BBC 2024-02-25 10:31:41


South Carolina primary: Donald Trump easily defeats Nikki Haley in her home state

Donald Trump is one step closer to the Republican presidential nomination after a massive win over Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

The former president won his primary opponent’s home state by a 20-point margin, his fourth consecutive victory.

As he celebrated Mr Trump made no mention of Ms Haley, who vowed to stay in the race. Instead he set his sights on the general election in November.

That will be a likely rematch with his successor in the White House.

“We’re going to look Joe Biden right in the eye,” he told supporters minutes after US media projected him as the winner on Saturday night. “He’s destroying our country – and we’re going to say ‘get out Joe, you’re fired’.”

Mr Trump lauded his party’s “unity” after Saturday’s result, saying: “There’s never been a spirit like this. I have never seen the Republican Party so unified.”

It marked a shift from his response to last month’s primary in New Hampshire, where he raged against Ms Haley for “doing a speech like she won”.

Ms Haley, who once served as a popular two-term governor of South Carolina, congratulated her opponent on his victory in her speech.

She promised not to quit, however, saying the roughly 40% of the vote she received was “not some tiny group”.

“There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primaries who are saying they want an alternative,” she said, emphasising that her continued campaign was not about her own political ambitions.

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she added.

She has re-committed to staying in the race until at least Super Tuesday – 5 March – when voters in 16 states will cast their ballots on the same day.

“I’m a woman of my word,” the former UN ambassador said. “We’re headed to Michigan tomorrow, and we’re headed to the Super Tuesday states throughout all of next week.”

The Trump campaign dismissed Ms Haley’s continued effort in a statement on Saturday, stating that her “delusion is clouding her judgement, and she is no longer living in reality”.

The Trump campaign has predicted the former president will accumulate enough delegates to formally clinch the nomination within the next month.

Ms Haley does not have a clear path forward – her opponent has a large lead in the delegate count and is polling far ahead in all future contests.

And yet the Haley campaign is still standing, in large part due to contributions from deep-pocketed donors. That flow of cash has continued despite her facing long odds.

Ms Haley raised $16.5m in January alone, campaign officials said. That was her largest monthly total so far, and much more than Mr Trump’s numbers.

To drive home the point that he believes the primary has now ended, Mr Trump wasted no time in making his victory speech moments after the race was called, not allowing Ms Haley to speak before him as she had done in New Hampshire.

Flanked at his podium on the Columbia state fairgrounds by nearly two dozen allies, including most of the state’s political leaders, he told a raucous crowd: “This was a little sooner than we anticipated.”

Mr Trump certainly has much to boast about with this win. Exit polling conducted by the BBC’s US partner, CBS News, shows that the ex-president bested Ms Haley with both men and women, and among all age groups.

Lauding them for their support, Mr Trump, 77, reminded his audience: “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

  • Who’s in running for Trump’s VP pick?
  • Defeat looms over Haley. So why stay in the race?

The former president also remains beleaguered by his many legal troubles, and faces the first of four criminal trials next month.

He is also now on the hook for more than half a billion dollars, the combined total of two recent civil trial rulings against him in New York – one for sexual assault and defamation, and another for business fraud.

As Mr Biden racks up a sizeable cash advantage over him in what will likely be the most expensive presidential race in US history, Mr Trump is increasingly relying on donations to cover his soaring legal costs.

It appears the Republican Party could come to his aid. He has consolidated his hold over it by endorsing key allies to lead its national committee.

His daughter-in-law Lara Trump, his pick to take over as co-chair of the Republican Party, has pledged to “spend every penny” of party funds on his legal defence.

Alexei Navalny: Dissent is dangerous in Russia, but activists refuse to give up

Following the death of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, another political prisoner is trying to keep the hope of change alive – even from behind bars.

“Freedom costs dearly,” the opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza once wrote to me from a Russian prison cell.

He was quoting his political mentor, Boris Nemtsov, who was murdered in 2015 in Moscow – right beside the Kremlin.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin’s biggest rival, Alexei Navalny, is dead.

  • Alexei Navalny: What we know about his death
  • Rosenberg: Dissent takes courage – and Navalny supporters are defiant
  • Navalny’s body returned to mother, spokeswoman says

The price of political opposition has never been higher in modern Russia or the goal of change so remote.

Such is the fear of reprisal that Navalny’s death did not spark mass, angry protests. Several hundred people were detained just for laying flowers in his memory.

But Mr Kara-Murza refuses to abandon either his fight or his hope.

This week he urged opposition supporters to “work even harder” to achieve what Navalny and Nemtsov had fought for: the chance to live in a free country.

He made his own choice, long ago. “The price of speaking out is high,” the activist wrote to me, soon after his arrest in 2022.

“But the price of silence is unacceptable.”

Strong men

Alexei Navalny, who was 47, and Vladimir Kara-Murza, 42, are very different men.

Navalny was a social-media phenomenon, a charismatic speaker with some of the egotism of a natural-born leader.

Mr Kara-Murza is a softly spoken intellectual – more back-room lobbyist than crowd-gatherer.

He’s not a household name in Russia even now.

But both men shared the same drive and a conviction that Putin’s Russia was not eternal and political freedom was possible.

Whilst Navalny produced video exposés of corruption at the highest level of power, Mr Kara-Murza lobbied Western governments for sanctions to target officials’ assets and cash stashed abroad.

Both have paid dearly.

In 2015, five years before Navalny was attacked with a nerve agent, Mr Kara-Murza collapsed and fell into a coma.

Two years later, it happened again. Tests in the US confirmed he had been poisoned.

But he never stopped speaking his mind, which included denouncing Mr Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Last year, Mr Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years for treason – although the charge sheet listed nothing but peaceful opposition activity.

Return to Russia

When Alexei Navalny chose to fly back to Russia in 2021 after an attempt to kill him, some thought him foolhardy.

Opposition figures who’ve chosen exile over imprisonment argue that sacrifice with no prospect of change is futile.

Navalny thought differently.

“If your beliefs are worth something, you have to be prepared to stand up for them. And if necessary, make some sacrifices,” he wrote shortly before he died on 16 February.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, like Navalny, has a wife and children. He also has residency in the US and a British passport. But he never hesitated about returning to Russia.

“I didn’t think I had the right to continue my political activity, to call other people to action, if I was sitting safely somewhere else,” Mr Kara-Murza wrote to me in 2022, already in prison.

For both men, it was an act of conscience.

Now one is dead and the other is locked up far from his family who’ve only been allowed one phone call in six months.

“I didn’t speak to him myself because I didn’t want to take time away from the kids,” Evgenia Kara-Murza described that call.

The activist’s wife allowed the three children five minutes each.

“I was standing there with a timer,” she said.

Strong women

This week, Navalny’s widow recorded a video statement urging his allies not to give up.

“I want to live in a free Russia, I want to build a free Russia,” said Yulia Navalnaya, vowing to continue her husband’s work.

  • Navalny’s widow faces daunting challenge
  • Navalny’s grieving widow vows to continue his work

Evgenia Kara-Murza was stunned by her bravery. “She’s doing her absolute best to go through hell with her head held high and she is amazing.”

But Mr Kara-Murza’s wife has taken on a demanding role of her own.

Since his arrest in April 2022, she’s been travelling the world, lobbying Western officials to help her husband and other political prisoners, and denouncing Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The invasion is more proof, as she puts it, of Putin’s “murderous regime”.

When we spoke, Evgenia was about to fly back to the US to see their children. She was then heading for London to call on UK ministers to step-up their efforts for Vladimir, a joint British-Russian citizen.

“I want them to be more forceful in trying to get him out, and demanding proper medical attention,” she said.

“But making one government care about its citizen is hard these days.”

Prison persecution

Mr Kara-Murza’s persecution has continued in prison, as it did for Navalny.

The activist has been held in solitary confinement for months and allowed no personal belongings, even photographs of his children.

In January, he was moved to a new prison with tougher conditions, deprived even of his books.

His health, damaged by the poisoning, is deteriorating. Pressure for Mr Kara-Murza’s release has intensified since Navalny’s death.

“The nerve damage is spreading to his right side now. It’s a serious condition that could lead to paralysis,” Evgenia Kara-Murza told me.

This week, she got a rare sighting of her husband on video link from prison to a Moscow court. He was trying to get the Investigative Committee to open a criminal case into his poisoning.

Mr Kara-Murza was in a black uniform that hung loose on his frame, a radical change from the Tweed jackets that were once his trademark.

But his resolve seemed firmer than ever as he urged Russians not to slump into despair.

“We don’t have that right,” he addressed the few supporters and reporters allowed into court, and he insisted that Russia would be free.

“No-one can stop the future.”

What future?

Evgenia Kara-Murza watched that video clip from court “a thousand times”.

“I think he’s doing the right thing – and a great thing,” she told me.

“People feel heartbroken and demoralised and those uplifting words from people who’ve refused to give in to pressure and intimidation are truly important.”

“I’m very proud of Vladimir for staying true to himself, despite this hell.”

Evgenia shares her husband’s faith in the future, as well as his strength. Even now, with so many activists in prison or exile.

“What’s crucially important is remaining a human being and trying to do whatever you can,” she argues.

“Not giving up.”

She points to the end of the USSR and the mass protests then that have always inspired her husband.

“There was nothing – until an opportunity for massive collective action appeared in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then people went out on the streets,” she says.

“We need to do everything possible to be ready for the moment when the regime shows cracks.”

“For when we get that chance.”

US and UK carry out fresh strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen

The Pentagon says US and UK fighter planes have carried out strikes on 18 Houthi sites in Yemen – the fourth such joint operation by the allies.

The US says Saturday’s strikes were directed against storage facilities, drones, air defence systems, radars and a helicopter of the militant movement.

The UK says the allies acted to “further degrade” Houthi capabilities.

There have been sustained attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis on shipping in the important Red Sea trade route.

The Houthis – who control large swathes of Yemen including the capital Sanaa – have been targeting vessels they say are linked to Israel and the West in response to the continuing Israel-Gaza war.

Global supply chains are now facing severe disruption and rising costs as a result of some of the biggest shipping companies diverting journeys away from the Red Sea – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

  • Who are the Houthis attacking Red Sea ships?
  • Navy Seals presumed dead after anti-Houthi mission
  • What do Red Sea assaults mean for global trade?

In a joint statement, the Pentagon said that Saturday’s “necessary and proportionate strikes specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen associated with Houthi underground weapons storage facilities, missile storage facilities, one-way attack unmanned aerial systems, air defence systems, radars, and a helicopter.

“These precision strikes are intended to disrupt and degrade the capabilities that the Houthis use to threaten global trade, naval vessels, and the lives of innocent mariners in one of the world’s most critical waterways.”

The statement said “the Houthis’ now more than 45 attacks on commercial and naval vessels since mid-November constitute a threat to the global economy, as well as regional security and stability, and demand an international response”.

The strikes were carried out “with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand”, the statement added.

Shortly afterwards, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin stressed that America “will not hesitate to take action, as needed, to defend lives and the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways”.

Separately, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said “it is our duty to protect lives at sea and preserve freedom of navigation”.

“That is why the Royal Air Force engaged in a fourth wave of precision strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen”.

The US military said earlier in the day that it had destroyed seven Houthi mobile anti-ship missiles that were being prepared for strikes.

Earlier this week, the crew of a Belize-flagged, British-registered cargo vessel abandoned ship off Yemen after it was hit by missiles fired by the Houthis.

England scrap towards lead of 200 against India

Men’s International Test Match Series – Day 3 of 5
IndiaIndia

First innings 307 all out

LIVEEnglandEngland

First innings 353 all outSecond innings 145 all out

Between Innings – India need 192 runs to win

SAG Awards 2024: Oppenheimer dominates ahead of Oscars

Oppenheimer continued its dominance of awards season as it scored several major prizes at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on Saturday.

Christopher Nolan’s film won best film cast, while Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr won individual acting prizes.

Accepting the top prize on behalf of the cast, Sir Kenneth Branagh said they were all “grateful, humbled and proud”.

The evening was peppered with remarks about the actors’ strike, which brought Hollywood to a standstill last year.

Paying tribute to the US actors’ union, Sir Kenneth said: “Thank you for fighting for us, thank you for every Sag-Aftra member whose support and whose sacrifice allows us to be standing here better than we were before.”

He recalled the night last July when the cast of Oppeheimer downed tools at the film’s London premiere as the strike began.

“We went from the red carpet, we didn’t see the film that night, we happily went in the direction of solidarity with your good selves, so this is a full circle moment for us,” he told the audience of actors.

“We are grateful and humbled and proud not just to be in Mr Nolan’s masterpiece, but proud to be in your company.”

The film, about theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, described as the father of the atomic bomb, is almost certain to win best picture at the Oscars next month following its success at SAG and other precursor ceremonies.

  • The winners and nominees at the SAG Awards
  • SAG Awards: The red carpet in pictures

The prize for best film cast is seen as the top honour at the SAG Awards in the absence of a best picture category. Winners at the annual ceremony, held in Los Angeles, are voted for by other actors.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy said his win was “extremely, extremely special to me, because it comes from you guys”.

He recalled: “Twenty-eight years ago when I was trying to become an actor, I was a failed musician, and I felt extremely like an interloper, but looking out on all of you guys here today, I know I’m part of something truly wonderful, so thank you so much.”

Best actor had been seen a two-horse race ahead of the Oscars on 10 March, but Murphy’s win gives him significant momentum over his nearest rival, Paul Giamatti of The Holdovers.

Elsewhere, Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone was named best leading actress – giving her own Oscars campaign a significant boost.

“This has been a hard year for all of us, those of us in this room, those not in this room, I’m so proud that we have gotten here in solidarity with all of our other unions,” she said in her acceptance speech.

  • Lily Gladstone: The actress who could make Oscars history
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  • Can anything stop Oppenheimer’s march to the Oscars?

“It’s truly a gift that we get to do this for a living. That’s the win, getting to be here, getting to be on set, getting to tell stories. We bring empathy into a world that so needs it.”

She added: “It’s so easy to distance ourselves, to close off, stop feeling, and [actors] all bravely keep feeling, it brings people out of the shadows, it brings visibility.”

Gladstone’s win leaves the Oscars category for best actress too close to call, following Poor Things star Emma Stone’s victory at last week’s Baftas.

The Holdovers star Da’Vine Joy Randolph was named best supporting actress, a prize she has won consistently throughout awards season and she is almost certain to take at the Oscars.

“I wake up every day overwhelmed with gratitude to be a working actor,” she said. “In what other profession are people able to live so many lives and touch so many hearts of those they have never gotten to meet?”

She added: “For every actor out there still waiting in the wings for their chance, let me tell you your life can change in a day, it is not a question of if, but when – keep going.”

Oppenheimer’s Robert Downey Jr, who has similarly been dominating his category, was named best supporting actor.

He described the award as “incredibly meaningful”, and acknowledged his Oscar front-runner status by asking: “Why me, why now, why do things seem to be going my way?”

Winners in the television categories included Ali Wong and Steven Yeun for Netflix’s road rage series Beef, and Pedro Pascal for post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us.

Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White were also recognised for kitchen comedy The Bear, while Elizabeth Debicki won best drama actress for playing Princess Diana in The Crown.

The Bear was named best ensemble comedy cast, while Succession won best ensemble drama cast for its critically-acclaimed fourth and final season.

“Not only did we all get to work on one of the best television shows, maybe ever, but we made friends for life,” said actor Alan Ruck as he accepted the prize on behalf of the cast.

Tributes were paid to Matthew Perry, Harry Belafonte, Sir Michael Gambon, Tina Turner, Angus Cloud, Glenda Jackson, Alan Arkin, Julian Sands, Lance Reddick, Lee Sun-kyun, Tom Wilkinson, Andre Braugher and Chita Rivera in the show’s In Memoriam segment.

The Devil wears Prada reunion

The Devil Wears Prada stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway were reunited to present the first award of the night.

Streep initially appeared to accidentally walk straight into the microphone stand – before explaining to the audience she did not have her glasses with her, or the envelope containing the winner.

The two actresses who played her on-screen assistants in the 2006 film then appeared with the envelope and glasses, before the trio delivered a joyous sketch featuring several of the movie’s most famous lines.

Presenting another category, Melissa McCarthy asked Billie Eilish to sign her forehead as she told the singer what a huge fan she was, and the casts of Modern Family and Breaking Bad reunited to present the awards for best comedy and drama ensemble cast respectively.

Idris Elba played host

The SAG Awards were streamed around the world on Netflix for the first time, something host Idris Elba referred to as he opened the ceremony.

“Personally, I can’t wait to get home, and have Netflix recommend this show to me,” the Wire star joked.

He also acknowledged what a “difficult time” it had been for actors during the recent strike, adding: “I want to take a moment to honour and appreciate all of you, both here and watching at home, who stood up in solidarity and support.”

Elba said the ceremony being streamed instead of broadcast on a TV network meant actors could swear in their acceptance speeches – but he urged them not to go “full Succession level”.

“Here’s a good rule of thumb, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in front of Oprah,” he said, to an audience which included Oprah Winfrey herself.

Barbra Streisand wins SAG lifetime achievement award

The Morning Show star Jennifer Aniston and Maestro’s Bradley Cooper presented this year’s lifetime achievement prize to veteran singer and actress Barbra Streisand.

“All of us in this room and far beyond have been inspired by Barbra’s magic,” Aniston said. “Barbra did not just pave the way for us women, she bulldozed it.”

Accepting her award, Streisand joked it was “such a wonderful award to get, because you know in advance you’re going to get it”.

Recalling her childhood, she said: “I didn’t like reality, I wanted to be in movies. Even though I knew I didn’t look like the other women on screen. My mother said ‘you’d better learn to type’. But I didn’t listen. And somehow, some way, it all came true.”

“It’s a privilege to be part of this profession. For a couple of hours, people can sit in the theatre and escape their own troubles – what an idea.”

She paid tribute to her fellow actors and directors, concluding: “I’ve loved inhabiting that magical world of the movies with you.”