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Republican Debate: Insults fly as rivals step up attack

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Donald Trump unleashed fiery, off-colour rhetoric at Thursday’s Republican debate after enduring a day of intense criticism by party leaders, as conservatives agonise over embracing his divisive candidacy or derailing his march to the nomination.

But despite escalated attacks against Trump by his rivals on the debate state, each one of them — Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, and Ohio Governor John Kasich — acknowledged they would support the party’s eventual nominee.

With the real estate tycoon apparently on a glide path to becoming the Republican standard-bearer, some panic has set in at the prospect of Trump winning the nomination.

Other operatives and voters said it is time, for better or worse, to rally around the man leading the pack.

With the bitter rivals gathered at a pivotal moment in the campaign, the debate attacks turned deeply personal, even vulgar. Trump made a startling if veiled reference to his genitalia as he hit back against Rubio for mocking the size of Trump’s hands.

“Nobody has ever hit my hands,” Trump said as the raucous crowd laughed and booed.

“He referred to my hands. If they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem.” Rubio excused his own attacks by insisting it was Trump who opened the flood gates.

“Donald Trump has basically mocked everybody with personal attacks,” Rubio said. Trump’s remarks, likely unprecedented in a US presidential debate, appeared as the nadir of a campaign season already notable for its unruly, coarse tone.

With Trump thrown on the defensive, he lashed out multiple times, at one point hurling insults and talking over his rivals.

“You’ve defrauded the people of Florida, little Marco,” he said. Florida votes on March 15 and is Rubio’s firewall, even though Trump leads there in polls. If he cannot win his home state, Rubio will find no path to the nomination.

Kasich, who is scrambling to avoid irrelevance in the fierce nomination contest, said he hoped the race could focus on important policy issues and not the “scrums” and personal debasement on display Thursday.

“People say wherever I go: ‘You seem to be the adult on the stage,’” Kasich said.

With time running out to stop Trump, Mitt Romney — who ran unsuccessfully against Barack Obama in 2012 — on Thursday offered up some of the harshest criticism yet, lambasting Trump as unfit to be president.

Romney said a Trump nomination would enable a Democratic victory for the party’s presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” Romney said in a speech in Utah, as he urged voters to support one of the remaining candidates.

Trump, Romney said, “is playing the American public for suckers.” Trump wasted little time in striking back, calling Romney a “choke artist” and assailing him for “begging” for an endorsement, only to lose to Obama four years ago.

Romney still holds sway with certain elements of the party, but even Kasich downplayed the influence that the 2012 nominee would have on 2016.

“Mitt Romney is a great guy, but he doesn’t determine my strategy,” Kasich said at the debate.

Trump ‘disaster’

The debate, broadcast on Fox News, took place in the largest city in Michigan, the biggest prize of the four states holding Republican primaries next Tuesday.

Whether or not Trump should carry the torch is now the crux of the GOP race, which he has dominated essentially since he jumped in eight months ago.

Cruz insisted “the stakes are too high” to let Trump be the nominee, arguing that Clinton will eat him alive ahead of the November election.

“Is this the debate you want playing out in the general election?” Cruz asked viewers, arguing that Trump’s legal problems with his closed university and his financial contributions to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign would spell huge trouble.

“Nominating Donald would be a disaster,” Cruz said.

Trump insisted he was the only one capable of defeating Clinton. “I have not started on Hillary yet,” Trump said. “Believe me, I will start soon.” When Fox moderators pressed Trump on some of his changing political positions on the Iraq war and admitting Syrian refugees, Trump defended his flip-flopping.

“I have a very strong core,” he insisted, “but I’ve never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible.” Trump proceeded to reverse a plank of his own immigration plan, saying he now supports an increase in visas for highly skilled foreign workers.

“I changed my tune,” Trump said.

“There’s a difference between flexibility, and telling people whatever you need to get them to … do,” Rubio interjected.

The debate occurred on a day thousands of conservatives gathered at an annual convention near Washington, with many expressing concerns about Trump.

But House Republican Steve King, who backs Cruz, said forcing a party implosion just to stop a popular candidate was not the answer.

“We should not change the rules just because you don’t like the person that emerges in the leadership,” King said.

With Ben Carson’s exit from the race this week, the field of Republican candidates has now been narrowed to four, but any number of predictions that GOP voters would unite behind one anti-Trump candidate have come and gone without a change in the overall dynamic.

Trump, with 10 state victories, leads the field with 329 delegates. Cruz has 231, Rubio 110 and Kasich 25. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the Republican nomination for president.

AFP

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I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to same powerful forces – Prince Harry shares his fear about Meghan Markle

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Prince Harry has shared his fears for his wife, Meghan Markle who has been subjected to “bullying” by the British Media in the last few months. 

In a lengthy emotional statement shared on Tuesday October 1, the Duke of Sussex revealed that they have instituted legal action against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over the publication of a private letter which their lawyers said was “unlawful.”

“There comes a point when the only thing to do is to stand up to this behaviour, because it destroys people and destroys lives. Put simply, it is bullying, which scares and silences people. We all know this isn’t acceptable, at any level. We won’t and can’t believe in a world where there is no accountability for this” Prince Harry said. 

“Though this action may not be the safe one, it is the right one.

“My deepest fear is history repeating itself. I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditised to the point that they are no longer treated or seen as a real person. I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to same powerful forces - Prince Harry shares his fear about Meghan Markle

35-year-old Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana was one of the most photographed women on the planet after she got married into the British royal family. She died in 1997 when her car crashed in a Paris tunnel while being chased by photographers. 

Prince Harry added: “Unfortunately, my wife has become one of the latest victims of a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences – a ruthless campaign that has escalated over the past year, throughout her pregnancy and while raising our newborn son. There is a human cost to this relentless propaganda, specifically when it is knowingly false and malicious, and though we have continued to put on a brave face – as so many of you can relate to – I cannot begin to describe how painful it has been.”

Prince Harry said the newspaper had “purposely misled (readers) by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words.”

I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to same powerful forces - Prince Harry shares his fear about Meghan Markle

However Mail on Sunday denied the claim, insisting they will be defending their case vigorously. 

“The Mail on Sunday stands by the story it published and will be defending this case vigorously,” said a spokesman.

“Specifically, we categorically deny that the Duchess’s letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning.”

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North Korea agrees to meet with US officials to resume nuclear talks after 8 months stand off

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North Korean officials have agreed to meet with United states government officials this weekend to resume nuclear talks after almost 8 months of stand off, according to a report by North Korea’s state news agency KCNA published Tuesday.

This comes weeks after former US National Security adviser, John Bolton, a well known anti-North Korea hawk, was sacked by Donald Trump on Twitter for his differences with the US president on North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran.

Months earlier, North Korean negotiators said they will be unwilling to negotiate with the US if they maintain their hawkish demands of unilateral disarmament and if John Bolton remains on the negotiating team, after the US and North Korea failed to reach any nuclear agreement and Trumped walked out during the last summit between the US and North Korea in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Kim wanted sanctions relief in exchange for partial disarmament but after Trump rejected such demands, North Korea has run several short-range missile tests angering US allies Japan and South Korea.

Citing a statement issued by North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, KCNA reported the two countries will make preliminary contact on Friday before sitting down for working-level talks Saturday.

“The delegates of the DPRK side are ready to enter into the DPRK-U.S. working-level negotiations,” Choe said in the statement, according to Reuters. The foreign minister used North Korea’s official name, which is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“It is my expectation that the working-level negotiations would accelerate the positive development of the DPRK-U.S. relations,” Choe said.

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Robert Mugabe buried in a steel coffin encased in concrete as family claims people are ‘after his body’

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The bizarre burial of Robert Mugabe saw the former Zimbabwean leader interred in a steel-lined coffin under a layer of concrete on Saturday, following a bitter dispute over his resting place between government officials, traditional leaders and family members.

Twenty-two days after he died, the body of the strongman was finally buried next to his home with second wife Grace Mugabe in Kutama, Zvimba, the village of his birth, 55 miles north west of Harare.

His eldest nephew, Leo Mugabe, who played a central role in the prolonged burial drama, said the coffin which brought his embalmed body to Harare from Singapore had to be changed for security reasons.

 “People really are after his body or his body parts, so we wanted something that is tamper-proof. That is why the casket was changed,” he told a local radio station.

After the coffin was lowered into the ground in a private ceremony close to the home which Grace Mugabe had built after their marriage, concrete was laid down around it.

Mugabe’s family claimed that this was the burial place he had ultimately wanted and had spoken of in the last six months of his life in Singapore, angry that he had been ousted from power two years ago by his long-time ally, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mrs Mugabe, 54, draped in heavy black lace for more than three weeks, had made it clear to all who would listen that Mr Mnangagwa and his loyalists were not welcome at the burial. Had he been buried at Heroes Acre, the burial ground commissioned by her late husband and the resting place preferred by the government, she would not have been able to prevent their attendance. Crucially, it would also have meant him being buried next to his first wife, Sally Mugabe, still regarded by many as the “mother” of the Zimbabwean nation.

Grace Mugabe had claimed that her late husband did not want to be interred at Heroes Acre, the burial ground and national monument which also holds the grave of his first wife, Sally
Grace Mugabe had claimed that her late husband did not want to be interred at Heroes Acre, the burial ground and national monument which also holds the grave of his first wife, Sally Credit: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Amid various conflicting claims over his wishes, Mugabe, who died of cancer aged 95, had reportedly also said that he wanted to be buried next to his mother elsewhere in Zvimba. Leo Mugabe asserted that this was not possible due to a lack of space – although The Telegraph ascertained that there was in fact plenty of available ground within a few yards of his mother’s ornate grave. 

Last week, Mrs Mugabe had come up with another proposal, saying she wanted her late husband buried in the grounds of their Harare mansion, informally known by locals as the Blue Roof. 

But the Harare City Council said that was not possible as the land was not a cemetery. Mrs Mugabe then also discovered that the title deeds of the multi-million pound home, with massive landscaped grounds, lake and wildlife, was in the name of a company owned by the ruling Zanu PF party. 

In a late twist in the saga, the Mugabe family had finally agreed, after negotiations with traditional leaders and the government, that the former president could after all be buried at Heroes Acre. But this was on the condition that a mausoleum would be built for him on the crest of the hill overlooking hundreds of graves of his former colleagues, mainly from the war against Rhodesian minority white rule. 

 Mugabe’s sons, Robert Jnr and Chatunga, agreed the site of the mausoleum, and building began – only for the plan to be changed again. The costs of the abandoned preparations are not known. 

The official funeral service for Mugabe, attended by 11 African heads of state, was held two weeks ago in a half empty stadium in Harare.

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