Donald Trump wins Nevada, Virgin Islands to close in on Republican nomination

Donald Trump wins Nevada, Virgin Islands to close in on Republican nomination
Former US president Donald Trump is close to winning the Republican nomination after back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire last month. (AFP)
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Updated 09 February 2024
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Donald Trump wins Nevada, Virgin Islands to close in on Republican nomination

Donald Trump wins Nevada, Virgin Islands to close in on Republican nomination
  • Former US president the only major Republican candidate competing in Nevada’s caucuses
  • Earlier on Thursday, Trump easily won the US Virgin Islands caucuses, adding four to his delegate haul

Donald Trump won Republican presidential nominating caucuses in Nevada and the US Virgin Islands on Thursday, moving closer to becoming his party’s White House standard-bearer and a likely general election rematch with US President Joe Biden in November.
Trump, the frontrunner in his party’s nominating race, was the only major candidate competing in Nevada’s caucuses and was set to win the state’s 26 delegates to the party’s nominating convention in July after being projected the winner on Thursday night by Edison Research.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump easily won the US Virgin Islands caucuses, adding four to his delegate haul. The former US president won 182 votes, or 74 percent of the 246 votes cast there, beating his last remaining rival in the Republican race, Nikki Haley, who won 26 percent support with 64 votes.
The Nevada caucuses, organized by the Trump-friendly Nevada Republican Party, came two days after a state-run primary election, which saw a humiliating defeat for Haley.
Despite being the only major candidate on Tuesday’s Republican primary ballot, Haley was still roundly defeated after tens of thousands of Trump supporters turned out to mark their ballots with “none of these candidates,” an option which garnered 63 percent of the vote to Haley’s 30 percent.
Trump spent Thursday morning watching coverage of arguments in a case he appealed to the US Supreme Court concerning Colorado’s decision to remove him from this year’s ballot for engaging in “insurrection” relating to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
The justices appeared skeptical of Colorado’s actions, expressing concern about the precedent it could set.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Trump called the Colorado case “more election interference by the Democrats.”
He said he was preparing to leave his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida to travel to Nevada for the caucuses.
“We expect to have a very big night,” Trump said.
Trump is close to winning the Republican nomination after back-to-back wins in Iowa and New Hampshire last month.
Haley, a former UN ambassador, is refusing to quit the nominating race, a move which has infuriated Trump. Haley is vowing to stay in the race and make a potential last stand in her home state of South Carolina, which holds a primary election on Feb. 24.
Haley has no clear path to the nomination and trails Trump badly in opinion polls in South Carolina, where she was governor for six years.
The competing Republican ballots in Nevada this week were the result of a conflict between the state Republican Party — run by Trump allies — and a 2021 state law that mandates a primary must be held.
Presidential nominating caucuses are run by state political parties, not the state, and the Nevada Republican Party decided to stick with a caucus on Thursday. It was viewed as more helpful to Trump because of his superior ground game in the Western state.
Haley chose to compete in Tuesday’s primary. Trump went for the caucus. The state party ruled that only candidates contesting Thursday’s caucus could compete for delegates.
Despite the results in Nevada having little impact on the Republican nominating contest, the state will be a hotly contested battleground because its population can swing to either party and play a significant role in November’s presidential election.
In 2020, Biden beat Trump in Nevada by 2.4 percentage points. Opinion polls show a likely rematch between Biden and Trump in the state will be close.
About 30 percent of Nevada’s population is self-described as Latino or Hispanic on the US Census, and Republicans are making some inroads with these voters nationwide.
Nevada also has many potential swing voters: There are 768,000 registered as “nonpartisan,” more than those registered as either Democrat or Republican, according to the latest state figures.


US university pulls student speech after Jewish groups object

A man looks at his cellphone while walking at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)
A man looks at his cellphone while walking at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)
Updated 6 sec ago
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US university pulls student speech after Jewish groups object

A man looks at his cellphone while walking at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California. (AFP)
  • Israel has killed at least 33,843 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory

LOS ANGELES: A top US university has canceled its plans for a graduation speech by a Muslim student over what it says are safety concerns, after pro-Israel groups criticized her selection.
The decision by the University of Southern California is the latest controversy to roil American higher education since the conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted in October.
Asna Tabassum, who has been attacked online for “antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric,” had been selected as class valedictorian — an honorary role whose holder traditionally gives an address in front of up to 65,000 people.
But on Monday the university’s provost, Andrew Guzman, announced the May 10 ceremony would go ahead without the speech.
“Unfortunately, over the past several days, discussion relating to the selection of our valedictorian has taken on an alarming tenor,” Guzman said in a statement.
“The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security.”
Guzman’s statement gave no specifics, but the Los Angeles Times quoted Erroll Southers, the university’s associate senior vice president for safety and risk assurance, as saying the institution had received threats by email, phone and letter.
Individuals “say they will come to the campus,” he said.
Tabassum criticized the decision, which she said was the result of the university “succumbing to a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice.”
“Although this should have been a time of celebration for my family, friends, professors, and classmates, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices have subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of my uncompromising belief in human rights for all,” she said in a statement.
The Hamas attack that started the war on October 7 resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 33,843 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
The fallout from the conflict has been felt around the world, and is particularly intense on US college campuses, where both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups say they are being victimized and silenced.
On Wednesday the president of the prestigious Columbia University in New York will become the latest campus leader to face questions from US lawmakers about whether her institution is doing enough to combat anti-Semitism in the student body.
 

 


US to query Israel about 6-year-old’s killing in Gaza, State Dept says

This undated image made available on Sunday Feb. 11, 2024, shows Hind Rajab. (AP)
This undated image made available on Sunday Feb. 11, 2024, shows Hind Rajab. (AP)
Updated 8 min 2 sec ago
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US to query Israel about 6-year-old’s killing in Gaza, State Dept says

This undated image made available on Sunday Feb. 11, 2024, shows Hind Rajab. (AP)
  • Israel has killed at least 33,843 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory
  • “We’re going to go back to the government of Israel and ask them for further information,” Miller said at a press briefing, calling Hind Rajab’s death “an unspeakable tragedy, something that never should have occurred and never should occur”

WASHINGTON: The US State Department will ask Israel for more information about the January death of 6-year-old Palestinian Hind Rajab in Gaza, spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Tuesday, calling for a full investigation into the matter after a Washington Post report cast doubt on Israel’s earlier explanation.
The terrified girl trapped in a car in Gaza with her dead family had begged for help in a phone call to rescuers, in which gunfire could be heard as she described Israeli forces drawing near.

Wreckage of an ambulance used by two workers who were killed while they went to save Palestinian girl Hind Rajab, 6, who begged Gaza rescuers to send help while being trapped by Israeli military fire, after Hind’s body was found in a car along with the bodies of five of her family members, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, is seen in Gaza City, February 10, 2024. (REUTERS)

Relatives found her body 12 days later along with those of her aunt, uncle and their three children in their car near an ambulance and two dead ambulance workers who had tried to save her.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that an investigation had found Israeli armored vehicles were present in the area, contrary to the Israeli Defense Forces’ claim that a preliminary investigation had found its forces were not within firing range of the car in which she was trapped.
“We’re going to go back to the government of Israel and ask them for further information,” Miller said at a press briefing, calling Hind Rajab’s death “an unspeakable tragedy, something that never should have occurred and never should occur.”
“We would still welcome a full investigation into this matter and how it occurred in the first place,” Miller added.
Israel’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
US officials have said they are reviewing incidents of civilian harm in Israel’s six-month-old war in Gaza as part of processes meant to ensure US-provided weapons are not used in breaches of international humanitarian law.
Miller said in Hind Rajab’s case, rather than the United States conducting its own review, it had asked Israel what its own investigation had found.
“That’s what we’ll be going back to them to do with the new details that were raised by the Washington Post,” Miller said.

 


UN committee unable to agree on Palestinian bid for full membership

UN committee unable to agree on Palestinian bid for full membership
Updated 45 min 17 sec ago
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UN committee unable to agree on Palestinian bid for full membership

UN committee unable to agree on Palestinian bid for full membership
  • An application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council, where Israel ally the United States can block it

UNITED NATIONS: A United Nations Security Council committee considering an application by the Palestinian Authority to become a full UN member “was unable to make a unanimous recommendation” on whether it met the criteria, according to the committee report seen by Reuters on Tuesday.
The Palestinian Authority is still expected to push the 15-member Security Council to vote — as early as this week — on a draft resolution recommending it become a full member of the world body, diplomats said.
Such membership would effectively recognize a Palestinian state. The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the 193-member UN General Assembly in 2012.
But an application to become a full UN member needs to be approved by the Security Council, where Israel ally the United States can block it, and then at least two-thirds of the General Assembly.
The United States said earlier this month that establishing an independent Palestinian state should happen through direct negotiations between the parties and not at the United Nations.
The UN Security Council has long endorsed a vision of two states living side by side within secure and recognized borders. Palestinians want a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, all territory captured by Israel in 1967.
Little progress has been made on achieving Palestinian statehood since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the early 1990s.
The Palestinian push for full UN membership comes six months into a war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza, and as Israel is expanding settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The Security Council committee on the admission of new members — made up of all 15 council members — agreed to its report on Tuesday after meeting twice last week to discuss the Palestinian application.
“Regarding the issue of whether the application met all the criteria for membership ... the Committee was unable to make a unanimous recommendation to the Security Council,” the report said, adding that “differing views were expressed.”
UN membership is open to “peace-loving states” that accept the obligations in the founding UN Charter and are able and willing to carry them out.


Assange extradition moves closer as US provides UK court with assurances

Assange extradition moves closer as US provides UK court with assurances
Updated 16 April 2024
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Assange extradition moves closer as US provides UK court with assurances

Assange extradition moves closer as US provides UK court with assurances
  • Extradition sought over release of classified information
  • Australia has urged US to drop charges against Assange

LONDON: The United States has provided assurances requested by the High Court in London which could finally pave the way for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be extradited from Britain.
Last month, the High Court ruled that, without certain US guarantees, Assange, 52, would be allowed to launch a new appeal against being extradited to face 18 charges, all bar one under the Espionage Act, over WikiLeaks’ release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.
Those assurances — that in a US trial he could seek a First Amendment right to free speech and that there was no prospect of new charges which could see the death penalty being imposed — have now been submitted by a deadline which fell on Tuesday.
The document, seen by Reuters, states that Assange “will have the ability to raise and seek to rely upon at trial the rights and protections given under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.” However it adds that a decision on the “applicability of the First Amendment is exclusively within the purview of the US courts.”
The document also says that a sentence of death will neither be sought nor imposed.
“These assurances are binding on any and all present or subsequent individuals to whom authority has been delegated to decide the matters,” it said.
There will now be a further court hearing in London on May 20, but his lawyers have previously described US assurances given in other cases as not “worth the paper they’re written on,” echoing similar criticism from human rights group Amnesty International.

’EXTREME DISTRESS’
Assange’s wife Stella, whom he married while in prison in London, said the guarantees did not satisfy their concerns, describing them as “blatant weasel words.”
“The United States has issued a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty,” she said in a statement.
“The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future — his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism.”
There was no immediate comment from the US Department of Justice or a High Court spokesperson.
Last week, US President Joe Biden said he was considering a request from Australia to drop the prosecution, which Assange’s US lawyer described as “encouraging.”
It was not clear what influence, if any, Biden could exert on a criminal case, but the Wall Street Journal has also reported that discussions are underway about a potential plea bargaining deal.
Assange, who is an Australian citizen, has spent more than 13 years in various legal battles in the English courts since he was first arrested in November 2010.
To his many supporters, he is an anti-establishment hero who is being persecuted for exposing US wrongdoing and details of alleged war crimes in secret, classified files.
The US authorities argue he is not being prosecuted for the publication of the leaked materials, but for the criminal act of conspiring with former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to unlawfully obtain them.
“The Biden administration must drop this dangerous prosecution before it is too late,” Stella Assange said.


Muslim school student loses UK court bid over prayer rituals ban

Michaela Community School is a state-funded but independently run school located in northwest London. (Shutterstock)
Michaela Community School is a state-funded but independently run school located in northwest London. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 April 2024
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Muslim school student loses UK court bid over prayer rituals ban

Michaela Community School is a state-funded but independently run school located in northwest London. (Shutterstock)
  • The High Court in London hearing the case was told the ban introduced last year stemmed from several dozen students beginning to pray in the school’s yard

LONDON: A Muslim pupil lost a UK court challenge Tuesday against a top London school’s ban on prayer rituals, in a case about freedom of religion in schools that captured national attention.
The student, who cannot be named, took legal action against Michaela Community School in northwest London, claiming the policy was discriminatory and “uniquely” affected her faith due to its ritualized nature.
She argued the school’s prohibition of on-site prayer unlawfully breached her right to religious freedom and was “the kind of discrimination which makes religious minorities feel alienated from society.”
The school — state-funded but independently run and renowned for its academic achievement record and strict rules — countered that the policy imposed last year was justified.
The High Court in London hearing the case was told the ban introduced last year stemmed from several dozen students beginning to pray in the school’s yard, using blazers to kneel on, the BBC reported.
It then imposed the new rules due to concerns about a “culture shift” toward “segregation between religious groups and intimidation within the group of Muslim pupils,” the court reportedly heard.
In a written ruling, judge Thomas Linden dismissed the pupil’s arguments, ruling that by enrolling at the school she had effectively accepted being subject to restrictions on manifesting her faith.
He concluded that the prayer ritual policy was “proportionate” and that its aims and ability to achieve them “outweighs” any “adverse effects” on the rights of Muslim pupils at the school.
Responding to the decision Katharine Birbalsingh, headteacher of Michaela Community School, said “a school should be free to do what is right for the pupils it serves.”
“The court’s decision is therefore a victory for all schools,” she added on X (formerly Twitter).
“Schools should not be forced by one child and her mother to change its approach simply because they have decided they don’t like something at the school.”
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan also welcomed the ruling, saying “headteachers are best placed to make decisions in their school.”
“Michaela is an outstanding school and I hope this judgment gives all school leaders the confidence to make the right decisions for their pupils.”