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Billionaire Ross Perot, former independent presidential candidate, dies at 89

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Ross Perot, a Dallas billionaire and a former independent candidate for president, has died at 89, according to a spokesperson for the Perot family.

Perot died early Tuesday morning at his home in Dallas, surrounded by family, spokesperson James Fuller said in a statement.

Perot made his mark in the computer services industry, founding both Electronic Data Systems and Perot Systems, in 1962 and in 1988, respectively. In 1992, Perot ran unsuccessfully for president as an independent candidate — but he drew a notable 19% of the vote, which was the best showing of any third-party candidate in nearly a century. Perot ran a second time for the job in 1996.

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As news of Perot’s death set in Tuesday, statements from current and former public officials poured in.

“Texas and America have lost a strong patriot,” former President George W. Bush said in a statement. “Ross Perot epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed. He gave selflessly of his time and resources to help others in our community, across our country, and around the world. He loved the U.S. military and supported our service members and veterans. Most importantly, he loved his dear wife, children, and grandchildren.”

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement that “we have lost a true Dallas icon.” Perot, he added, “personified the American dream and will be sorely missed.”

Perot was born on June 27, 1930, in Texarkana, to Gabriel Ross and Lulu May Perot. Perot, growing up in the Depression era, often helped his father by selling horse saddles and, later, horses. He sold Christmas cards and garden seeds. And he sold newspapers in one of his town’s poorest neighborhoods.

Perot graduated from Texarkana High School in 1947 and enrolled at Texarkana College, where he served as class president. From there, Perot, who said he had never seen the ocean or a ship, went to the U.S. Naval Academy. After his stint in the Navy, Perot joined International Business Machines in Dallas as a salesman, quickly rising through the ranks.

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In January 1962, Perot filled his sales quota for the year. By June, though, Perot had decided it was time to head out on his own. With money saved from work and from the teaching salary of his wife, Margot, he founded Electronic Data Systems, an information technology services company. He later founded Perot Systems, another company that helped to lay the groundwork for the future technology era.

Before Perot decided to run for office, he was appointed to various committees and task forces by elected officials from both political parties in Texas. In 1979, then-Gov. Bill Clements, a Republican, tapped Perot to lead the Texas War on Drugs to toughen the state’s drug laws and increase public awareness. In 1984, then-Gov. Mark White, a Democrat, asked Perot to spearhead a statewide education reform initiative.

In 1992, Perot ran for president as a third-party candidate — and his historic percentage of the vote prompted some Republicans to blame him for President George H.W. Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton, a Democrat. During that 1992 campaign, Perot spent over $63 million of his own money and used charts and graphs that included what became his soundbite: “It’s just that simple.”

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In 1996, when Perot ran again for president, his bid was less successful. He received 8% of the vote.

Perot made headlines in other ways, too. In 1979, the Iranian government jailed two employees of Electronic Data Systems in Tehran. Perot organized a mission to free them, which was recalled later in a book and a TV series. Before that, during the Vietnam War, Perot worked with families of prisoners of war to raise awareness for men who had either gone missing or were being held captive.

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Later, during the first Gulf War, Perot spearheaded an initiative to study brain damage some soldiers experienced once they returned home. That research was later recognized as Gulf War syndrome, and it led to federal funding to help treat those who experienced such symptoms.

Perot is survived by his wife, Margot, whom he was married to for 62 years, and his five children.

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Putin vs Zelensky: Two very different presidents face off on Monday

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When Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky meet on Monday it will be an encounter between two very different presidents -- one an establishment strongman with years of experience, the other a neophyte rebel learning the ropes.

The Russian and Ukrainian presidents will be holding their first face-to-face talks in Paris at a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

For Putin, it will be a chance to take further steps to reduce Russia's isolation over its 2014 annexation of Crimea and backing for eastern Ukrainian separatists.

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Air of menace as Britain’s election gets nasty

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Candidates hoping to be elected to parliament in Britain have faced all manner of threats and abuse in a particularly hostile campaign, with some worried for their safety when out canvassing.

When one man on Facebook threatened a violent attack on Dominic Graham, the would-be MP immediately called the police, who made an arrest.

It was far from an isolated case in the run-up to Thursday's snap polls, called on the increasingly divisive issue of Brexit.

Graham is standing for the third time for the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit altogether.

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Soldiers fear Zelensky will give ground on Ukraine frontline

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A volley of gunfire breaks the silence of a foggy day on the frontline in Ukraine, but no one really pays attention.

More than the shots, it's the possibility that President Volodymyr Zelensky will be making concessions to Russia that has soldiers here worried.

"Pulling us out would be like pissing on the graves of our boys," says Mykola, a 41-year-old private in the trenches near the city of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine.

"They gave up their lives so we could be here."

Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be meeting in Paris on Monday for their first face-to-face talks since the Ukrainian comedian-turned-president took office in May.

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