In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 

Special In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 
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Politics in the Gujrat district has revolved around the cousin duo of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, above, for the last four decades. (AN Photo)
Special In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 
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Politics in the Gujrat district has revolved around the cousin duo of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for the last four decades. (AN Photo)
Special In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 
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Politics in the Gujrat district has revolved around the cousin duo of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for the last four decades. (AN Photo)
Special In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 
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Politics in the Gujrat district has revolved around the cousin duo of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for the last four decades. (AN Photo)
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Updated 06 February 2024
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In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 

In Pakistan’s Gujrat, two Chaudhrys in bare-knuckle election fight after family feud 
  • Ex-PM Khan’s party is backing Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s group, while Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has support from Sharif’s PML-N
  • Many independent observers seeing the contest as a test of support for the embattled ex-PM Khan against the all-powerful military

GUJRAT: In Pakistan, bitter electoral contests between blood relatives, fellow tribesmen and traditional rivals are the hallmark of any election.

But this election season, all eyes are on a bare-knuckle battle between two stalwarts of the powerful and hard-nosed Chaudhry clan, an influential political family from Punjab province, the country’s most populous, which has split in its support for two of the main contenders of Pakistani politics: three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif and former cricketing hero and now jailed ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Politics in the Gujrat district, located between the famous Jhelum and Chenab rivers, an area that once formed part of the Paurava kingdom of King Porus, has revolved around the cousin duo of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for the last four decades. 

Both are now leading opposing campaigns for the National Assembly constituency, NA-64, in Gujrat, once the fort of the united Chaudhry clan, with many independent observers seeing the contest as a test of support for the embattled ex-PM Khan against the all-powerful military, the ultimate wielder of power in Pakistani politics. 

Suhail Warraich, a prominent political analyst and journalist who has covered Punjab politics for almost three decades, said the Feb. 8 elections in NA-64 would be a “do-or-die” case for the two Chaudhry family groups.

“Currently, the politics of Punjab is based on a pro-PTI and anti-PTI vote bank,” Warraich told Arab News, referring to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of ex-PM Khan. 

“The current election is a do-or-die scenario for both factions as each is determined to secure victory and garner the support of the Chaudhry family’s traditional voters. The outcome will significantly enhance the winner’s influence and presence in this constituency.”

The Chaudhry cousins were initially part of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz but split from the party over political differences after the 1997 general elections.

The family, led by Hussain, openly supported the 1999 military coup by Gen. Pervez Musharraf against the then Sharif government. In 2002, Hussain and Elahi launched their own party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, which later became an integral part of the Musharraf government and appointed its own prime minister, Shaukat Aziz.

Over the next two decades, the PML-Q, widely seen as a key political operative for Musharraf and a “king’s party” in Pakistani politics, often helped make or break governments in the South Asian country with its limited, yet decisive number of seats in the national and provincial assemblies.

But the decades-long partnership between the two Chaudhrys ended in 2022, when Elahi decided to back Khan in a parliamentary vote of no confidence in which he was ousted from the prime minister’s office. Hussain, on the other hand, chose to side with Khan’s opponents, including Sharif’s PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party of the Bhutto political dynasty, whose alliance formed the government at the center after Khan was removed. 

The tussle between the two Chaudhrys reached its crescendo in July 2022 when Hussain attempted to block Elahi from becoming the chief minister of Punjab by asking the PML-Q provincial lawmakers not to vote for his cousin in the CM’s election.

After this, Elahi formally bid farewell to the PML-Q and joined Khan’s PTI party as its president. Although the two Chaudhrys have not spoken against each other publicly since, their sons often trade barbs online and at public meetings.

Elahi has been in jail since June 2023 on a raft of charges, and his American-educated son Moonis Elahi, living in exile since Dec. 2023, has been disqualified from contesting elections. In their absence, the PTI is backing Elahi’s wife, Qaisra, and her sister, Sumaira, who stepped into electoral politics on behalf of the father-son duo.

Qaisra is contesting the elections as a PTI-backed independent candidate from NA-64 against her nephew and Hussain’s son, Salik, who is contesting as a PML-Q candidate and enjoys the support of the PML-N. Sumaira, who is also backed by Khan’s PTI, is vying for the provincial assembly seat, PP-34, in Gujrat.

“Mentally, we both sisters were not ready to become (members of a provincial or national assembly). This journey unfolded because Moonis (Elahi) is out of the country, and Pervez (Elahi) Sahib is in jail,” Sumaira told Arab News in an interview in Gujrat.

“From the beginning, our position has been that our involvement in these elections is solely because of them and these seats belong to them. And after winning, these seats will be for them.”

But with Elahi in jail and Moonis in exile, what has been the impact on their vote bank? 

“There is no impact on the vote bank. The vote bank, in fact, has increased,” Sumaira said.
“Initially, we didn’t have this many votes before (joining) PTI. We had our own voters, Pervaiz had his own, Moonis had his own voters. But after (Elahi) joined PTI, our votes have increased.”

Sumaira believes Elahi parting ways with Hussain and standing staunchly by Khan has earned him the respect of PTI supporters.

“PTI supporters are backing us the way they are doing for Imran Khan because they see how Pervaiz Elahi is firmly supporting Imran Khan. Thus, they are supporting us,” Sumaira added. 

“On the ground, the way people are supporting us now, we didn’t have it before.”

Khan himself was convicted on graft charges and jailed last August. This month, he received three additional jail terms of 10, 14 and seven years each in three different cases. He is also disqualified from running for public office for 10 years.

In Gujrat, the current election fight between the Chaudhrys has included charges of armed intimidation while the threat of violence and the suspicion of rigging hang thick in the air. In past elections, the united Chaudhrys have often been accused of using private family militia and the Punjab police to intimidate voters and opponents. 

Like many other PTI-backed candidates, Sumaira also complained of what she described as “coercive actions” by the state machinery to stop her family from electioneering in Gujrat.

“In Gujarat city, you won’t see our gatherings or meetings,” she said. “We can’t hold a corner meeting because if anyone plans to host our meeting, they start intimidating him.”

When asked who was behind the harassment campaign, she blamed the caretaker Punjab government. 

“People often bring the (military) establishment into the discourse, but I doubt their involvement at this lower level,” Sumaira said. She also blamed her opponent and nephew Salik, the son of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, for the “mess” her part of the family was facing.

Speaking to Arab News, Salik denied involvement in any mistreatment of his aunts and blamed the Chaudhry family split on the “egoistic behavior” of some of its members, particularly Elahi’s son Moonis.

“Moonis Elahi’s primary concern is what will happen to his political career if Salik Hussain wins the election here in Gujrat,” Salik said. 

In an interview with a local TV channel, Salik said he had never had a problem with his cousin Moonis being the heir to the political throne, but “if he wanted to be the bigger one in the family, then he should have acted like the bigger one.”

He told senior journalist Jugnu Mohson: “There is no fundamental issue between the two families, it’s a problem of egos.

“Tolerance with one another could patch up the two families,” he added.

However, when asked by Arab News if there was a chance the family could reunite after elections, Salik told Arab News it was unlikely as electoral politics was not the “bone of contention” between the two groups but the fact that Elahi and Moonis always “wanted to make decisions” and wanted others to obey them without question.

“My opposition isn’t driven by personal gain,” Salik insisted, saying Elahi would regret his decision to back Khan. 

“What have they gained from this entire political game? A leader like Imran Khan, and they are not even in his good books.”

Warraich, the analyst, agreed that it was unlikely the two groups would reunite after the Feb. 8 elections.

“Since Pervaiz Elahi has served time in jail and faced challenging times,” he said, “it is likely that instead of striking a deal with Shujaat Hussain after the elections, he would prefer to continue aligning with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.”


UN says world population to peak at 10.3 billion in 2080s

UN says world population to peak at 10.3 billion in 2080s
Updated 13 July 2024
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UN says world population to peak at 10.3 billion in 2080s

UN says world population to peak at 10.3 billion in 2080s
  • A quarter of world’s population now lives in one of 63 countries where the population has already peaked
  • Nearly 50 other countries should join that group over the next 30 years, including Brazil, Iran and Turkiye

NEW YORK: Earth’s population will peak in the mid-2080s at around 10.3 billion people, then drop slightly to a level much lower than anticipated a decade ago, the United Nations said.
The current population of 8.2 billion people will rise to that maximum over the next 60 years, then dip to 10.2 billion by the end of the century, says a report released Thursday entitled “World Population Prospects 2024.”
It said the size of the world’s population in 2100 will be six percent lower, or 700 million people fewer, than what was anticipated in June 2013.
“The demographic landscape has evolved greatly in recent years,” said Li Junhua, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.
He said the unexpected population peak stems from several factors that include lower levels of fertility in some of the world’s largest countries, especially China.
He said this lower maximum will also come earlier than previously calculated and this is a hopeful sign as the world fights global warming: fewer humans accounting for less aggregate consumption would mean less pressure on the environment.
“However, slower population growth will not eliminate the need to reduce the average impact attributable to the activities of each individual person,” this official said.
More than a quarter, or 28 percent, of the world’s population now lives in one of 63 countries or areas where the population has already peaked, including China, Russia, Japan and Germany, the report said.
Nearly 50 other countries should join that group over the next 30 years, including Brazil, Iran and Turkiye.
But population growth will continue in more than 120 countries beyond 2054. These include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and the United States, said the UN.
A rise in global life expectancy — interrupted by the Covid pandemic — has resumed, with an average of 73.3 years of longevity in 2024. It will average 77.4 years in 2054.
So the world’s population will get more and more gray. By the late 2070s, the number of people 65 or older is projected to be 2.2 billion, surpassing those under 18, the study predicts.


Son of Asia’s richest man marries in year’s most extravagant wedding

Son of Asia’s richest man marries in year’s most extravagant wedding
Updated 13 July 2024
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Son of Asia’s richest man marries in year’s most extravagant wedding

Son of Asia’s richest man marries in year’s most extravagant wedding
  • The celebrations of Anant Ambani marrying Radhika Merchant took place at Ambani-owned Jio World Convention Center in Mumbai
  • The marriage culminated months of wedding events that featured performances by pop stars including Rihanna and Justin Bieber

MUMBAI: The youngest son of Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, married his longtime girlfriend early Saturday in what many dubbed the wedding of the year attended by global celebrities, business tycoons and politicians, highlighting the billionaire’s staggering wealth and rising clout.
The wedding rituals, including exchanging garlands by the couple and walking around the sacred fire, began Friday and were completed past midnight.
The celebrations of Anant Ambani marrying Radhika Merchant took place at the Ambani-owned Jio World Convention Center in Mumbai and the family home. The marriage culminated months of wedding events that featured performances by pop stars including Rihanna and Justin Bieber.

Hollywood actor John Cena poses as he arrives to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire Mukesh Ambani's son Anant Ambani and fiancee Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024. (AFP)

The four-day wedding celebrations, which began on Friday with the traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, will be followed by a grand reception that will run through the weekend. The guest list included former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Boris Johnson, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser, Adele, Lana Del Rey, Drake and David Beckham, according to local media. The Ambani family did not confirm the guest list.
Television news channels showed celebrities like Kim Kardashian in a red ensemble and professional wrestler and Hollywood actor John Cena arriving.
International guests also wore traditional dresses by major Indian fashion designers. They put on embroidered “sherwanis,” a long-sleeved outer coat worn by men in South Asia. Cena came in sky blue sherwani and white pants. Nick Jonas wore a pink sherwani and white pants.

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas (L) and her husband American singer-songwriter and actor Nick Jonas (R) pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani's son Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024. (AFP)

Police imposed traffic diversions around the wedding venue from Friday to Monday to handle the influx of guests who flew to Mumbai, where heavy monsoon rains have caused flooding and flight disruptions for the past week.
The extravaganza and the display of opulence that comes with the wedding has led many to raise questions about rising inequality in India, where the gap between rich and poor is growing. The event has also sparked anger among some Mumbai residents, who say they are struggling with snarled traffic.

Billionaire tycoon and Chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani (C) with his wife Nita Ambani (3R), daughter Isha Ambani (2R), sons Akash Ambani (L) and Anant Ambani (C, left), daughter-in-law Shloka Mehta (2L), and son-in-law Anand Piramal pose for photos as they arrive to attend the wedding ceremony of Anant and Radhika Merchant in Mumbai on July 12, 2024. (AFP)


“It affects our earnings. I don’t care much about the wedding,” said Vikram, a taxi driver who uses only his first name.
The father of the groom, Mukesh Ambani, is the world’s ninth richest man, with a net worth of $116 billion, according to Forbes. He is the richest person in Asia. His Reliance Industries is a conglomerate reporting over $100 billion in annual revenue, with interests that include petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecoms and retail.
The Ambani family owns, among other assets, a 27-story family compound in Mumbai worth $1 billion. The building contains three helipads, a 160-car garage and a private movie theater.
The groom, Anant, 29, oversees the conglomerate’s renewable and green energy expansion. He also runs a 3,000-acre (about 1,200-hectare) animal rescue center in Gujarat state’s Jamnagar, the family’s hometown.
The bride, Radhika Merchant, also 29, is the daughter of pharmaceutical tycoon Viren Merchant and is the marketing director for his company, Encore Healthcare, according to Vogue.
Ambani’s critics say his company has relied on political connections during Congress party-led governments in the 1970s and ‘80s and under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule after 2014.
The Ambani family’s pre-wedding celebrations have been lavish and star-studded.
In March, they threw a three-day prenuptial bash for Anant that had 1,200 guests, including former world leaders, tech tycoons and Bollywood megastars, and performances by Rihanna, Akon and Diljit Dosanjh, a Punjabi singer who shot to international fame when he performed at Coachella. The event was also attended by tech billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.
It was the start of lavish monthslong pre-wedding celebrations that have grabbed headlines and set off a social media frenzy.
In May, the family took guests on a three-day cruise from Italy to France, which included Katy Perry singing her hit song “Firework” and a performance by Pitbull, according to media reports.
The family also organized a mass wedding for more than 50 underprivileged couples on July 2 as part of the celebrations.
Last week, Justin Bieber performed for hundreds of guests at a pre-wedding concert that included performances by Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh and Salman Khan.
Ambani also made headlines in 2018 when Beyoncé performed at pre-wedding festivities for his daughter. Former US Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were among those who rubbed shoulders with Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars in the western Indian city of Udaipur.


The Democratic Party crisis after Biden’s debate spirals with no clear ending

The Democratic Party crisis after Biden’s debate spirals with no clear ending
Updated 13 July 2024
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The Democratic Party crisis after Biden’s debate spirals with no clear ending

The Democratic Party crisis after Biden’s debate spirals with no clear ending
  • Donors and high-profile endorsers are repudiating Biden, and some top Democrats are pondering whether to make a move against him
  • Biden insists he will not step down. And indeed, other delegates say they’re firmly behind the president

NEW YORK: For more than two weeks now, the Democratic Party has been mired in crisis. And yet there is no sign that the threat to Joe Biden’s reelection is nearing a conclusion, as the president digs in and a growing chorus of Democratic officials, donors and strategists calls for him to step aside.
Donors and high-profile endorsers are repudiating Biden, morale inside and outside the campaign is weak, and some top Democrats are pondering whether to make a move against the embattled president. One of Biden’s allies privately described a cycle of alternating hope and despair in the style of the movie “Groundhog Day.”
The extraordinary intra-party debate still rages 15 days after Biden’s disastrous debate performance, with the president’s Thursday news conference doing little to quell fears about his prospects against Republican Donald Trump. Another five Democratic members of Congress called on Biden to step aside in the hours since the president’s high-profile press conference, bringing to nearly 20 the total number of Democratic US representatives and senators publicly pushing Biden to leave the race.
Biden’s acknowledgment Thursday that delegates were free to vote their conscience at the party’s August convention — or in a virtual roll call vote that could come much sooner — sparked a new wave of urgent conversations among Democratic officials on Friday.
“I’m in that box of delegates who are really reconsidering if they’re going to cast their vote for President Biden,” said Joe Salazar, a Democratic National Committee member from Colorado.
Biden insists he will not step down. And indeed, other delegates say they’re firmly behind the president.
The president’s team is aggressively pushing back against a collection of new data shared among Democratic officials in recent days arguing that he’s now at a considerable disadvantage in his bid to defeat Trump in November. In fact, fear is pervasive among donors and strategists working on House and Senate races that Biden’s weak standing could undermine the party’s outlook even in blue states.
Hours after his campaign issued a new strategy memo announcing a renewed focus on three pivotal Midwestern states — the so-called “Blue Wall” that has long been must-win for Democrats — one of the campaign’s field organizers in Wisconsin quit.
The lower-level staffer’s departure, announced during an internal staff conference call Thursday, was attributed directly to post-debate frustration, according to two people familiar with the matter granted anonymity to share details of the private discussion. A Biden campaign spokesperson confirmed the staff departure.
While one person leaving a campaign of more than 1,000 people isn’t proof of a larger exodus, other signs of trouble continued to pop up.
One lawmaker, Rep. Mike Levin of California, told Biden directly on Friday that he should step down in a virtual call hosted for members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
The call began with Biden soliciting feedback on how to appeal to the Hispanic vote and what campaign events he should join over the next few months. When the call was opened to questions, Levin raised his hand to give Biden a talk about his Southern California district, with voters telling him that the president should not be on top of the party’s ticket for 2024.
Levin, according to two of the people, then encouraged the president to listen to those constituents and step down.
“I have deep respect for President Biden’s five-plus decades of public service and incredible appreciation for the work we’ve done together these last three and a half years,” the lawmaker said in a statement. “But I believe the time has come for President Biden to pass the torch.”
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries issued a letter to his caucus on Friday describing a private meeting he had the night before with Biden. Notably, he did not include any endorsement of the president in the brief letter.
“In my conversation with President Biden, I directly expressed the full breadth of insight, heartfelt perspectives and conclusions about the path forward that the caucus has shared in our recent time together,” Jeffries wrote.
A private debate is playing out among the party’s donor class in particular, which is far from united on whether Vice President Kamala Harris should inherit the nomination should Biden ultimately step aside, according to conversations with more than a half-dozen donors granted anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Some donors believe Biden still offers the best chance of defeating Trump, despite Democratic voters expressing widespread doubts in polling about his age and readiness.
That’s even as fundraisers are being canceled and some larger donors refuse to fund any Democratic campaigns until Biden is no longer the nominee. Others are putting money behind political action committees aimed at supporting down-ballot candidates who have openly called for Biden to step aside.
Others would prefer an open convention that would allow hundreds of delegates gathered in Chicago next month to select the nominee from a collection of top-tier prospects that also includes California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, among others.
But Harris, who is the first woman, Black woman and person of Asian descent to serve as vice president, commands deep loyalty from key Democratic constituencies. Even if donors persuaded someone to run in a potential open primary, that candidate would be in a position of challenging and trying to sideline someone who has set those historic firsts.
The Biden-Harris campaign is in a position of implicitly undercutting Harris’ prospects to protect Biden’s.
Biden’s campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon released a memo Thursday conceding “increased anxiety” within the party, although she suggested that movement against the president, “while real, is not a sea-change in the state of the race.”
And O’Malley Dillon wrote that there is “no indication that other Democratic candidates would outperform the president against Trump.”
Salazar, the DNC member from Colorado, declined to say whether there was an organized effort among delegates to rally behind another presidential nominee when asked. But he criticized DNC leadership in Washington for declining to answer key logistical questions about how or when delegates could nominate a Biden replacement should they wish to.
Biden’s nomination could be sealed in a matter of days due to a virtual roll call that would make him the nominee well before the convention opens Aug. 19. The DNC originally set up the virtual roll call to preempt an Ohio ballot requirement that could have kept Biden off the ballot there.
Ohio has since changed its law. But despite numerous inquiries from The Associated Press and other media, the DNC won’t say whether it will keep the virtual roll call or when it will hold it.
The virtual vote to make Biden the nominee could be as soon as July 19, Salazar said, although a DNC spokesperson said the vote could not take place before July 21.
Meanwhile, Trump’s fundraising is surging. And the presumptive Republican nominee has only just begun to spend on television advertising, while Biden has poured tens of millions of dollars into battleground-state advertising in recent months.
Biden’s allies are hoping for a respite in the coming days with the Republican National Convention opening Monday in Milwaukee.
Republican National Committee Chair Michael Whatley said the GOP was prepared to win this fall regardless of whether Biden steps out of the race or not.
“I think if Kamala Harris steps in, she is going to run on the exact same platform that Joe Biden has been running on, and it is a failed platform based on failed policies that have really hurt American families,” he said. “The Democratic Party is in complete disarray.”
 


Scholz says US long-range missiles in Germany to help ‘securing peace’

Scholz says US long-range missiles in Germany to help ‘securing peace’
Updated 13 July 2024
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Scholz says US long-range missiles in Germany to help ‘securing peace’

Scholz says US long-range missiles in Germany to help ‘securing peace’
  • Germany's chancellor defended the decision after Moscow warned that it was pushing Russia and the West toward a Cold War-style confrontation
  • NATO countries are rushing to bolster their defenses on the continent in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine

WASHINGTON: Chancellor Olaf Scholz has hailed a decision from the United States to periodically station long-range missiles in Germany as a step to increase deterrence against Russia.
Washington’s move marks a return of US cruise missiles to Germany after a 20-year absence, and has sparked criticism even among members of Scholz’s Social Democrats.
The Kremlin also said the decision to station US missiles in Germany was pushing Russia and the West toward a Cold War-style confrontation.
Defending the decision, Scholz told reporters at a NATO summit in Washington it is “something of deterrence and it’s securing peace, and it is a necessary and important decision at the right time.”
The United States on Wednesday said the “episodic deployments” of long-range missiles to Germany will begin in 2026.
The White House said it would eventually look to permanently station them in Germany, and the missiles would “have significantly longer range” than current US systems in Europe.
“Exercising these advanced capabilities will demonstrate the United States’ commitment to NATO and its contributions to European integrated deterrence,” it said in a joint statement with the German government.
The missile decision signalled “steady steps toward the Cold War,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a state TV reporter.
“All the attributes of the Cold War with the direct confrontation are returning,” Peskov said.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk the deployment decision addressed a “very serious gap” in the country’s capabilities.
The German army does not have long-range missiles that launch from the ground, only cruise missiles that can be fired by aircraft.
But the announcement sparked an outcry in Germany, where the deployment of US missiles brings back painful memories of the Cold War.
Ralf Stegner, an MP for Scholz’s Social Democrats, said the missile decision could signal the start of a new “arms race.”
“This will not make the world safer. On the contrary, we are entering a spiral in which the world is becoming increasingly dangerous,” warned Stegner.
Sahra Wagenknecht, a prominent far-left figure in Germany, told the Spiegel weekly that US missile deployment “increases the danger that Germany itself will become a theater of war.”
The 1980s deployment of US Pershing ballistic missiles in West Germany at the height of the Cold War prompted widespread demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands coming out in pacifist protest.
US missiles continued to be stationed through the reunification of Germany and into the 1990s.
Following the end of the Cold War, the US significantly reduced the numbers of missiles stationed in Europe as the threat from Moscow receded.
But NATO countries — spearheaded by the US — are rushing to bolster their defenses on the continent in the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
 


Musk donates to group working to elect Trump, Bloomberg reports

Musk donates to group working to elect Trump, Bloomberg reports
Updated 13 July 2024
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Musk donates to group working to elect Trump, Bloomberg reports

Musk donates to group working to elect Trump, Bloomberg reports

WASHINGTON, July 12 : Billionaire Elon Musk, who has been ramping up criticism of US President Joe Biden, has donated to a political group working to elect rival presidential candidate Donald Trump, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing sources.
The report did not indicate how much Musk donated but added it was “a sizable amount” given to a group called America PAC.
Bloomberg reported that the PAC — a group that can receive unlimited contributions for political activity — is next required to disclose its list of donors on July 15.
In March, Trump, a former US President who is expected to be formally nominated next week as the Republican Party’s candidate for the Nov. 5 election, met with Musk and other wealthy donors.
In response to reports of the meeting, South Africa-born Musk posted on X: “Just to be super clear, I am not donating money to either candidate for US President.” In May, he also denied media reports that there had been talks over a potential advisory role for him in any Trump presidency.
Musk, the world’s richest person who runs electric car maker Tesla, rocket maker SpaceX, social media company X and other companies, did not respond to Reuters’ request for comments.
Musk in recent years has more fully embraced the Republican Party, which has weighed on the reputation and sales of Tesla, the biggest source of his wealth.
Trump last month reiterated his pledge to immediately abandon the Biden administration’s “mandate” to support the electric vehicle industry. But he added: “I’m a big fan of electric cars. I’m a fan of Elon.”
“He does an incredible job with Tesla.”
Musk said they had “some conversations” and Trump is a “huge fan of the Cybertrucks,” referring to Tesla’s electric pickup trucks.
While he has publicly criticized Biden’s policies on immigration and electric vehicles and even his age, Musk has not made any formal endorsement in November’s contest and Trump has said he did not know if he has Musk’s support.
He has also endorsed antisemitic comments on X, though Musk has denied being antisemitic.
Musk’s views have hurt his standing among some consumers, according to a CivicScience survey shown exclusively to Reuters.