
Never Back Down is also hosting a reception immediately after Friday’s dinner for DeSantis supporters, a task that other campaigns are taking on themselves.
Both the DeSantis campaign and Never Back Down defended the arrangement when asked how it complies with federal rules.
“We will continue to use our resources wisely by accepting special guest invitations to ensure Ron DeSantis is in the strongest position to win this primary and defeat the Harris-Biden administration,” Romeo, the DeSantis campaign spokesperson, said.
Jess Szymanski, a spokesperson for Never Back Down, said, “There are decades of precedent for Super PACs to host candidates and others as special guests at events.”
DeSantis has in recent days also been defending Florida’s new public school curriculum on Black history, which requires teachers to instruct middle school students that enslaved people “developed skills which, in some instances, could be applied for their personal benefit.”
DeSantis has faced criticism from teachers and civil rights leaders and got into a public dispute with Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, a Black Republican congressman who said he had a problem with that part of the curriculum.
“I’d ask all my colleagues in Florida: Stand up for your state,” DeSantis said in an interview Thursday with CBS News. “Don’t side with Kamala Harris.”
Harris, too, will be in Iowa on Friday, seeking to draw a contrast with the Republicans. The Democratic vice president is scheduled to meet in Des Moines with activists and discuss abortion rights. Reynolds recently signed a ban on most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. A judge has temporarily blocked the law but the Iowa Supreme Court will consider the governor’s request to put it back in effect.


Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
Updated 17 April 2024
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Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
  • Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year

TUNIS: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with officials in Tunis Wednesday to discuss what she called a “new approach” to irregular migration and economic cooperation with Tunisia.
The hard-right leader’s visit, the fourth in less than a year to the north African country, came as her government pledged to curb irregular migrant arrivals in Italy.
Meloni met with President Kais Saied, who said after the meeting Tunisia must not become “a country of transit or settlement” for migrants from other African countries, according to a statement from his office.
In a video address released after her discussions with Saied, Meloni also said “Tunisia cannot be a country of arrival for migrants” from the rest of Africa.
She vowed to “involve international organizations to work on repatriations” of migrants while insisting on more European investment in African nations.
Ahead of the visit, an Italian official had told AFP that “cooperation on migration remains a central aspect of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia.”
“It remains essential that Tunisian authorities continue their action to combat human trafficking and contain illegal departures,” the official added.
Meloni’s latest visit to Tunisia came as part of her so-called Mattei Plan, a program aiming to posit Italy as a key bridge between Africa and Europe.
She said the fight against irregular migration required development for African countries and investments.
“Italy will continue to try to advance this new approach which it is promoting at a European level,” she said.
But critics say the plan would funnel energy north while exchanging investment in the south for deals aimed at curbing migration.
Three agreements were signed Wednesday: a 50-million-euro ($53-million) aid for energy projects, credit for small- and medium-sized businesses, and a university cooperation agreement.
Meloni also said Italy would encourage regular migration by granting 12,000 residence permits to Tunisians trained in specific fields.
Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year, with Italy as a frontline for their arrivals.
Almost 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy last year, according to Tunisian authorities.
Meloni visited Tunisia three times over the summer of 2023, twice with the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The visits resulted in the European Union’s signing of an agreement in July to provide financial aid to debt-ridden Tunisia in return for its commitment to curb migrant departures.
The agreement provided 105 million euros to curb irregular migration — which the EU has started paying — added to 150 million euros in budgetary support.
European Parliament lawmakers criticized the agreement, citing a deterioration of human rights and freedoms in the north African country.
They also criticized Saied’s increasing authoritarian rule after his sweeping power grab in 2021.
Last month, the EU signed a similar deal with Egypt worth 7.4 billion euros on energy and migration.


Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
Updated 17 April 2024
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Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
  • 'Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,' No Tech For Apartheid group said

LONDON: Several Google employees were arrested on Tuesday for taking part in a 10-hour sit-in at the company’s offices in New York and California.

The protest, organized by members of the No Tech For Apartheid movement, was meant as a challenge to the tech giant’s involvement with the Israeli government. It centered on a $1 billion cloud computing contract between Google, Amazon and the Israeli government and military, known as Project Nimbus.

The project involves creating a secure Google cloud setup in Israel to facilitate data analysis, AI training and other computing services, Time magazine reported.

According to leaked documents reported by American news organization Intercept in 2022, the project includes advanced features like AI-enabled facial detection and automated image categorization.

During the sit-in, a livestreamed video captured a security worker telling protesters at Google’s California office that they were on administrative leave and cautioned them about trespassing.

Social media videos showed police removing nine protesters from the premises. Similar actions were recorded at the company’s New York office.

A statement from the No Tech For Apartheid group said: “Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. The time is now to rise up against Project Nimbus, in support of Palestinian liberation and join calls to end the Israeli occupation.”

Last month, a Google employee from the group interrupted a talk by the company’s Israel chief, accusing the company of “powering genocide.” He was later fired.

A Google spokesman told the Telegraph: “These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and we will investigate and take action.

“These employees were put on administrative leave and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”


Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
Updated 17 April 2024
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Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
  • Abbkr has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits

LONDON: A man convicted of attempted murder after deliberately setting fire to two elderly men shortly after they left mosques in the UK was on Wednesday handed an indefinite hospital order.
Mohammed Abbkr, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, deliberately set fire to Hashi Odowa, 82, and Mohammed Rayaz, 70, in February and March last year.
Abbkr, originally from Sudan, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder last year at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.
Judge Melbourne Inman told Abbkr, who has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits: “You threw petrol over your victims and then set them alight — the attacks were horrific.”
“The two victims in this case were, on any rational view, chosen at random,” the judge told Abbkr, who watched the proceedings by video-link from Ashworth high security hospital in northwest England.
“You, however, genuinely believed each of them was one of those trying to take control of you.
“I am wholly satisfied that you committed both of these offenses at a time when you were suffering a severe mental illness.”
Abbkr sprayed petrol on the two men outside or near mosques they had attended and then set them alight. The attacks took place in west London on February 27 and Birmingham on March 20.
Odowa, who was attacked in London, was treated for severe burns to his face and arms. The Birmingham attack left Rayaz hospitalized with severe injuries.


70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
Updated 17 April 2024
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70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
  • Rains between Saturday and Wednesday triggered flash floods in most Afghanistan provinces
  • Fifty-six people injured, over 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed, says Afghan official 

KABUL: Around 70 people have been killed by heavy rains lashing Afghanistan over the past five days, the government’s disaster management department said Wednesday.
Afghanistan was parched by an unusually dry winter which desiccated the earth, exacerbating flash-flooding caused by spring downpours in most provinces.
Disaster management spokesman Janan Sayeq said “approximately 70 people lost their lives” as a result of rains between Saturday and Wednesday.
Fifty-six others have been injured, he said, while more than 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 95,000 acres of farmland wiped away.
Giving a smaller death toll last week, Sayeq said most fatalities at that point had been caused by roof collapses resulting from the deluges. 
Neighbouring Pakistan has also been hammered by spring downpours, with 65 people killed in storm-related incidents as rain falls at nearly twice the historical average rate.
The United Nations last year warned that “Afghanistan is experiencing major swings in extreme weather conditions.”
After four decades of war the country ranks among the nations least prepared to face extreme weather events, which scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.
At least 25 people were killed in a landslide after massive snowfall in eastern Afghanistan in February, while around 60 were killed in a three-week spate of precipitation ending in March.


President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
Updated 17 April 2024
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President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
  • Country has ‘endless’ investment ability, Tim Cook says on visit to Jakarta
  • Tech giant announces opening of new Apple Developer Academy in Bali

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday met the head of tech giant Apple and urged him to open a manufacturing facility in the country.

CEO Tim Cook was in Jakarta following a trip to Hanoi, where the company announced plans to increase spending on suppliers in Vietnam, its most important manufacturing hub outside China.

Before the meeting between Widodo and Cook, Apple announced plans to boost its investment in Indonesia and said it would open a new Apple Developer Academy — facilities designed to nurture local talent in the tech sector — in Bali, its fourth in the country.

“The meeting with Tim Cook focused on exploring strategic plans, including the opportunity of Apple expanding to Indonesia and further integration into the global supply chain,” Widodo said in a statement.

“I invited Apple to establish an innovation hub with potential universities in Indonesia for human resources development. I also urged Apple to develop a manufacturing facility in the country.”

Apple currently does not have a manufacturing facility in Indonesia but opened its first developer academy there in 2018.

The new facility takes the company’s total investment in Indonesia to 1.6 trillion rupiah ($98.4 million), according to Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita.

“After this, the Ministry of Industry will conduct a business-matching program. We already have a list of the components (that Apple needs) and mobile components that are already produced in Indonesia, so perhaps there can be a partnership,” he said.

Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, Airpods and Apple Watches in Vietnam, and more recently India, as it explores ways to diversify its supply chains away from China.

Home to more than 270 million people, Indonesia has a young, tech-savvy population with more than 100 million people aged under 30.

According to figures from Statista, as of January, Apple had an 11.5 percent share of Indonesia’s mobile phone market, behind Oppo (18 percent) and Samsung (17 percent).

“We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country and it’s something that we will look at,” Cook told reporters after meeting Widodo.

“I thought we had a great conversation and I really appreciated the time with him. It was a dialogue about how much potential there is in the country and our commitment to the country.”

Cook later met president-elect, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who will take over from Widodo in October.

“I think the investment ability in Indonesia is endless, I think that there’s a lot of great places to invest and we’re investing,” Cook said. “We believe in the country.”