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Florida Republican Governor Seeks to Thwart Trump’s White House Return

Florida’s Republican Party governor, Ron DeSantis, has officially entered next year’s presidential election, vying to face the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, incumbent President Joe Biden. But first he will first have to vanquish a one-time ally and now formidable foe: the former president, Donald Trump.

DeSantis’ first words as a presidential candidate were delayed when a 90-minute Twitter Spaces audio chat, with hundreds of thousands of online listeners Wednesday evening, suffered multiple technical glitches, including long periods of silence when neither the moderator, the candidate nor Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, could be heard.

There was a smoother rollout of DeSantis’ first campaign video in which he declared: “I’m running for president to lead our great American comeback.”

Polls show the Florida governor, who is 44, running a distant second to Trump, who turns 77 next month.

“Polls are helpful. They can establish where we are in this point of time in the race. But this thing is wide open,” according to Daniel Cox, who is director of the Survey Center on American Life at the American Enterprise Institute.

DeSantis was polling higher several months ago. But his popularity was hurt nationwide by him referring to the war between Ukraine and Russia as a territorial dispute, lackluster meetings with wealthy donors and a perceived failure to connect with individual voters.

Since then, DeSantis appears to be learning from his missteps, observes the chair of the governance studies program at the Brookings Institution, William Galston.

“Even if he doesn’t have a naturally warm and gracious personality – as for example (former President) Richard Nixon did not – he can learn to be somewhat more sociable, to look people in the eye, to engage with them more on their terms and not on his own,” says Galston. “So there are some observers who think that his campaign hit bottom a couple of weeks ago and is now trending back up.”

Trump’s support remains firm among much of his traditional base of conservatives — especially those without a college education or higher incomes. But the Florida governor is showing strength with another element of the Republican core.

“Trump was thought to be the favorite among white, evangelical Christians, but polling shows, at least at this stage, that they seem to like DeSantis just as well and he doesn’t seem to have an advantage among that particular constituency,” Cox tells VOA.

Trump, twice impeached as president, takes credit for transforming DeSantis from an obscure congressman into a two-term governor. Trump once enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship with the politician who is now his strongest intra-party nemesis in the presidential race.

Trump has already warned DeSantis, whom he tried to dissuade from running, he will relentlessly attack his foe, an approach that in 2016 helped Trump vanquish the entire Republican primary field and eventually end up at the White House.

“Merit must trump identity politics,” DeSantis said on Twitter Wednesday evening. He also delivered several other thinly veiled jabs in Trump’s direction, such as declaring that “governing is not entertainment, not about building a brand or virtue politics.”

What made headlines, however, were the long interruptions of silence during the online event, blamed by Twitter owner Elon Musk on the platform’s servers overloading.

Media outlets as diverse as Fox News, The New York Times and Politico referred to the launch discussion on Twitter as a technical disaster.

Both Trump and Biden, on their social media accounts, made light of the meltdown.

“This link works,” declared the Joe Biden Twitter account, providing a link to the incumbent’s re-election campaign site.

Trump, on his Truth Social platform, declared: “Wow! The DeSanctus TWITTER launch is a DISASTER! His whole campaign will be a disaster. WATCH!”

Twitter Spaces moderator David Sacks, an entrepreneur and DeSantis donor, tried a positive spin.

“We’ve got so many people here we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign,” he said.

For DeSantis to overcome Trump, who has been charged with several crimes, he will need to deliver more forceful rhetoric about the Republican frontrunner, according to Galston, who has worked on five Democratic presidential campaigns.

“And if Mr. DeSantis wants the Republican nomination, which he clearly does, he cannot go around Donald Trump. He has to go through Donald Trump. He is going to have to show as much strength in dealing with Trump as Trump is trying to demonstrate in dealing with him,” Galston of Brookings tells VOA.

Some political observers see a DeSantis primary victory more likely if Trump defeats himself.

“I think one of the things that the DeSantis team is counting on is Trump to be his own worst enemy – to make the election all about him and grievance politics, whether it’s the fact of him claiming losing the 2020 election, even though he did, or that people are being mean or disloyal to him. I think that repels a lot of voters who might otherwise support him,” says Cox.

DeSantis’ team is also hoping that Republican primary voters, in a highly polarized political environment, will be swayed by his ultra-conservative track record in Florida.

As governor, DeSantis has outlawed abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, curtailed gay and transgender rights and waged a highly publicized battle against The Walt Disney Company, an entertainment juggernaut, which is the state’s second-largest private employer.

The governor now finds himself shifting focus from Mickey Mouse to Donald Trump.

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Bodies of 18 Migrants Who Died While Being Smuggled Into Bulgaria Are Returned to Kabul 

The bodies of 18 Afghan migrants who died while being smuggled into Bulgaria were returned to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Taliban government’s Foreign Ministry said. 

Bulgarian authorities discovered the bodies in a secret compartment below a load of lumber in the back of a truck left on a highway not far from the capital, Sofia, in February. 

They confirmed all 18 had died of suffocation. Bulgarian authorities detained seven people in connection with the deaths. The director of Bulgaria’s National Investigation Service described the case as the country’s deadliest involving migrants. 

Borislav Sarafov, the director, said the migrants were “pressed against each other like in a tin can,” which had caused their slow and painful deaths. He described it as “an extraordinary human tragedy.” 

The ministry’s deputy spokesman in Kabul, Zia Ahmad Takal, said his government paid for the repatriation of the bodies. He blamed the Bulgarian legal process for their delayed return and the “cruel banking restrictions” imposed on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021 following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country. 

Takal said the bodies were handed back to the families and urged Afghans not to risk their lives on illegal smuggling routes. 

Another 34 Afghan migrants on the same truck survived the ordeal, but they were dehydrated and suffered frostbite. They had entered Bulgaria from Turkey, hoping to reach Western Europe. 

Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, they have imposed measures in line with their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. 

They have barred women from public spaces and banned girls’ education beyond the sixth grade. The international community has decried the Taliban’s actions, leading to the country’s further isolation as it faces an economic crisis and drought threat.

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UN Moves Sudanese Refugees in Chad Away From Border

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, is moving tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees in Chad away from the Sudan border and into new camps. The UNHCR’s visiting deputy says concerns about security and access to aid are increasing, along with the number of refugees. Henry Wilkins reports from the Gaga refugee site in Chad.

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Return of Chinese Tourists to Thailand Has Pros, Cons

Thailand’s tourist industry hoped for a quick revival when Beijing ended its zero-COVID policy late last year, unleashing a crush of Chinese travelers freed from pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Data from Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports showed that more than 517,000 Chinese travelers visited Thailand during the first three months of 2023, up from 13,700 arrivals during the first quarter of 2022. In the first quarter of 2023, Chinese travelers were in the top five groups of foreign arrivals, along with Malaysian, Russian, South Korea and Indian visitors.

Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told VOA Thai that fewer Chinese travelers than expected arrived in the first quarter of 2023, but that their numbers were expected to pick up as agencies promoted Thailand to Chinese eager to travel after three years of lockdowns.

In 2023, Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Council predicted that the country’s gross domestic product would grow 2.7% to 3.7%, with tourism expected to benefit such sectors as restaurants and services.

Amonthep Chawla, head of research at CIMB Thai Bank, told VOA Thai that he “expected a lot more Chinese tourists coming to Thailand by the second half of this year, which could benefit four areas — chained budget hotels, medical tourism, condominium market and business travelers for FDI [foreign direct investment] and trade.”

Paul Pruangkarn, chief of staff at the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Bangkok, told VOA Thai he agreed that the resumption of travel and the reopening of China were welcome sights for many businesses looking to rebuild and recover. Chinese travelers, he noted, “made up approximately 20% of all visitors to Thailand” before the pandemic.

Some analysts, however, cautioned that the economic benefits from an increase in Chinese tourists might be exaggerated.

“I think there is too much hype about the benefits of the return of Chinese tourists and tourism overall for several reasons,” said Kobsidthi Silpachai, head of capital markets research at Thailand’s Kasikornbank.

One reason, he said, was the apparent return of zero-dollar tourism, or cheap travel packages aimed at Chinese tourists on a budget.

“Chinese operators have invested in condos and shops, which has provided initial capital infusion, something like what happened in Cambodia,” Kobsidthi wrote in an email to VOA Thai. “But afterwards, there is little trickling effects to spread the wealth to the local economy.”

Paisarn Suethanuwong, a travel business operator and a member of the Professional Tourist Guides Association of Thailand in Bangkok, questioned the considerable growth of businesses aimed at Chinese patrons.

“Some shops are nicely decorated, and I have never seen any customers eating there, but they are still operating,” he said. “Honestly, I wonder if they are opened for money laundering. If so, then this not normal growth.”

Rerngrit La-ookit, a barista from Cloud Cafe in northern Chiang Mai, said the influx of Chinese tourists has a downside.

“The arrival of the zero-dollar tour has been consuming our resources, and the economy here has never grown anywhere else,” said Rerngrit.

While the return of Chinese tourists is a boon to many in Thailand, the country’s law enforcement agencies have seen an increase in crimes committed by Chinese.

Surachate Hakparn, deputy national police chief, told VOA Thai that Thailand’s law enforcement agency had launched a crackdown on Chinese criminal groups operating illegal businesses. The number of such businesses has risen not only in Thailand but also in other Southeast Asian countries in recent years.

Surachate said Chinese nationals’ illicit operations — so-called gray businesses — involve drug trade and human trafficking through service establishments such as pubs and bars.

VOA Thai Service’s Pinitkarn Tulachom and Yiamyut Sutthichaya contributed to this report.

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Winds intensify as Super Typhoon Mawar batters Guam


A Category 4 typhoon hit Guam on Wednesday, packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour (225 kmh) and torrential rain, as it inched across the Western Pacific Ocean, but there were no early reports of deaths or injuries.

The most powerful typhoon to hit Guam in years slowly passed over the Western Pacific island on Thursday after battering the U.S. territory with intensifying wind gusts of up to 150 miles per hour (240 km per hour) and torrential rain.

Early reports following daybreak on Thursday had yet to show any deaths or serious injury, but news was slow to come in after power was knocked out for all but 1,000 of the island’s 52,000 homes and businesses, according to the Guam Power Authority.

The eye of Super Typhoon Mawar tracked just north of Guam early Thursday, moving northwest at a sluggish 8 mph (13 kph), delivering rainfall of up to 2 inches (5 cm) per hour overnight, the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) said.

Images posted on social media showed ominous clouds drifting over beaches, rains lashing buildings and winds bending palm trees.

Wind speeds placed the storm in Category 4, the second-strongest designation on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale, and just short of Category 5.

Danger persisted even as the storm moved away from Guam, home to about 170,000 people including about 10,000 U.S. military personnel, the NWS said.

“We’re still a little bit concerned about some of these outer bands. As this thing is intensifying, the wind field is increasing faster than the motion away from the island,” said Landon Aydlett, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Guam.

But people in Guam take typhoons seriously and typically hunker down in reinforced concrete structures, Aydlett said.

Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero promised in a social media post to provide an update as soon as officials were safely able to survey the damage.

“I ask you to please stay home until I declare Condition of Readiness 4,” she said in the video. The island remained at COR 1 at daybreak.

She has compared the storm to 1962’s Typhoon Karen, which flattened much of the island.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. Navy ships were headed to Guam to help with recovery efforts if needed.

President Joe Biden, who has approved an emergency declaration authorizing federal assistance for Guam, was briefed on the typhoon, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday.

“The White House is in close contact with the government of Guam and has offered as much support as needed to this tragic, tragic major storm,” Jean-Pierre said.

Related Galleries:

Trees sway in strong winds from typhoon Mawar in Tamuning, Guam, May 24, 2023 in this still image obtained from social media video. Video taken through a window. Instagram @rachel.j_____/via REUTERS

Trees sway in strong winds and rain, amid typhoon Mawar, at the Guam Plaza Resort & Spa, in Tamuning, Guam, May 24, 2023 in this still image obtained from social media video. Jun Manalac/via REUTERS

A view of a fallen tree due to strong winds from typhoon Mawar, in Dededo, Guam May 24, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Anna Alexis/via REUTERS

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What Ron DeSantis said as he launched his 2024 White House race


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stands in this screen grab from a social media video posted May 24, 2023 as he announces he is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Twitter @RonDeSantis/Handout via REUTERS

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday he would seek the 2024 Republican nomination for president, vowing to build a wall on the border with Mexico and not restrict usage of Bitcoin.

Here is a selection of his quotes:

“We will move on day one by declaring a national emergency. We will construct a border wall. We will make sure we have remain-in-Mexico… And we really need to hold the Mexican drug cartels accountable because they’re facilitating a lot of this migration.”

“I think this whole ESG movement is really trying to do through the financial sector what they could never achieve through the ballot box… We will not be a free society if major financial institutions can do through the economy what people could not achieve through the ballot box.”

“You have every right to do Bitcoin. The only reason these people in Washington don’t like it is because they don’t control it. And they’re central planners, and they want to have control over society. And so Bitcoin represents a threat to them… I just do not have an itch to have to control everything that people may be doing in this space. And I think that the current regime clearly they have it out for Bitcoin and if it continues for another four years, you know, they’ll probably end up killing it.”

“They want to be treated differently than Universal and SeaWorld, and we don’t think that that’s appropriate. So, you know, I think that they should withdraw the lawsuit, but obviously, we’re going to defend our actions because we think we have the right to do what we did.”

“Buckle up when I get in there because the status quo is not acceptable, and we are going to make sure that we re-constitutionalize this government. And these agencies are totally out of control. There’s no accountability, and we are going to bring that in a very big way.”

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all news | Deutsche Welle: Киссинджер: Вина за войну в Украине лежит не только на Путине

К войне в Украине, в том числе привело обсуждение принятия страны в НАТО, считает бывший госсекретарь США Генри Киссинджер.

1990162 all news | Deutsche Welle

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Audio Posts In Russian

РИА Новости: КНДР разработала линейку баллистических и крылатых ракет, заявил посол


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Audio Posts In Russian : Новости: В МЧС опровергли данные о возгорании в здании Минобороны в Москве

Столичный главк МЧС прокомментировал данные о возгорании в здании Минобороны в Москве.


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