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Far-right surges in EU vote, topping polls in Germany, France, Austria

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Far-right surges in EU vote, topping polls in Germany, France, Austria

Far-right parties have made major gains in the European Union parliamentary elections, delivering humiliating defeats to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

In Germany, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took second place in Sunday’s EU election, underscoring the party’s resilience ahead of next year’s federal election.

The Eurosceptic party secured more than 16 percent of the vote, its best-ever showing and a higher share of the ballot than all three parties in Scholz’s coalition.

The conservatives, who are in opposition at the federal level, have been forecast to come first, rising slightly to 29.5 percent.

Germany’s Greens were the biggest losers on Sunday, falling by 8.5 percentage points to 12 percent, punished by voters for the cost of policies to reduce CO2 emissions – in line with expectations for environmental parties across Europe.

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Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the third coalition partner, the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), also fared poorly, expected to win 14 percent and 5 percent of the vote respectively, down from 15.8 percent and 5.4 percent in the previous election.

The results are in line with an expected broader shift rightwards for the European Parliament across the bloc of 450 million citizens.

The strong showing comes as Germany’s party landscape undergoes its biggest upheaval in decades, with new populist parties vying to take space vacated by the shrinking mainstream parties that have dominated since reunification in 1990.

This looks set to make it much harder for established parties to form workable coalitions, and is coarsening the political climate, say analysts. The campaign was overshadowed by a surge in violence against politicians and activists.

The AfD was plagued by scandals in recent months, with its lead candidate having to step back from campaigning in May after declaring that the SS, the Nazis’ main paramilitary force, were “not all criminals”.

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“We’ve done well because people have become more anti-European,” the AfD’s co-leader Alice Weidel said on Sunday.

“People are annoyed by so much bureaucracy from Brussels,” she added, giving a plan ultimately to ban CO2-emitting cars as an example.

 

In France, the National Rally party of Marine Le Pen dominated the polls to such an extent that Macron immediately dissolved the national parliament and called for new elections, a huge political risk since his party could suffer more losses, hobbling the rest of his presidential term which ends in 2027.

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Projected results from France put Le Pen’s far-right National Rally at about 33 percent, with 31 seats in the incoming European Parliament – more than double the score of Macron’s liberals, at 15 percent.

Macron acknowledged the scale of the defeat.

“I’ve heard your message, your concerns, and I won’t leave them unanswered,” he said, adding that calling a snap election only underscored his democratic credentials.

Austria’s far-right Freedom Party gained nearly 26 percent of the vote, topping a nationwide ballot for the first time.

The governing conservative People’s Party (OeVP) picked up 24.7 percent, followed by the Social Democrats with 23.2 percent and the Greens at 10.7 percent.

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Chancellor Nehammer pledged to address voters’ concerns ahead of national elections due to be held in Autumn, including cracking down on illegal immigration.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni saw her position bolstered after her right-wing populist Brothers of Italy won the most votes, exit polls showed.

Left-wing and green parties had a better showing in the Scandinavian countries, with far-right and populist parties in Sweden, Denmark and Finland seeing their vote shares decline.

In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s nationalist Fidesz won the most votes but lost significant ground compared with the 2019 elections.

Fidesz had 44 percent of the vote with nearly 90 percent of votes counted, down from 52 percent.

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Still, Orbán claimed victory in a speech to supporters at a party event on Sunday night.

“Today, we defeated the old opposition, the new opposition, and no matter what the opposition will be called the next time, we will defeat them again and again,” he said.

Orbán’s main challenger, Peter Magyar’s Tisza party, picked up about 30 percent of the vote.

Overall across the EU, two mainstream and pro-European groups, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists, remained the dominant forces. The gains of the far right came at the expense of the Greens, who were expected to lose about 20 seats and fall back to sixth position in the legislature.

Reporting from Berlin, Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen said that the Eurosceptic parties appeared set to form a large bloc in the next European Parliament.

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“With this very large bloc of far-right parties, there can be an influence on climate policies, for example … Also, [the EU’s] agriculture policies… and migration policies, which is a very important issue here in Germany and in the Netherlands,” she said.

However, Vaessen noted that the far-right parties are not united.

“They have a lot of divisions among themselves and they have been trying to reach out to each other. We’ve seen [France’s] Marine Le Pen, for example, reaching out to [Prime Minister] Giorgia Meloni in Italy,” she said.

“But after tonight, we will have to see how these groups will be formed and what kind of influence they will have.”

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Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead U.S. over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener

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Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead U.S. over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Christian Pulisic scored in the third minute and assisted on Folarin Balogun’s goal in the 44th as the United States cruised past Bolivia 2-0 in their Copa America opener on Sunday night.

Pulisic joined Clint Dempsey as the only U.S. players with a goal and an assist in a Copa America match and reached 30 goals in 69 international appearances, the fewest among Americans.

“We came out flying with a lot of intensity. Obviously, that early goal helped us a lot,” Pulisic said. “All around, a pretty dominant performance. I think we could have put it away and had more goals there.”

Among six invited guests to South America’s championship, the U.S. is expected to advance from Group C to the quarterfinals along with Uruguay.

“It’s a start that’s massive for us. Build the confidence,” American defender Antonee Robinson said. “If we were being picky, we could have been a lot more clinical. We could have put another two, three goals away.”

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Bolivia lost its 13th straight Copa America match dating to 2015 and has one win in its last 31.

“I’m not happy because I think we can deliver more. We had a match against an opponent that had a better physical performance,” Bolivia coach Antônio Carlos Zago said through a translator. “Minute three there was a goal, and it was downstream from there.”

The 11th-ranked U.S. plays Panama on Thursday at Atlanta and closes the group against Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri. No. 84 Bolivia meets Uruguay on Thursday at East Rutherford, New Jersey, then plays Panama on July 1 at Orlando, Florida.

A crowd of 47,873 attended the match under the retractable roof at 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal in two years. It was 97 degrees Fahrenheit outside (36 Celsius) the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys at kickoff but air-conditioned inside.

Playing a day before his 30th birthday, goalkeeper Matt Turner had three saves in his 25th international shutout. The U.S. improved to 6-0 at AT&T as the Americans opened their fifth Copa America appearance, the first since reaching the semifinals as host in 2016.

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The U.S. had 18 touches inside the attacking penalty area in the first half and Bolivia had none.

Pulisic put the U.S. ahead 2:23 in, the fastest American goal in 34 competitive matches against South American opponents. He played a short corner kick to Tim Weah and ran toward the penalty area. Weah returned the ball to Pulisic, who took a touch and from just inside the area curled a right-foot shot off the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra and into the far upper corner.

Balogun doubled the lead when he received a pass from Pulisic, took several touches and threaded a low, left-foot shot along the ground, past defender Jesús Sagredo and inside Viscarra’s far post for his fourth goal in 13 appearances.

Balogun put the ball in the net again in the 53rd off a pass from Weah, but Weah was whistled for offside when he received the ball from Weston McKennie in the buildup, a decision confirmed in a video review.

Midfielder Tyler Adams, regaining fitness after a back injury, played the first half in his first start for club or country since March 30. Adams and Bologun were inserted into the starting lineup in place of Yunus Musah and Ricardo Pepi in the two changes from the lineup for the 1-1 exhibition draw against Brazil on June 12. Musah replaced Adams at the start of the second half and Pepi entered in the 65th.

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Viscarra pushed Pepi’s 79th-minute shot over the crossbar, then stopped Pepi in the 90th on a point-blank initial attempt and another off the rebound.

___

AP Copa America coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/copa-america

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Data used for Gaza famine claims changing as expert cautions 'no one seems to be trying to explain why'

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Data used for Gaza famine claims changing as expert cautions 'no one seems to be trying to explain why'

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Dire warnings from the United Nations, the U.S. EU and aid organizations of mass starvation and famine among civilians in northern Gaza seem to be overstated, according to some experts.

“Leaders said that thousands of children were going to die, and it didn’t materialize, and no one seems to be trying to explain why,” David Adesnik, senior fellow and director of research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Fox News Digital. Adesnik has been tracking recent increases in food availability in northern Gaza that have gone without comment from researchers and the media.

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The first warning of famine came on March 18 in a report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Famine Review Committee (FRC), which stated famine was “projected and imminent” in northern Gaza and the Gazan governorates. Without “an immediate political decision for a ceasefire together with a significant and immediate increase in humanitarian and commercial access to the entire population of Gaza,” the FRC stated that there would be a markedly increased “impact on mortality and the lives of Palestinians.”

A day following the report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed the report, noting during a press conference in the Philippines that “according to the most respected measure of these things, 100% of the population in Gaza is at severe levels of acute food insecurity. That’s the first time an entire population has been so classified.”

CIGARETTE SMUGGLING HAS CRIPPLED AID DELIVERY IN GAZA AS SMOKES GO FOR $25 APIECE

Palestinians shop for food and clothes at a bazaar in Jabalia, northern Gaza, on Jan. 15, 2024. (Mahmoud Shalha/Anadolu via Getty Images)

By May 31, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), reported that it was “possible, if not likely, that all three IPC thresholds for Famine…were met or surpassed in northern Gaza in April.”

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On June 4, the FRC released a different prognosis, contradicting the FEWS NET’s results and stating they were not “plausible.” Among the reasons cited for disagreement was their finding that “while FEWS NET estimated the caloric availability in the area as covering only 59%- 63% of the needs…in April, the review done by the FRC estimates that this range would be 75% to 109% if commercial and/or privately contracted food deliveries were included,” and “157% if a higher estimate was used.”

Fox News Digital reached out to both the IPC and FEWS NET about the differences between their most recent reports. The IPC said that FRC analysts were unable to respond as they were at work on a forthcoming report, due for release on June 25, about conditions throughout Gaza.

Jabalia, Gaza.

A Palestinian woman works in a makeshift kitchen in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on June 20, 2024. (OMAR AL-QATTAA/AFP via Getty Images)

FEWS NET pointed out that where FRC suggested there was not enough evidence to determine barriers to accessing aid, FEWS NET “observed significant challenges in both physical and financial access.”

“Analysis of acute food insecurity does not (and should not) only consider available supply, but access to and utilization of available food,” FEWS NET explained.

FEWS NET also stated that “when combining FEWS NET’s estimate of kilocalories available from food assistance with FEWS NET’s estimate of kilocalories available from subsidized bread from [World Food Programme (WFP)]-supported bakeries and [Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories]-facilitated commercial/private sector food commodities, the differences between FEWS NET and the FRC’s estimates are not significant. FEWS NET estimates that these three sources combined offer a total supply of nearly 150% of caloric needs in the month of April.”

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GROWING CONTROVERSY OVER BIDEN’S GAZA PIER FUELS CONCERNS OVER COST, SECURITY

Eggs are shown at a street market in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on June 21, 2024.

Eggs are shown at a street market in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on June 21, 2024. (Majdi Fathi/TPS-IL)

Adesnik, however, pointed out that FEWS NET’s original assessment did not include calories obtained through World Food Program (WFP) bread or commercial and private sector foods, noting that the FRC found that “FEWS NET simply ignored 940 tons of sugar, flour, salt and yeast that the World Food Program delivered to north Gaza bakeries. The tone of the FRC review is always respectful, yet it exposes the extent to which FEWS NET made indefensible assumptions that all serve to underestimate Israel’s efforts to help more food reach the people of northern Gaza.” 

While Adesnik said that without question “hunger persists in northern Gaza and there is a deep need for humanitarian assistance,” he also said that the “stark differences” between FEWS NET and FRC’s assessments “underscore the subjectivity inherent in famine assessments, along with the potential for politicization.”

As an example, Adesnik noted that a lack of humanitarian aid reaching Gazans was “an integral part of the charges” that the International Criminal Court leveled against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant on May 20 when they issued arrest warrants for the men. The ICC believes Netanyahu and Gallant “bear criminal responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Among the allegations the men face is that they “plan[ned] to use starvation as a method of war.” 

Cindy McCain

U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director Cindy McCain (United Nations via Reuters Connect/File)

Adesnik said that “regardless of whether the situation in Gaza improved because the famine declaration was premature or because Israel facilitated dramatically more shipments of food in March and April, this just shows how laughable the ICC’s charges are.”

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Fox News Digital reached out to the ICC to ask whether they would change their assessment that Israeli officials intentionally starved Gazans based on FRC findings about food availability in April, prior to charges being filed. The ICC responded by directing Fox News Digital to its statement announcing war crimes charges against Israeli and Hamas leaders.

STUDY SAYS FOOD AID MEETS QUALITY, QUANTITY FOR GAZANS AS UN, ICC SAY ISRAEL STARVING CIVILIANS

IDF forces in Rafah

IDF forces are seen operating in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. (IDF Spokesman’s Office)

Other institutions likewise seem reticent to acknowledge that the dire threats said to be “imminent” in March have not come to pass.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the WFP’s Hunger Hotspots outlook on food insecurity from June to October notes that “in Palestine, over 1 million people – half of the population of the Gaza Strip – is expected to face death and starvation (IPC Phase 5) by mid-July.” 

In response to Fox News Digital’s questions about whether the FAO planned to amend its report based on the FRC’s latest information on food availability in Gaza, the FAO news team stated that the organization would wait until the FRC released its updated report to revise its assessment.   

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UN aid workers in Gaza

Humanitarian aid trucks from the U.N. and World Health Organization wait to enter the central Gaza Strip on Apr 25, 2024. (Majdi Fathi/TPS)

A State Department spokesperson responded to Fox News’ requests for comment about the disparities between FEWS NET and FRC reporting by expressing concern about the “more than 2 million people and the most rapid onset of the levels of food insecurity that we’ve ever seen.” Noting that neither FRC nor FEWS NET confirmed that a famine was ongoing, the spokesperson said that “Gaza remains in a dire food security crisis with unacceptable rates of child malnutrition and elevated levels of associated sickness and deaths. And the whole point of measurements and early warning is to spur action now and not wait until it’s too late, and we’ve definitively reached a specific threshold.” 

The increased aid entering Gaza has been affected in recent weeks by cigarette smuggling that “now threatens United Nations aid convoys.” Attacks on convoys thought to hold coveted cigarettes have led the U.N. to stop picking up aid, according to Israel’s TPS news agency.

Citing the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the TPS reported that 285 aid trucks were transferred to the Gaza Strip from the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings. Of these, “only 88 aid trucks were collected by U.N. aid agencies and the private sector.” According to COGAT, “over 1,000 trucks” and “hundreds of aid pallets” await collection and distribution.

“The U.N. needs to scale up,” COGAT posted online on June 20, sharing an aerial video of unclaimed aid in the JLOTS collection and distribution compound.

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People buy food at a market in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on June 21, 2024.

People buy food at a market in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, on June 21, 2024. (Majdi Fathi/TPS-IL)

The WFP’s country director for the Palestinians, Matthew Hollingworth, recently stated in an interview with CNN that “in terms of our operations, we have been able to bring more food into the north over the past few weeks, which has improved access to basic food commodities for people there, but we need to diversify the assistance given. It’s not enough to have basic food commodities. There needs to be basic health care, there needs to be water and sanitation, otherwise, we won’t turn the curve on famine.”

The WFP spokesperson did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment about whether Hollingworth believed famine to be impending in Gaza.

As various entities continue to indicate that Israel’s efforts to aid the civilian population have fallen short, FRC’s assessment is in line with a study by academics and public health officials in Israel who found that aid entering the Gaza Strip could provide for the population of 2.4 million and meet its nutritional needs.

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Netanyahu says war will continue even if ceasefire deal agreed with Hamas

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Netanyahu says war will continue even if ceasefire deal agreed with Hamas

The Israeli prime minister reiterated he would not agree to any deal that calls for an end to the eight-month war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that he is open to a “partial” deal that would facilitate the return of some captives still held in Gaza, even if not all.

He reiterated, however, that he would not agree to any deal that stipulated an end to Israel’s war on Gaza, despite previous claims by the United States that an Israeli proposal would be a pathway to ending the offensive.

“The goal is to return the kidnapped and uproot the Hamas regime in Gaza,” he said in an interview with Israeli media outlet Channel 14 on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Israelis have consistently rallied against Netanyahu and his government, demanding early elections and a deal to return the captives.

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People attend a demonstration against Netanyahu’s government and call for the release of captives in Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel [Eloisa Lopez/Reuters]

Last month, US President Joe Biden announced a proposal for a ceasefire, which would see a six-week pause in fighting as well as the release of some Israeli captives in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. These exchanges would then enable negotiations for a permanent ceasefire.

While US officials have insisted that Israel authored the proposal, various Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have pledged to continue fighting until Hamas is eliminated, and have refused to publicly endorse it fully.

Netanyahu also told Channel 14 that Israel’s “intense” military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah was nearly over.

“The intense phase of the fighting against Hamas is about to end,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that the war is about to end, but the war in its intense phase is about to end in Rafah.”

‘Civilian administration’

Netanyahu, in his first interview with an Israeli news outlet since the war in Gaza began, once again rejected the idea that the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority run Gaza in place of Hamas.

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“We also want to create a civilian administration, if possible with local Palestinians and maybe with external backing from countries in the region, to manage humanitarian supply and later on, civilian affairs in the Strip,” he said.

“At the end of it, there’s two things that need to happen: we need ongoing demilitarisation by the [Israeli military] and the establishment of a civilian administration.”

The Gaza Strip has been gripped by more than eight months of war since a Hamas-led attack on Israel led to the deaths of 1,139 people, with dozens still held captive in Gaza.

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza has since killed at least 37,598 people, according to the Palestinian territory’s Ministry of Health.

Troops to move towards Lebanon

Netanyahu said troops would soon be deployed to the northern border with Lebanon but for “defensive purposes”.

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“After the intense phase is finished, we will have the possibility to move part of the forces north. And we will do this. First and foremost for defensive purposes. And secondly, to bring our [evacuated] residents home,” Netanyahu told Channel 14.

“If we can we will do this diplomatically. If not, we will do it another way. But we will bring [the residents] home,” he said.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced from northern Israel and southern Lebanon, which have seen near-daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters since the war in Gaza began.

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