West Des Moines—Nikki Haley criticized Democratic-controlled Washington on Thursday evening as she outlined her vision for the Republican Party and banked political favors in a key state ahead of a possible 2024 presidential bid.
A critic of former President Donald Trump before becoming his United Nations ambassador for two years, Ms. Haley headlined the Republican Party of Iowa’s biggest gathering of the year. Her speech to about 500 people, which received a standing ovation at its conclusion, focused more on the current president than his predecessor.
“ Joe Biden has been a gift to every country that hates America and wants to hurt us. He’s the polar opposite of Donald Trump,” she said. “I saw firsthand as ambassador to the United Nations how Donald Trump put America first—sometimes in the most interesting of ways.”
The former South Carolina governor said the party needs to balance toughness with respectfulness.
“Republicans are too nice,” she said. “I wear heels—it’s not for a fashion statement—I use them for kicking. But I always kick with a smile.”
Ms. Haley, who is spending three days in Iowa as part of traveling the nation to help Republicans raise money for next year’s midterm congressional elections, kept her remarks focused on 2022 goals.
“This Republican Party and the American people will take back our country from Joe Biden and the radical left,” she said. “Today’s Democrats don’t just blame America. They don’t even believe in America. And that’s why they don’t deserve to lead America.”
Two spokesmen for the White House didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Ms. Haley suggested that her party needs to reconnect with its roots.
“We are not the party of woke corporations,” she said. “We are not the party of taxpayer bailouts and government dependency. The Republican Party stands for economic freedom. Capitalism is economic freedom and we should never apologize for it.“
Ms. Haley’s Lincoln Dinner appearance, a high-profile stop in the state that is expected to host the first GOP presidential nomination balloting in 2024, gave her a chance to introduce herself to activists and offer contrition to supporters of Mr. Trump that she may have offended in the past.
Earlier this year, Ms. Haley told Republican National Committee members that Mr. Trump would be “judged harshly by history” for his behavior after November’s election. She also told Politico she didn’t think the former president was going to be “in the picture” when it came to the party’s future because he had “fallen so far.”
Ms. Haley has since softened her tone, telling reporters in April that she won’t embark on a 2024 White House bid if Mr. Trump decides to run again. Her back and forth regarding the former president has left some questioning Ms. Haley’s political compass.
“She is ambitious and capable, but I think she suffers from the disease of not knowing what lane she is in,” said Doug Gross, a Des Moines lawyer and Republican political operative who has held Iowa leadership roles for past presidential campaigns. “You have to decide who you are.”
Ms. Haley’s spokeswoman declined to comment on that criticism, but offered a statement in response.
“Iowa is a top target for D.C. Democrats in 2022,” said Chaney Denton. “Ambassador Haley’s priority is taking back the House and Senate and electing conservatives up and down the ballot.”
On Friday, Ms. Haley is slated to visit a central Iowa farm for a lunchtime event that is expected to attract 50 to 100 people, including some younger Republicans. She will also attend fundraisers benefiting the state’s governor, two members of Congress and Iowa House Republicans during her trip.
In a straw poll conducted as part of last weekend’s Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Ms. Haley ranked 13th for support among potential GOP presidential candidates in the still-unformed field. The unscientific survey had Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the most-liked, slightly ahead of Mr. Trump.
Mr. Gross, who is skeptical that Mr. Trump will run again, said he expects a large number of potential candidates to make Iowa trips in the coming months under the cover of campaigning for state and congressional candidates ahead of next year’s midterm elections. “Everyone will try to be in the Trump lane and there will be one lane for a non-Trump person,” he said.
Mr. Trump has said he is unlikely to reach a final decision about a third White House campaign until after the midterms, contests where he intends to play a key role handpicking candidates and punishing those who have crossed him. He is scheduled Saturday to hold his first campaign-style rally since leaving office, an event in northern Ohio sponsored by his Save America political-action committee.
A Quinnipiac University poll released late last month showed roughly two-thirds of Republicans would like to see Mr. Trump run again, while about two-thirds of Americans overall don’t want him to make another White House bid.
Ms. Haley’s appearance is the first in a series of coming Iowa visits by possible GOP presidential candidates. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is scheduled to travel next week to one of the state’s most conservative counties, while former Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak at a mid-July event sponsored by an influential organization of social conservatives.
While the visits might seem early, they aren’t by historical standards. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, another potential 2024 Republican candidate, traveled to Iowa less than two weeks after the 2012 presidential election ahead of his unsuccessful 2016 White House bid.
Scott Henry, whose family is hosting Ms. Haley on their nearly 10,000-acre farm in central Iowa, said he would like to see the GOP move beyond Mr. Trump.
“There are a lot of good things that Trump did, but at the same time there are other people who can carry the torch for this party,” said Mr. Henry, who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 and 2020. “There is an opportunity for us as a party to restore some of the statesmanship, while still not disenfranchising people who think Trump is the only person who understands their views.”
Myanmar: Catholic priest, catechist abducted by armed group
An armed resistance group opposed to Myanmar’s military junta in the western state of Chin has seized a Catholic priest and a catechist travelling with him.
Members of the Chinland Defence Force (CDF) seized Father Noel Hrang Tin Thang along with a catechist while they were travelling from Surkhua town to Chin state capital, Hakha on July 26, UCA News reported. Both belong to Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Surkhua in Hakha Diocese.
Local Bishop Lucius Hre Kung of Hakha has called for their release, expressing concern for their safety and well-being nearly a week after their abduction.
“I call on the concerned leaders of the CDF to immediately release the pair,” Bishop Hre Kung said in a letter released on August 1. Local Catholics have also expressed concern and said prayers for the immediate release of the cleric and the catechist.
Father Tin Thang has been helping numerous of displaced people including the elderly, women and children who took refuge in the parish following clashes in early June, according to sources.
Following the letter of Bishop Hre Kung, the CDF said the priest and catechist were in good health.
The group accused the priest of giving information to the military junta, getting medical support from the junta and urging locals to receive the junta’s support. The group said it had warned the clergy not to contact the military’s security force, and they had to arrest Father Tin Thang as he failed to comply. “We will release them only after our demands of transferring the priest from Surkhua to Hakha and signing letters of recommendation from two church leaders are fulfilled,” the group said.
However, according to the Italian news agency, AGI, the priest and the catechist were arrested in Hakha while buying medicines for the people of Surkhua. The local community denies Father Tin Thang had any involvement with the security force.
Father Paul Thla Kio, a priest of Hakha Diocese told the Vatican’s Fides news agency that the CDF has seen Father Tin Thang having contacts with a general of the army. Father Thla Kio explained that the general, who is a Catholic and attends Masses, often went to the priests’ residence. In fact, Father Tin Thang asked the general to avoid violence.
Civil resistance groups
The ousting of Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her elected government by the military on February 1, has thrown the nation into chaos with nationwide protests, strikes and a civil disobedience movement, demanding the restoration of the government and the release of their leader. There have been no signs of a letup in the bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s military on its opponents in a bid to consolidate its hold on power. The offensive has re-ignited the military’s old conflicts with some of the armed ethnic organizations as well as numerous independent civil resistance groups.
The CDF is one of these civil resistance groups fighting the military. Using homemade weapons, the CDF has inflicted heavy casualties among junta forces in a conflict that erupted in Chin state in May. Clashes are still raging and more than 18,000 people have been displaced in Chin state and neighboring Magway and Sagaing divisions, according to a United Nations report on July 30. During the conflict, priests have been targeted, with the military arresting eight priests from Chin and Kachin states and Mandalay division in May and June.
Christians are a minority in the predominantly Buddhist country, accounting for 6.2 percent of its 54 million population. Myanmar Catholics represent about 1.5 percent of the population.
Areas occupied by the Kachin, Chin, Karen and Kayah ethnic groups, who have been facing oppression and persecution at the hands of the military for decades, are largely Christian.
Thousands of innocent civilians in have been displaced by the conflict. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Myanmar, over 220,000 people have been displaced by conflicts and insecurity since the coup.
Myanmar’s complex crises
The serious political, socio-economic, human rights and humanitarian crises generated by the coup, have been exacerbated by a raging third wave of Covid-19 infections, with an acute shortage of oxygen and near absence of the most basic healthcare.
Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing marked 6 months since the coup on Sunday by taking on a new title as prime minister of a newly formed caretaker government. The military-backed State Administration Council (SAC) that was formed after the Feb. 1 coup, has now been reformed as a caretaker government. The junta leader promised fresh multi-party elections in 2 years, saying he will cooperate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on finding a political solution to the country.
Israeli Archaeologists Find 3,100-Year-Old Alphabetic Inscription
The ancient inscription was found inside a storage pit at Khirbat er-Ra‘I, an archaeological site some 3 km northwest of Tel Lachish in Israel.
It was written in ink on a jug, a small personal pottery vessel that holds approximately one liter, and may well have contained oil, perfume, or medicine.
It contains the letters yod (broken at the top), resh, bet, ayin, and lamed, and remnants of other letters.
“The name ‘Jerubbaal’ is familiar from Biblical tradition in the Book of Judges as an alternative name for the judge Gideon ben Yoash,” said Professor Yossef Garfinkel from the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University and Dr. Saar Ganor from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“In Biblical tradition, he is then remembered as triumphing over the Midianites, who used to cross over the Jordan to plunder agricultural crops.”
“According to the Bible, Gideon organized a small army of 300 soldiers and attacked the Midianites by night near Ma‘ayan Harod.”
“In view of the geographical distance between the Shephelah and the Jezreel Valley, this inscription may refer to another Jerubbaal and not the Gideon of Biblical tradition, although the possibility cannot be ruled out that the jug belonged to the judge Gideon.”
“In any case, the name Jerubbaal was evidently in common usage at the time of the Biblical Judges.”
Inscriptions from the period of the Judges are extremely rare and almost unparalleled in Israeli archaeology.
“As we know, there is considerable debate as to whether Biblical tradition reflects reality and whether it is faithful to historical memories from the days of the Judges and the days of David,” the archaeologists said.
“The name ‘Jerubbaal’ only appears in the Bible in the period of the Judges, yet now it was also discovered in an archaeological context, in a stratum dating from this period.”
“In a similar manner, the name ‘Ishbaal,’ which is only mentioned in the Bible during the monarchy of King David, was found in strata dated to that period at the site of Khirbat Qeiyafa.”
“The fact that identical names are mentioned in the Bible and also found in inscriptions recovered from archaeological excavations shows that memories were preserved and passed down through the generations.”
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