France heads to polls for second round of elections
France heads to the polls today for the second round of the country’s parliamentary elections, just weeks after April’s presidential vote. President Emmanuel Macron is in danger of falling short of a parliamentary majority after the first round of voting saw his centrist camp tied with a left-wing coalition led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Last weekend’s ballot put Ensemble ahead of NUPES, but the advantage was razor-thin: Ensemble secured 25.75% of the popular vote to NUPES’ 25.66% nationwide. Thanks to France’s electoral system, however, the outcome will only be decided this Sunday when two top candidates from nearly all 577 constituencies go head-to-head. Most analysts expect Macron’s bloc to win the knockout round by luring more moderate voters away from far-left. Even so, Macron could lose his parliamentary majority and possibly be forced into a coalition government with right-wing parties, dashing his plans for wide-reaching economic reforms. The 44-year-old president wants to raise retirement age from 62 to 65, cut taxes and further deregulate the labour market. He has also pledged to build more nuclear power plants, and build up an economy that aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
Thousands march in London over cost of living crisis
Thousands of people have marched in London to protest against the government’s lack of action in tackling the cost of living crisis. Protesters marched from Portland Place to Parliament Square for a rally with speakers including Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, which organised the event. She was met with applause and cheers as she gave a speech to the crowd. Demonstrators carried banners reading “cut war not welfare” and “end fuel poverty, insulate homes now”. The TUC said there was “harrowing” evidence of the impact the crisis on families, with workers suffering the “longest and harshest” squeeze on earnings in modern history. Workers have lost an average of almost £20,000 in cumulative earnings since 2008 because pay has not kept pace with inflation, the TUC said, adding that it was the biggest loss of “real wages” since the 1830s.
Putin ‘will use nukes if necessary’ after warship violates NATO space
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is ready to use nukes to protect his country although he is not threatening the world with them. In a speech at the St Petersburg Economic Forum, Putin said: “We are not threatening! But everyone needs to know that we have it and we will use it if necessary to protect our sovereignty.” The outburst comes after one of Russia’s warships violated the territorial waters of NATO member Denmark in what has been described as an “unacceptable Russian provocation”. Denmark’s military said a Russian corvette entered its waters in the early hours of Friday near the island of Christiansoe in the Baltic Sea. Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said they had communicated in very clear terms to the Russian ambassador that this type of action was completely inadmissible.
Zelensky praises troops in visit to southern front line
Ukrainian President Zelensky has paid another visit to troops on the front lines. He praised soldiers holding forward positions as brave and hard-working, vowing the country will prevail. A video posted to Mr Zelensky’s official Telegram account on Saturday showed the President in his trademark khaki t-shirt, handing out medals and posing for selfies with the troops in what appeared to be an underground shelter in the southern Mykolaiv region. The President’s office did not say when he made his latest trip to see troops. Zelensky said in the video: “Our brave men and women. Each one of them is working flat out. We will definitely hold out. We will definitely win.”
Putin sending large number of reserve troops to Sievierodonetsk
The governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region has said Russia is sending a large number of reserve troops to Sievierodonetsk from other battle zones to try to gain full control of the frontline eastern city. Serhiy Gaidai said on national television Russian forces already controlled most, but not all, of Sievierodonetsk.
Moscow gas cuts: ‘nothing to fear, supply exceeds demand’
Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi has sought to put the Italian concumers’ mind at rest after the Russian Gazprom suplied Italy only 50 per cent of its needs. “At the moment there are about 30 million cubic metres of Russian gas per day but Italy is able to have now an offer around 200 million. Even with a 100% cut, we would survive winter,” he said. Descalzi highlighted in particular the increase in gas from Algeria. “Algerian gas, through the contracts we have signed, has more than doubled: at the moment the Algerians are giving 64 million cubic metrres through pipes, four million through LNGand probably millions more in the coming weeks through other agreements.”
‘We will not end up in recession – Gentiloni
European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni has said there are the conditions to avoid a recession, to prevent the European economy from going into a crisis similar to that of 10 years ago. Speaking in Bologna, he emphasised one is to ensure a transition towards renewable energies that would allow us to diversify supplies.
Biden takes a fall from his bike
President Biden fell awkwardly while trying to dismount from his bike at the end of a weekend ride at Cape Henlopen State Park near his beach home in Delaware, but he wasn’t hurt in the tumble. “I’m good,” he told reporters after US Secret Service agents quickly helped him up, “I got my foot caught [in the toe clips].” Biden, 79, and first lady Jill Biden were wrapping up a morning ride when the President decided to pedal over to a crowd of well-wishers standing near the bike trail.
Man, 66, asked whether he was pregnant
Over nearly 50 years, Leslie Sinclair has given a formidable 125 pints of blood. But on his last trip he was turned away after refusing to answer a question on whether or not he was pregnant. Mr Sinclair, 66, was told to fill in a form which asked whether he was expecting a child or had been pregnant in the past six months. When he complained that as a man in his 60s this question did not apply and he should not have to answer it, Mr Sinclair said staff at the clinic told him they could not accept his blood. The stand-off took place as NHS England launched a campaign earlier this week to recruit a million more blood donors over the next five years after numbers fell during the pandemic.
Two Netflix actors dead and six injured in car crash
Two actors have died and six other crew members have been injured, after a van carrying crew from Netflix show ‘The Chosen One’ was involved in a severe car crash. Actors Raymundo Garduno Cruz and Juan Francisco Gonzalez Aguilar both died from the injuries sustained in the turn-over crash in Baja California Sur peninsula. Netflix confirmed the news in a statement on Saturday night. ‘The Chosen One’ had been shooting close to the scene of the crash earlier this week “Two other cast members and four crew members were injured but remain stable. Investigations are ongoing on the reasons for the accident, and production was paused for a few days out of respect for the victims. Our thoughts are with them and their family at this time.” Local media reports the crash occurred Thursday June 16, and claim the van flipped after running off the road in a desert area. ‘The Chosen One’ is an adaptation of a comic book series ‘American Jesus’, originally published as ‘Chosen’, created by Mark Millar.
World Cup sex ban as fans warned of 7 years in jail
A World Cup sex ban is effectively in place during the tournament in Qatar, where those caught frolicking with anyone other than their spouse face a seven-year jail term. Boozy bunk-ups are officially banned at the tournament, which starts in November, with FIFA officials warning there will be “no exceptions”. There is a growing unease from UK law enforcement about the possibility of British fans facing severe penalties for “doing everyday things – accepted at and after games”.