One dead in Greek wildfires fanned by gale-force winds

One dead in Greek wildfires fanned by gale-force winds
Firefighters try to extinguish the fire as a firefighting helicopter drops water in Koropi suburb, eastern part of Athens, on Jun. 19, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 21 June 2024
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One dead in Greek wildfires fanned by gale-force winds

One dead in Greek wildfires fanned by gale-force winds
  • The man, 55, was injured in a blaze in the region of Ilia on the Peloponnese peninsula
  • Dozens of firefighters assisted by aircraft were deployed to tame forest fires in Ilia

ATHENS: A man died on Friday as several forest fires fanned by gale-force winds battered Greece's southern tip and forced evacuations, the fire brigade said.
The man, 55, was injured in a blaze in the region of Ilia on the Peloponnese peninsula and died at a hospital, said a fire service official.
Dozens of firefighters assisted by aircraft were deployed to tame forest fires in Ilia, the nearby Achaia region and near the town of Kranidi, also in Peloponnese.
Residents of several villages in those areas were told to flee their homes as blazes approached.
Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean country, but they have become more devastating as summers have become hotter and drier, which scientists relate to climate change.
Winds of up to 95 kph (60 mph) were hampering operations of firefighting aircraft, Greek fire brigade spokesperson Vasilis Vathrakogiannis said.
"All civil protection forces have been on alert today," he told a televised briefing, as around 45 wildfires broke out in the country within a few hours.
One forest fire that briefly threatened houses at a coastal town close to the capital Athens was contained earlier on Friday, the fire brigade said.


Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump's pick for vice president

Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump's pick for vice president
Updated 5 sec ago
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Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump's pick for vice president

Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump's pick for vice president
  • He called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” for office. Vance, whose wife, lawyer Usha Chilukuri Vance, is Indian American and the mother of their three children, also criticized Trump’s racist rhetoric, saying he could be “America’s Hitler”

COLUMBUS, Ohio: Former President Donald Trump on Monday chose US Sen. JD Vance of Ohio to be his running mate as he looks to return to the White House.
Here are some things to know about Vance, a 39-year-old Republican now in his first term in the Senate:
Vance rose to prominence with the memoir ‘Hillbilly Elegy’
Vance was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio. He joined the Marines and served in Iraq, and later earned degrees from Ohio State University and Yale Law School. He also worked as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.
Vance made a name for himself with his memoir, the 2016 bestseller “Hillbilly Elegy,” which was published as Trump was first running for president. The book earned Vance a reputation as someone who could help explain the maverick New York businessman’s appeal in middle America, especially among the working class, rural white voters who helped Trump win the presidency.
“Hillbilly Elegy” also introduced Vance to the Trump family. Donald Trump Jr. loved the book and knew of Vance when he went to launch his political career. The two hit it off and have remained friends.
He was first elected to public office in 2022
After Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Vance returned to his native Ohio and set up an anti-opioid charity. He also took to the lecture circuit and was a favored guest at Republican Lincoln Day dinners where his personal story — including the hardship Vance endured because of his mother’s drug addiction — resonated.
Vance’s appearances were opportunities to sell his ideas for fixing the country and helped lay the groundwork for entering politics in 2021, when he sought the Senate seat vacated by Republican Rob Portman, who retired.
Trump endorsed Vance. Vance went on to win a crowded Republican primary and the general election.
He and Trump have personal chemistry
Personal relationships are extremely important to the former president and he and Vance have developed a strong rapport over years, speaking on the phone regularly.
Trump has also complimented Vance’s beard, saying he “looks like a young Abraham Lincoln.”
Vance went from never-Trumper to fierce ally
Vance was a “never Trump” Republican in 2016. He called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” for office. Vance, whose wife, lawyer Usha Chilukuri Vance, is Indian American and the mother of their three children, also criticized Trump’s racist rhetoric, saying he could be “America’s Hitler.”
But by the time Vance met Trump in 2021, he had reversed his opinion, citing Trump’s accomplishments as president. Both men downplayed Vance’s past scathing criticism.
Once elected, Vance became a fierce Trump ally on Capitol Hill, unceasingly defending Trump’s policies and behavior.
He is a leading conservative voice
Kevin Roberts, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, called Vance a leading voice for the conservative movement, on key issues including a shift away from interventionist foreign policy, free market economics and “American culture writ large.”
Democrats call him an extremist, citing provocative positions Vance has taken but sometimes later amended. Vance signaled support for a national 15-week abortion ban during his Senate run, for instance, then softened that stance once Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed a 2023 abortion rights amendment.
Vance has adopted Trump’s rhetoric about Jan. 6
On the 2020 election, he said he wouldn’t have certified the results immediately if he had been vice president and said Trump had “a very legitimate grievance.” He has put conditions on honoring the results of the 2024 election that echo Trump’s. A litany of government and outside investigations have not found any election fraud that could have swung the outcome of Trump’s 2020 loss to Democratic President Joe Biden.
In the Senate, Vance sometimes embraces bipartisanship. He and Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown co-sponsored a railway safety bill following a fiery train derailment in the Ohio village of East Palestine. He’s sponsored legislation extending and increasing funding for Great Lakes restoration, and supported bipartisan legislation boosting workers and families.
Vance can articulate Trump’s vision
People familiar with the vice presidential vetting process said Vance would bring to the GOP ticket debating skills and the ability to articulate Trump’s vision.
Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative activist group Turning Point USA, said Vance compellingly articulates the America First world view and could help Trump in states he closely lost in 2020, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, that share Ohio’s values, demographics and economy.

 


Trump supporters see his narrow escape from death as God’s work

Trump supporters see his narrow escape from death as God’s work
Updated 31 min 44 sec ago
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Trump supporters see his narrow escape from death as God’s work

Trump supporters see his narrow escape from death as God’s work

MILWAUKEE: Donald Trump’s narrow brush with a would-be assassin’s bullet has further convinced his evangelical supporters he is blessed by God, reinforcing the messianic undertones of his populist presidential campaign.
Trump and his campaign have infused his candidacy with Christian imagery, prompting critics to accuse them of fostering a cult of personality with him as its leader, solely capable of saving an America he falsely portrays as crime-ridden and on the verge of collapse.
In interviews with 18 delegates on Monday at the Republican Party’s national convention in Milwaukee, all but two believed God had a hand in Trump’s escape from assassination.
Many said that divine intervention was God’s way of showing American voters that Trump, and not President Joe Biden, a Democrat, is the right man to occupy the White House after the election.
“To me, it was God-given protection,” said Sharon D. Regan, a Trump delegate from Florida. “It was miraculous. It was sent by heaven and I pray that protection continues.”
Trump himself cast his narrow escape as the work of God. On Sunday, the eve of his formal nomination as the Republican candidate, he wrote on his Truth Social platform that “it was God alone who prevented the unthinkable from happening.”
In both the 2016 and 2020 elections, evangelical voters staunchly supported Trump despite claims of adultery and sexual misconduct, which he denied. Critics in both political parties denounce him as immoral and set on dismantling democracy.
With Trump convicted in May for a hush money payment to a porn star and facing dozens of other criminal charges as he pursues a second term, some Christian media are portraying him as an instrument of God’s will being persecuted by internal foes.
Ray Myers, a Texas delegate, said: “There’s some kind of mystical thing going on. After everything he’s been through, everything that’s been thrown at him, and now he’s even shed his own blood. And he’s still here. I don’t know how else you can explain it, but God is involved.”
For voters who believe that Trump is anointed by God, Saturday’s attempted assassination is “another piece of the puzzle that fell into place,” said Paul Djupe, a political scientist at Denison University who specializes in religion and politics.
Djupe said the shooting helped affirm for those voters that “Trump is battling forces of evil on the other side, and it affirmed his special role as the protector of Christians against the vast forces of evil including Democrats.”
Trump and his followers frequently post images of Trump as a Christ-like figure on social media. T-shirts at his rallies also promote this idea, including one of Jesus laying his hands on Trump’s shoulders.
Melanie Collette, a New Jersey delegate, said there was a strong belief at the convention that “God interceded” to save Trump. But she cautioned: “We certainly don’t want to deify Donald Trump. That’s a cautionary tale for Christians.”
Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who is an outspoken critic of Trump, said he does not believe the deification of Trump among his supporters helps Trump in a general election.
“I think it frightens a lot of voters, that a lot of his supporters think he’s the messiah,” Madrid said. 


US judge dismisses Trump classified documents case

US judge dismisses Trump classified documents case
Updated 58 min 44 sec ago
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US judge dismisses Trump classified documents case

US judge dismisses Trump classified documents case
  • The judge’s decision followed Trump’s win earlier this month at the Supreme Court with the immunity decision

MIAMI: A Florida judge appointed by Donald Trump on Monday dismissed one of the criminal cases against him, concerning charges that he mishandled top secret documents — a decision the prosecution is set to appeal.
The dismissal was a stunning victory for Trump, effectively removing a major legal threat against the former president, who faces other criminal cases that he says should be thrown out as well.
The court decision added to Trump’s seemingly unstoppable momentum on the first day of the Republican National Convention, where he became the party’s official nominee to run against President Joe Biden just days after surviving an assassination attempt.
In her ruling, Judge Aileen Cannon said that Special Counsel Jack Smith, who brought the charges, was unlawfully appointed and that the case should be therefore tossed.
Smith was named in 2022 by Biden appointee Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee the investigations into Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left office, as well as his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Peter Carr, the spokesman for Smith’s office, said the prosecutor had been authorized by the Justice Department to appeal Cannon’s decision.
“The dismissal of the case deviates from the uniform conclusion of all previous courts to have considered the issue that the attorney general is statutorily authorized to appoint a special counsel,” Carr said in a statement.
The Trump-appointed judge made her ruling after lawyers for the 78-year-old argued for a partial stay of proceedings to allow for an assessment of a new Supreme Court ruling that a former president has broad immunity from prosecution for actions taken in his official role as president.
In a 93-page opinion, Cannon said Smith’s appointment and funding usurped the role of Congress, echoing a recent opinion put forward by Clarence Thomas, one of the conservatives who dominate the Supreme Court.
“The Court is convinced that... Smith’s prosecution of this action breaches two structural cornerstones of our constitutional scheme — the role of Congress in the appointment of constitutional officers, and the role of Congress in authorizing expenditures by law,” she concluded.
“The clerk is directed to close this case,” the judge wrote.

Cannon did not make a ruling on the merits of the case, which critics have accused her of slow-walking.
The judge’s decision followed Trump’s win earlier this month at the Supreme Court with the immunity decision.
That decision has helped Trump in his quest to delay the trials he faces until after the November election.
These include charges in Washington and Georgia related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election he lost to Biden.
But one of the cases dogging Trump on the campaign trail already resulted in a conviction: he was found guilty in New York in May of 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had a sexual encounter with the real estate tycoon.
“This dismissal of the Lawless Indictment in Florida should be just the first step, followed quickly by the dismissal of ALL the Witch Hunts,” Trump said on his Truth Social platform.
Reaction to the decision was split down the ideological divide.
Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson hailed the ruling as “good news for America and the rule of law” and called on the government to halt the “witch hunt,” especially in the wake of the weekend assassination attempt on Trump.
Eric Holder, who was attorney general under president Barack Obama, said tossing the case was “so bereft of legal reasoning as to be utterly absurd.”
The decision was “all about delay,” and the “incompetent” Cannon should be removed, he added.
In the case, Trump was facing 31 counts of “willful retention of national defense information,” each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
He also faced charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements.
Trump allegedly kept classified documents — which included records from the Pentagon and CIA — unsecured at his Mar-a-Lago home and thwarted efforts to retrieve them.
The material included secret nuclear and defense documents, according to prosecutors.
Republicans contended the prosecution was unfair and selective, after a federal prosecutor in February opted not to pursue charges against Biden, who kept some classified material at his home after leaving the vice presidency in 2017.
Biden cooperated in returning his documents.
 

 


Irish prime minister condemns anti-immigration clashes

Irish prime minister condemns anti-immigration clashes
Updated 16 July 2024
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Irish prime minister condemns anti-immigration clashes

Irish prime minister condemns anti-immigration clashes
  • The violence was sparked by a provider attempting to start work, said the ministry, which is responsible for housing asylum seekers

DUBLIN: Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris condemned violent anti-immigration clashes on Monday at a planned asylum-seeker housing facility in Dublin as “reprehensible,” as 15 were arrested.
The clashes are the latest at sites earmarked for asylum seekers who have arrived in Ireland in growing numbers in recent years.
Videos posted on social media showed machinery and construction materials on fire at the building site, a former paint factory in the north of the capital.
Protesters threw bricks and launched fireworks at police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd of more than 100 mostly male teenagers.
Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said “no person has a right to burn cars, damage property” or attack the police.
“These actions are criminal and are designed to sow fear and division. We should not accept them being legitimized in any way by describing them as ‘protest’,” Harris added in a statement.
“A number of Garda vehicles have been damaged,” police said, using the name for the Irish national force.
One video showed a person, believed to be a worker at the site, which is planned for repurposing as an accommodation facility for up to 500 asylum seekers, being removed from the scene on a stretcher.
Protests at the site entrance have delayed the start of work “for several months,” the integration ministry said.
The violence was sparked by a provider attempting to start work, said the ministry, which is responsible for housing asylum seekers.
“The (ministry) condemns all acts of criminality and intimidation of providers and their employees,” it said.
Ireland’s Justice Minister Helen McEntee told the Irish Times newspaper that she was “appalled” by the scenes and that those involved would face the “full rigours of the law.”
Since 2022, there has been a sharp increase in arson attacks on properties around the country linked to accommodating asylum seekers.
During violent riots in Dublin last November that were sparked by unrest over increased immigration and ignited by a knife attack outside a school, rioters also targeted a number of properties used to house asylum seekers.
 

 


UK launches armed forces review after NATO summit

UK launches armed forces review after NATO summit
Updated 16 July 2024
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UK launches armed forces review after NATO summit

UK launches armed forces review after NATO summit
  • The review, which will be headed by former defense secretary and NATO secretary general George Robertson, will “ensure a ‘NATO-first’ policy is at the heart of Britain’s defense plans”

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer — just back from a NATO summit — launched on Tuesday a review of Britain’s armed forces to set out a path to increasing defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP.
The ministry of defense said the “Strategic Defense Review” would begin work “immediately in recognition of the urgency of the threats facing the UK,” and aim to deliver a report in the first half of 2025.
Launched less than two weeks after coming to power, prioritising the review is the government’s response to Conservative Party efforts to cast doubts about Labour’s commitment to defense.
During the election campaign, popular attack lines from the Tories included Starmer’s lack of timeframe for increasing defense spending and claims that Labour was a “danger” to national security.
At last week’s NATO summit in Washington, Starmer reaffirmed the UK’s support for the Western military alliance and its “serious commitment” to spending 2.5 percent of its GDP on defense.
The review, which will be headed by former defense secretary and NATO secretary general George Robertson, will “ensure a ‘NATO-first’ policy is at the heart of Britain’s defense plans.”
Starmer said the review would make sure “that defense spending is responsibly increased.”
It will be overseen by current defense secretary John Healey, who said “at the start of a new era for Britain, we need a new era for defense.”
“The Review will ensure that Defense is central to the future security of Britain and to its economic growth and prosperity,” Healey added.
The defense secretary had urged NATO to consider moving toward a 2.5 percent goal at the 75th anniversary summit last week, with NATO allies having committed in 2014 to reach a 2-percent goal.
Other specific aims of the review include “bolstering Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression” and to “modernize and maintain the nuclear deterrent.”
Starmer at the summit recommitted to £3 billion ($3.9 billion) a year of military support for Ukraine until 2030-31.