Republican Jeb Bush ends 2016 presidential campaign

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Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on Saturday he was suspending his campaign after a disappointing finish in the South Carolina primary.

Bush, who also fared poorly in earlier contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, said the race had been “hard fought” but that voters of those three states had spoken. In what appeared to be a jab at Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, whom Bush has accused of lacking ideas, the former Florida Governor said, “ideas matter, policy matters.”

Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother to former President George W. Bush, entered the 2016 campaign as the favorite, but was unable to convert a sizable fundraising advantage into success at the polls.

~Reuters

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Trump wins decisively in South Carolina, Clinton clinches Nevada

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rolled to victory on Saturday in South Carolina in a contest that saw former Florida Governor Jeb Bush drop out, while Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton beat back a strong challenge from Bernie Sanders in Nevada.

The victories by Trump, who is running as an anti-establishment outsider, and Clinton, a preeminent political insider, solidified their positions as the front-runners to win their parties’ respective nominations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election.

The night’s most prominent casualty, Bush suffered a distant fourth place finish in the Republican contest and announced he had suspended his campaign, ending his dream of becoming a third Bush president after his father and brother.

“The people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision,” an emotional Bush said in Columbia. He finished far out of the running in each of the first three states.

By winning both South Carolina and New Hampshire and holding leads in 13 states that hold Republican contests on March 1, Trump was arguably on track to win the nomination, an outcome that seemed astounding to contemplate when he entered the race last summer.

“It’s going to be very difficult for him to be derailed at this point,” said Hogan Gidley, who was a senior adviser to former Republican candidate Mike Huckabee.

The 69-year-old real estate billionaire and reality TV star was declared the winner in South Carolina about an hour after polls closed, and launched into a feisty victory speech.

“Let’s put this thing away,” Trump told cheering supporters in Spartanburg.

He denounced TV pundits for saying there could be enough anti-Trump votes to beat him when the race thins further.

“These geniuses,” he said. “They don’t understand that as people drop out, I’m going to get a lot of those votes also. You don’t just add them together.”

Trump easily defeated Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who were in a close fight for second place and the right to declare themselves the anti-Trump alternative.

With 99 percent of South Carolina precincts reporting, Trump had 32.5 percent, followed by Rubio with 22.5 percent and Cruz with 22.3 percent.

Cruz’s inability to distinguish himself from Rubio in the state was a blow to his campaign, which had invested heavily there to rally support among South Carolina’s large population of evangelical voters.

Trump’s victory won him at least 44 of the state’s 50 delegates, bringing his delegate count to 61, compared to 11 for Cruz and 10 for Rubio, according to a tally by Real Clear Politics. Republicans need 1,237 delegates to win the party nomination.

 

~ Reuters

Bosnia applies for EU membership, hoping to make up ground

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Bosnia handed in its application for EU membership Monday, hoping to catch up with its neighbors on the EU path but confronting the reality that many in the country have grown tired of waiting for jobs and prosperity and are already voting with their feet.

President Dragan Covic submitted the application to the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister, Bert Koenders, in Brussels. The Netherlands currently holds the EU presidency.

“There is no way back for Bosnia-Herzegovina, we must catch up with our neighbors,” Covic said. He said the country will speed up the required reforms in the expectation that the EU will grant the country candidate status in 2017.

Bosnia first knocked on the EU door in 2008 when it signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the bloc, 13 years after the end of the bloody conflict that left the country ethnically divided. But unresolved wartime quarrels have hindered the necessary reforms as Bosnian Serbs feared for their autonomy within Bosnia. This frustrated the Muslim Bosniaks and some Bosnian Croats, who felt they were hostages to the Serb lack of will to reform the country at least enough to attract foreign investments that would kickstart the economy.

The stalemate has produced an unemployment rate over 40 percent and a general feeling of apathy among Bosnians. Every year, tens of thousands decide to leave the country.

In 2014, about 68,000 Bosnians, mostly aged between 25 and 40, permanently left the country of 3.8 million. For 2015, the figure will be 20 to 30 percent higher, parliamentarian Senad Sepic told the AP.

“The very substance that should be building this country is leaving,” he said.

Things only started moving with the EU application in 2014, when Bosnian Serbs split their votes between two blocks — one that favors the reforms and one that continues to pursue a separate Serb state. Pro-EU Serb officials managed to push for the required reforms, enabling Bosnia to submit Monday’s application.

“It is a day of celebration for all of us: only 20 years ago, it was in the Balkans where one of the most awful pages of European history was written,” said a joint statement from the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

But the recent progress comes too late for many. They are choosing to run toward the EU rather than limp there with Bosnia.

“Just from the town of Livno, 60 whole families left in January 2016 alone,” Sepic said. Livno is a town in the south of the country with 9,000 residents.

Germany is looking for 40,000 medical workers alone each year so in the past two years the number of applicants for German-language courses at the Goethe Institute in Sarajevo has doubled, and it keeps growing.

Amer Cekic, 20, a student of political science, attends the course because he believes it will help him find a job in Germany.

“I feel I have no future here,” he said.

In Sepic’s constituency of Cazin in the northwest of the country, the number of first-graders was down in 2015 by 40 percent compared with 2011. If the trend continues, there will be no first graders at all by 2022, Sepic says.

“And if there are no people left here, then the whole story of EU membership is pointless,” he said.

 

~ AP

India’s biggest student protests in 25 years are spreading to campuses across the country

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India’s biggest nationwide student protests in a quarter of a century spread across campuses on Monday after the arrest of a student accused of sedition, in the latest battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over freedom of expression.

Outrage over the arrest of the left-wing student leader, who had organized a rally to mark the anniversary of the execution of a Kashmiri separatist, has led to demonstrations in at least 18 universities.

In the largest protest, thousands of students and academics at New Delhi’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) boycotted classes and erected barricades for a fourth day in an escalating conflict with the authorities.

“The government does not want students to have a say,” said Rahila Parween, vice-president of the Delhi unit of the All India Students’ Federation, a left-wing student union. “It wants to dictate what students think, understand and say.”

The incident marks another flare-up in an ideological confrontation between Modi’s nationalist government and left-wing and liberal groups that is prompting critics to compare it with Indira Gandhi’s imposition of a state of emergency in the 1970s to crush dissent.

Members of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the student leader, Kanhaiya Kumar, of “anti-India” sentiment. One BJP lawmaker said the university, which has a tradition of left-wing politics, should be shut down.

 

~ Reuters

United Arab Emirates appoints first minister of happiness

 

The United Arab Emirates is not leaving the cheerfulness of its citizens to chance, appointing its first minister of happiness.

Ohood Al Roumi was sworn into the post this week, one of eight female ministers in the Persian Gulf nation’s 29-member Cabinet.

Al Roumi will be joined by a new minister of tolerance, Sheikha Lubna bint Khaled al Qasimi, previously the minister of foreign trade, who became the UAE’s first female minister in 2004.

Also joining their ranks will be Shamma AlMazrui, 22, the new minister of youth affairs.

~ CNN

 

 

Obama’s Supreme Court short list

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The president has a chance to make a big statement with his pick to replace Scalia.

 

The unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia immediately set lawyers and politicians talking about who would get the nod from President Barack Obama to fill Scalia’s slot.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s vow to not confirm any nominee during the remainder of Obama’s term creates an awkward dynamic around any potential pick.

Whoever is nominated will have to consider the possibility of being in limbo for a year or more, if the Senate fails to act during the election year. However, that person might also have a leg up on being nominated by Hillary Clinton, if she wins the nomination and the general election in November.

“It certainly is a lot for a person to take on to be the nominee in this heated political climate,” said Elizabeth Wydra of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

Here are a look at some of the leading possibilities to be Obama’s third nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Sri Srinivasan

D.C. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan is perhaps the most attractive potential Supreme Court nominee for Obama if the goal is to put pressure on McConnell to allow a Senate confirmation vote. Nominated by Obama in June 2012, Srinivasan was confirmed in May 2013 by a unanimous, 97-0 vote.

Democrats believe that unambiguous verdict on Srinivasan could make it awkward for McConnell to block a vote on his nomination.

A nomination of Srinivasan, 48, to the high court would make history: he was born in India and would be the first Indian-American Supreme Court justice.

Srinivasan is widely viewed as a moderate. He clerked for Republican-appointed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In a speech last October, Srinivasan seemed to relish maintaining stability in the law. He suggested that fears he and three other Obama appointees would dramatically change the balance in the D.C. Circuit were overwrought.

Paul Watford

Watford is an Obama appointee on the 9th Circuit and has been repeatedly mentioned as a potential Obama Supreme Court nominee. He was confirmed in 2012, by a 61-34 vote.

Watford, who’s in his late 40s, spent a decade as a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. Regarded as a moderate appointee, he was also a clerk to influential 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His list of judicial rulings is still fairly short, which can be an advantage in confirmation battles. Watford is African-American.

Patricia Ann Millett

Millett, 52, sits on the D.C. Circuit and is part of a slate of three nominees Obama put forward for that court in 2013. Those nominations triggered Republican threats of a filibuster and led Democrats to deploy the so-called nuclear option, changing Senate rules to prevent filibusters on judicial nominees below the Supreme Court level.

After considerable parliamentary maneuvering, Millett was confirmed by a 56-38 vote in December 2013.

~ Politico

150,000 Antarctica penguins die after iceberg traps them

 

Some 150,000 penguins died after a massive iceberg grounded near their colony in Antarctica, forcing them to make a lengthy trek to find food, scientists say in a newly-published study.

The B09B iceberg, measuring some 100 square kilometres (38.6 square miles), grounded in Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica in December 2010, the researchers from Australia and New Zealand wrote in the Antarctic Science journal.

The Adelie penguin population at the bay’s Cape Denison was measured to be about 160,000 in February 2011 but by December 2013 it had plunged to an estimated 10,000, they said.

The iceberg’s grounding meant the penguins had to walk more than 60 kilometres (37 miles) to find food, impeding their breeding attempts, said the researchers from the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Climate Change Research Centre and New Zealand’s West Coast Penguin Trust.

“The Cape Denison population could be extirpated within 20 years unless B09B relocates or the now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out,” they wrote in the research published in February.

Fast ice is sea ice which forms and stays fast along the coast.

During their census in December 2013, the researchers said “hundreds of abandoned eggs were noted, and the ground was littered with the freeze-dried carcasses of previous season’s chicks.”

“It’s eerily silent now,” UNSW’s Chris Turney, who led the 2013 expedition, told the Sydney Morning Herald Friday.

“The ones that we saw at Cape Denison were incredibly docile, lethargic, almost unaware of your existence.

“The ones that are surviving are clearly struggling. They can barely survive themselves, let alone hatch the next generation. We saw lots of dead birds on the ground. … it’s just heartbreaking to see.”

In contrast, penguins living on the eastern fringe of the bay just eight kilometers from the fast ice edge were thriving, the scientists said.

The researchers said the study had “important implications” for the wider East Antarctic if the current trend of increasing sea ice continued.

Sea ice around Antarctica is increasing, in contrast to the Arctic where global warming is causing ice to melt and glaciers to shrink.

Scientists believe the growth in Antarctic sea ice is largely driven by changes in wind and local conditions.

~ AFP