Candidates in 2nd GOP debate attack each other and absentee Trump, who pokes fun at them in a separate event

Candidates in 2nd GOP debate attack each other and absentee Trump, who pokes fun at them in a separate event
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(From L) North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence attend the second Republican presidential primary debate in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023. (AFP)
Candidates in 2nd GOP debate attack each other and absentee Trump, who pokes fun at them in a separate event
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (C) looks on as entrepreneur former US Ambassador Nikki Haley (L) and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy clash during the second GOP primary debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 27, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 28 September 2023
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Candidates in 2nd GOP debate attack each other and absentee Trump, who pokes fun at them in a separate event

Candidates in 2nd GOP debate attack each other and absentee Trump, who pokes fun at them in a separate event
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called Trump "Donald Duck" for skipping the debate
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called on Trump to defend his adding $7.8 trillion to the debt, setting the stage for inflation

SIMI VALLEY, California: Donald Trump ‘s rivals laid into him repeatedly during the second presidential debate on Wednesday, ripping the former president for skipping the event as they sought to dent his commanding early lead in the Republican primary.

He should be on this stage tonight,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is attempting to establish himself as the leading Trump alternative despite recent struggles to break out from the rest of the back. “He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation we have now.”

Seven GOP candidates squared off at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California for an event hosted by Fox Business Network. Trump instead went to Michigan, delivering a prime-time speech that continued through the start of the debate — attempting to capitalize on the Auto Workers Union strike and trying to appeal to rank-and-file union members in a key state that could help decide the general election.
The debate came at a critical moment in the GOP campaign, with less than four months before the Iowa caucuses formally launch the presidential nomination process. Trump has continued to dominate the field, even as he faces a range of vulnerabilities, including four criminal indictments that raise the prospect of decades in prison.
Several of those onstage blistered Trump for not showing up. DeSantis said just a few minutes in that President Joe Biden was “completely missing in action from leadership. And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action.”
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has built his campaign around criticizing Trump, said the former president “hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions like all the rest of us are up here to answer.”
Trump, meanwhile, made only a passing mention of the debate during his lengthy speech, drawing boos when he said, “We’re competing with the job candidates” and poking fun at them for not drawing crowds as large as his. The former president’s competitors are running out of time to cut into his lead, increasing the sense of urgency among some to take him on more directly before an audience of millions.
That may be a tall order. Even hours before the event began in Simi Valley, about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, the first group of supporters for any campaign to arrive waved Trump flags and put up a banner reading “Trump, our last hope for America and the world.”
That underscored the former president’s continued influence at a debate he’s not attending. Trump also skipped the first debate last month in Milwaukee, where the participants criticized one another while mostly avoiding attacks on Trump. That wasn’t the case this time.
“Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” Christie said. “You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that, no one here’s going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”




Supporters of Donald Trump gather near the entrance to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California on September 27, 223, during the second GOP debate here which the former president did not attend. (AFP)

Former Vice President Mike Pence dismissively called Trump “my former running mate.”
Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, drew larger crowds and new interest after her first debate performance, and spoke at length about the Biden administration failing to secure the US-Mexico border during the second one. As she did in Milwaukee, she also got into it with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, suggesting that listening to him talk made those around him dumber.
After going on the offensive during the first debate, Ramaswamy tried to strike a softer stance Wednesday. He decried “personal attacks” among fellow Republicans, while also talking about his upbringing as the candidates discussed the autoworkers strike.
“My father stared down layoffs at GE under Jack Welch’s tenure at the GE plant in Evendale, Ohio,” Ramaswamy said. “My mom had to work overtime in nursing homes in southwest Ohio to make ends meet and pay off our home loan. So I understand that hardship is not a choice. But victimhood is a choice.”
But, in addition to Haley, he was sharply criticized by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, touching off an exchange where the two talked over each other and both became difficult to understand.
DeSantis also snipped at Ramaswamy and so did Pence, suggesting that he’d failed to vote in many past elections. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum steered clear of Ramaswamy, but repeatedly jumped in to answer questions he wasn’t asked to get himself more screen time in the debate’s early going.
Another Trump critic, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, failed to qualify after making the first debate. He too headed to suburban Detroit, saying, “Donald Trump is here in Detroit tonight because he wants to avoid a debate.”
Wednesday’s site was symbolic given that Reagan has long been a Republican icon whose words and key moments still shape GOP politics today. But in addition to fighting with the library’s leaders, Trump has reshaped the party and pushed it away from Reagan.
Biden was just up the coast in Northern California for fundraisers. His reelection campaign has mounted multiple days of counterprogramming in California, seeking to label Trump and followers of his Make America Great Again movement as too extreme. The state’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is a vocal public face of Biden’s reelection campaign and called the debate little more than entertainment for political junkies, given Trump’s sizable primary lead.
“This is a sideshow, by any objective measure,” Newsom told The Associated Press. “You’ve got a guy who’s the de facto incumbent.”
The debate, Newsom added, is “JV, XFL stuff.”
 


Al-Nassr Women discover opponents for prelim stage of first AFC Women’s Champions League

Al-Nassr Women discover opponents for prelim stage of first AFC Women’s Champions League
Updated 9 min 44 sec ago
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Al-Nassr Women discover opponents for prelim stage of first AFC Women’s Champions League

Al-Nassr Women discover opponents for prelim stage of first AFC Women’s Champions League
  • Saudi Arabia will host the preliminary stage of the tournament next month

RIYADH: Saudi champions Al-Nassr Women have been drawn against Myawady Women from Myanmar, the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Country Club and Young Elephants FC of Laos in the inaugural AFC Women’s Champions League.

Saudi Arabia will host the preliminary stage of the tournament next month, it was also confirmed on Thursday.

The first edition of the tournament will welcome the 21 domestic champions from AFC member associations, and the preliminary stage in the Kingdom — which will be played Aug. 25 to 31 — will feature 13 teams competing in four round-robin groups.

The winner of each will progress to the group stage, where eight top-seeded clubs await.

The Kingdom’s selection as hosts for the preliminary stage follows the successful hosting of the West Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship and the growth of the Women’s Premier League ahead of its third season.


PM Sharif directs Pakistan’s tax authority to bring ‘wealthy’ citizens into tax net

PM Sharif directs Pakistan’s tax authority to bring ‘wealthy’ citizens into tax net
Updated 46 min 33 sec ago
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PM Sharif directs Pakistan’s tax authority to bring ‘wealthy’ citizens into tax net

PM Sharif directs Pakistan’s tax authority to bring ‘wealthy’ citizens into tax net
  • Sharif chairs important meeting on reforms in Pakistan’s tax agency, Federal Board of Revenue
  • Pakistani PM says FBR reforms to enhance country’s revenue, says tax refund system will be improved

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday tasked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to increase its revenues by speeding up reforms, bringing “wealthy” people into the tax net and avoiding putting additional burden on the poor, as Islamabad seeks to enhance its revenues and avoid putting pressure on the poor. 
Pakistan last month passed a tax-heavy budget with an ambitious tax revenue target of 13 trillion rupees ($47 billion) for fiscal year 2025, a near 40 percent jump from the last fiscal year. The budget was instrumental in convincing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to enter into a $7 billion loan program with Pakistan. 
Pakistan’s opposition parties and government allies have criticized the tax-heavy budget, accusing authorities of overburdening the poor with taxes. PM Sharif’s government has vowed to carry out gradual fiscal consolidation, broaden Pakistan’s existing tax base and improve tax administration and debt sustainability while protecting the vulnerable.
The Pakistani prime minister chaired a meeting related to the FBR’s reforms and digitization in Islamabad on Thursday where he was informed that 4.9 million people who can afford taxes have been identified through modern technology. 
“The prime minister instructed to bring the wealthy and well-off people among these 4.9 million individuals to the tax net on a preferential basis and no additional burden should be put on the poor,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 
During the meeting, the Pakistani prime minister noted that the FBR had unearthed a fraud of Rs800 billion in tax refunds during the last four months, saying it reflected “positive results” by the authority. 
Sharif said the country’s tax refund system will be further improved, adding that reforms in the FBR can enhance the country’s revenue. 
“The Prime Minister said that the unnecessary delay in implementing several projects regarding the reforms in FBR is regrettable,” Radio Pakistan said. 
Sharif was told that the FBR’s trader-friendly mobile application has registered 150,000 retailers since April 1, 2024. He urged authorities to continue consultations with retailers to make this system more effective.


Netanyahu blocks minister’s order to build hospital for Gaza children

Palestinian children sit on the balcony of their house which was heavily damaged by Israeli bombardment.
Palestinian children sit on the balcony of their house which was heavily damaged by Israeli bombardment.
Updated 44 min 5 sec ago
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Netanyahu blocks minister’s order to build hospital for Gaza children

Palestinian children sit on the balcony of their house which was heavily damaged by Israeli bombardment.
  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced this week that he had ordered the building of a “temporary hospital” in Israel to treat sick children from Gaza
  • PM’s office announced suddenly on Thursday that Netanyahu “does not approve the establishment of a hospital for Gazans within Israeli territory”

JERUSALEM: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday overruled an order by his defense minister to build a field hospital in Israel to treat sick Gaza children, officials said.
The decision was a new sign of divisions within Netanyahu’s ruling coalition over its handling of the war in Gaza in the face of persistent international criticism of the high civilian toll.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced this week that he had ordered the building of a “temporary hospital” in Israel to treat sick children from Gaza.
Gallant discussed the project in a call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a government statement said Wednesday.
Reports said the hospital would be built close to Israel’s border with Gaza to help children suffering from cancer, diabetes and other illnesses who could not get treatment in the Palestinian territory.
But the prime minister’s office announced suddenly on Thursday that Netanyahu “does not approve the establishment of a hospital for Gazans within Israeli territory — therefore, it will not be established.”
An Israeli official told AFP the defense ministry first asked the prime minister’s office two weeks ago “to speed up the evacuation of patients, especially sick children,” from Gaza.
“No response was received, so the minister issued an order to the army to establish a field hospital within Israeli territory as an immediate solution for sick children.
“The prime minister canceled the order and, for political reasons, blocked a humanitarian solution,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Gallant and Netanyahu are longtime rivals. In March last year, the prime minister sacked his minister, a fomer general, after he spoke out against judicial reforms. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets and Netanyahu revoked his decision.


Body found, 9 men rescued in search for missing tanker crew off Oman

Body found, 9 men rescued in search for missing tanker crew off Oman
Updated 18 July 2024
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Body found, 9 men rescued in search for missing tanker crew off Oman

Body found, 9 men rescued in search for missing tanker crew off Oman
  • Six remaining crew from the Yemeni-bound and Comoros-flagged Prestige Falcon are still missing
  • Omani vessels and personnel, as well as an Indian Navy warship, joined the search

AL-MUKALLA: Nine crewmen from an oil tanker that capsized off Oman have been rescued and a body recovered, the Omani maritime agency said on Thursday.  

In a post on X, the Omani Marine Security Center said the rescued sailors, eight Indians and one Sri Lankan, are in “good health” and receiving medical attention.

Six remaining crew from the Yemeni-bound and Comoros-flagged Prestige Falcon are still missing after the tanker capsized 25 nautical miles southeast of Ras Madrakah, near the Omani port town of Duqm, on Monday.

“Search-and-rescue efforts are still ongoing to locate the remaining missing crew members,” the Omani center said.

Omani vessels and personnel, as well as an Indian Navy warship, joined the search.

The Omani Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology said in a statement on Wednesday that the Prestige Falcon “almost completely” sank, and that the cause of the incident is being investigated.

The ministry said that it has prioritized rescuing the missing crewmen, followed by righting the ship and dealing with any environmental hazards. 

This comes as Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi repeated threats on Thursday to continue attacks in the busy shipping lanes despite a recent strike that resulted in an oil spill in the Red Sea.

Al-Houthi said that 25 ballistic missiles, drones, and drone boats have been launched at ships in the past seven days alone.

He claimed that the militia attacks on 170 ships since November have left the Israeli port of Eilat facing bankruptcy, and forced the US aircraft carrier Eisenhower to “flee” the Red Sea.

“Operations at sea have a significant influence on American commercial activity, the economic position in America and Britain, and the Israeli enemy,” Al-Houthi said.

Environmentalists say that a leak from a tanker targeted by the Houthis in the Red Sea has resulted in a 200 km slick moving south, threatening the area’s already fragile ecosystem.

Wim Zwijnenburg, of the Humanitarian Disarmament Project at Dutch peace organization PAX, told Arab News that diesel from the ship’s engine is spreading to a marine conservation area near Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Island and Eritrea’s Dahlak archipelago.

“The Red Sea is home to various protected species, including turtles, sharks, and fish such as the coral grouper. But there are also indications that both pollution and climate change are affecting coastal fishing communities and coral reefs,” he said.

“This conflict-linked oil spill is just a sad continuation of further degradation of the unique ecosystems in the Red Sea.”

On Monday, a Houthi drone boat struck and damaged the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Chios Lion northwest of Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah.

Since November, the Houthis have attacked ships in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian Ocean, claiming to be acting in support of the Palestinian people and to force Israel to cease its war in Gaza.

In response, the US launched retaliatory strikes on Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and branded the militia a terrorist group.

Houthi media said on Thursday that US and UK forces carried out three airstrikes on Hodeidah city airport in the western province of Hodeidah.


Pakistani religious party vows to continue pro-Palestine sit-in protest until demands are met

Pakistani religious party vows to continue pro-Palestine sit-in protest until demands are met
Updated 18 July 2024
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Pakistani religious party vows to continue pro-Palestine sit-in protest until demands are met

Pakistani religious party vows to continue pro-Palestine sit-in protest until demands are met
  • Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters remain camped at Faizabad Interchange connecting Islamabad, Rawalpindi since last week 
  • TLP protesters demand Pakistan government officially boycott Israeli products, send aid to Gaza and declare Israeli PM a “terrorist”

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani religious party on Thursday vowed to continue its large pro-Palestine sit-in protest at a key junction connecting the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi until its demands are not met, as residents suffer traffic disruption. 
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), known for its hard-line stance on blasphemy laws, has previously staged sit-ins at the Faizabad Interchange. The presence of large numbers of protesters in the area significantly disrupts traffic, forcing drivers to take longer, alternative routes between the two cities.
The TLP workers, led by their young leader Saad Rizvi, took out a protest rally from Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi to Faizabad last Saturday before deciding to set up a protest camp at the interchange.
The TLP has asked the government to officially boycott Israeli products and send food and medical aid to Palestinians suffering Israel’s relentless military campaign in Gaza. They have also called on Pakistan’s government to declare Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist.”
“We are engaged with the government regarding our demands for the people of Palestine but no agreement has been reached yet,” Sajjad Saifi, a member of the TLP’s Shoura or consultative council, told Arab News over the phone.
“We will continue our dharna [sit-in] till all three of our demands are fully met.”
Saifi said TLP chief Rizvi was leading the party’s protest, adding that over 50,000 of their supporters were camped at the Faizabad Interchange. 
“If the government accepts our demands, it will earn a huge respect in the Muslim world,” he said.
Israel’s war on Gaza has so far claimed at least 39,000 lives, many of them women and children. The casualties have sparked anger and protests worldwide, including in Pakistan, where the country’s civil society and political factions have consistently led pro-Palestine rallies. 
When asked why the party decided to stage a sit-in protest nine months into the war, Saifi said the TLP had mobilized the public since October last year through rallies across Pakistan. 
 “Tens of thousands of our supporters have been waiting for the leadership’s call to join the dharna in Islamabad,” he said. 
“We are doing it for a cause, for the people of Palestine. We don’t have any political agenda to achieve through this dharna.”
The large number of protesters at the Faizabad Interchange have effectively blocked the Islamabad Expressway, causing difficulty for commuters and creating gridlocks in the area.
When asked about the protest and the inconvenience being caused to the public, Information Minister Attaullah Tara said: 
“Don’t worry, we are on it.”
‘STATE HAS SURRENDERED’
Political analysts called on the government to initiate strict action against the outfit to disperse them from the interchange. 
“Freedom of movement is a basic right of the public, therefore the government and the Supreme Court should take notice of the dharna and initiate measures to disperse the protesters,” political analyst Adnan Rehmat told Arab News. 
“If the government fails to initiate action against the TLP, it clearly means the state has surrendered before the outfit that doesn’t believe in any law and the constitution.”
Political science professor Rasul Bakhsh Rais agreed. 
“There is no rationale behind the TLP’s sit-in as Pakistan has already dispatched food and medicines to the people of Gaza,” Rais told Arab News. “It is unfortunate the government is silent over the mess and taking no steps to disperse them.”