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Ex-South Carolina gov defeats Trump in Washington DC first primary

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By Francesca Hangeior

Former Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley has defeated former President of the United States Donald Trump in the Republican primary in Washington DC.

Her victory was the first over the former president in the 2024 campaign to become the Republican presidential candidate.

Haley lost in South Carolina, her home state, but she has emerged the first woman to win a Republican primary in US history.

Trump, however, has a huge lead over Haley and is likely to face Joe Biden in the November election, according to BBC.

The BBC’s US partner CBS reports that Haley will receive all 19 Republican delegates who were up for grabs in Washington DC, giving her 43 delegates nationwide – well behind Trump’s 247.

Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, won 62.9% of the vote, to Trump’s 33.2%.

It is seen as a largely symbolic win, as the capital is a heavily Democrat-leaning jurisdiction, with only about 23,000 registered Republicans in the city.

Local party officials said 2,035 Republicans participated in the primary, the Washington Post reported.

Haley’s campaign national spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas said: “It’s not surprising that Republicans closest to Washington dysfunction are rejecting Donald Trump and all his chaos”.

The Trump Campaign, however, was quick to dismiss Haley’s win, calling her the “Queen of the Swamp”.

“While Nikki has been soundly rejected throughout the rest of America, she was just crowned Queen of the Swamp by the lobbyists and DC insiders that want to protect the failed status quo. The swamp has claimed their queen,” Trump Campaign press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, said.

Trump has dominated every state primary or caucus so far in the Republican campaign, and is poised to win more delegates this week, on Super Tuesday, when voters in 15 states and one US territory will nominate their candidate. It is the biggest day of nominating contests, with 874 Republican delegates’ support at stake.

Haley has vowed to stay in the race until at least 5 March, when thousands of people will cast their votes on Super Tuesday.

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It’s called democracy’ – Trump defends trying to influence election

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The prosecution in Donald Trump’s trial has insisted that the former President “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star, Stormy Daniels.

The prosecution said this on Monday in its opening statement in Trump’s criminal trial.

However, the defense countered that “there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election – it’s called democracy”.

Apart from hearing the opening statements from both sides, the trial also briefly heard from its first witness, David Pecker.

Pecker was the former publisher of the National Enquirer, a central figure in Trump’s alleged crimes.

A jury of seven men and five women living in Manhattan will weigh whether Trump’s alleged efforts to conceal an affair with Daniels, which he feared would damage his bid for the White House, were illicit.

The former President was dragged to court with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the early 2023.

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One Killed, 7 Missing As 2 Japanese Navy Helicopters Crash In Pacific Ocean During Training

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One person has been killed while seven others are missing after two Japanese navy helicopters carrying eight crew members crashed in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo during nighttime.

The two SH-60K choppers from the Maritime Self-Defense Force were carrying four crew each and lost contact late Saturday near Torishima island, about 600 kilometres (370 miles) south of Tokyo, the country’s Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters.

AP reports that Kihara said the cause of the crash was not immediately known, but officials believe the two helicopters “highly likely” collided before crashing into the water.

The navy chief of staff, Adm. Ryo Sakai, said training involving the SH-60s will be suspended until the cause of the crash is determined and preventive measures are adopted.

Rescuers recovered a flight data recorder, a blade from each helicopter, and fragments believed to be from both choppers in the same area, signs that the two SH-60Ks were flying close to each other, Kihara said.

Search and rescue efforts for the missing crew were expanded Sunday with the deployment of 12 warships and seven aircraft. Japan Coast Guard patrol boats and planes also joined the operation.

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Togo’s parliament approves constitutional reforms extending Gnassingbé’s rule

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Togo’s parliament has given approval to a new constitution that extends President Faure Gnassingbé’s term.

The parliament on Friday gave the approval which shifts the West African nation from a presidential to a parliamentary system of government.

It also modifies both the term limits and methods of presidential election.

The reforms enable Gnassingbé to remain in power until 2031, after which he could be appointed to the new position of “president of the council of ministers”.

The new arrangement, when effective, transforms the president to prime minister – continuing his family’s 57-year rule.

The parliament initially passed the amendment in March.

However, further consultations and a second parliamentary vote were scheduled due to fierce backlash.

Opposition groups said the reforms amounted to a constitutional coup, but Yawa Tségan, human rights minister, said the move will “improve democracy in the country”.

Gnassingbé came to power in 2005 after the death of his father, who took over the coastal West African country in 1967 via a coup.

Violent police crackdowns on political demonstrations have been routine under Gnassingbe, as they were during his father’s rule.

Groups of civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in the amendments.

Other West African countries which have made constitutional reforms to allow presidents extend their tenures in office include Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast, and Guinea.

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