‘France Could See Direct Conflict With Russia’ – Le Pen
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Rally party, warned on Wednesday the country could see a direct conflict with Russia by delivering weapons to Ukraine. During a presidential debate, Le Pen and President Macron confronted each other on the cost of living, Russia, climate change and immigration. Spiralling prices of energy and at the shops dominated the campaign and immediately took centre stage in the debate. Throughout the debate, it was Macron who went on the offensive, appearing more like a challenger than an incumbent, repeatedly interrupting his rival. He claimed Le Pen had made herself “dependent” on President Putin after taking out a loan from a Russian bank. The 53-year-old hit back at Macron’s comments by explaining that her party was repaying the loan and described him as “dishonest” for raising the issue. According to the first poll published after the TV debate, it was Macron who won the debate: 59% judged him the most convincing, while Le Pen garnered 39% while two per cent did not comment.
Ukraine offers negotiations with Russia to Mariupol
Ukraine has offered Russia a “special session of negotiations” in Mariupol, according to Mykhailo Podalyak, one of the negotiators with Russia. “We are ready to hold a special session of negotiations inMariupol, he wrote onTwitter, “to save our boys, the Azov battalion, the soldiers, civilians, children, living and wounded. All!” Meanwhile, after rejecting the Russian ultimatum to surrender, the Azov regiment fighters and Kiev Marines continue to fight, enshrotted in the Azovstal steelwork along with hundreds of civilians. They are desperately short on supplies and may lose control of the city within days or less.
Russia tests new ICBM, threatens West
The Russian military said Wednesday it successfully performed the first test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon President Vladimir Putin said would make the West “think twice” before harbouring any aggressive intentions against Russia. Russia said the Sarmat ICBM’s practice warheads have successfully reached mock targets. It said the launch was fully successful, proving the missile’s characteristics “in all phases of its flight”. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that Russia had given the US an advance notice about the launch in line with the New START nuclear arms control treaty between Moscow and Washington.
G20 finance officials walk out in protest of Russian attendance
Senior finance officials walked out of a G20 meeting in Washington on Wednesday in protest of Russia’s invasion. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen led a multi-nation boycott as Russian officials spoke. She was joined by Ukrainian, British, French and Canadian delegates. As many attendees attended virtually, they turned their cameras off instead. Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s richest nations were meeting to discuss global challenges, such as rising debt and a looming food crisis. However, discussions have been dominated by the Moscow-Ukraine war. The meeting came on the sidelines of a semi-annual conference held by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It was the first such meeting since the Russian invasion.
Queen Elizabeth turns 96
Gun salutes will ring out today to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 96th birthday, although the monarch herself was expected to mark the occasion with little fanfare. Rounds will be fired from the Tower of London and Hyde Park in London, where a military band will also play Happy Birthday. Royal tradition since the 18th century has also seen the monarch have a second, official birthday, typically celebrated in warmer weather in June. This year’s official birthday coincides with four days of public events from June 2 to 5 to mark the queen’s record-breaking 70th year on the throne.
To discard the elderly ‘is a grave sin’ – Pope
Not to honour the elderly, and to treat them as something to discard, “is a grave sin”, Pope Francis said on Wednesday. During his weekly meeting with the public in St Peter’s Square, the pope said “this commandment to honour the elderly gives us a blessing”. He said old people are the presence of history, the presence of the family. “And it is thanks to them we are here. Please, do not leave them alone.” He encouraged parents to bring their children to the elderly often. And if their grandparents are in a nursing home, to take them to visit.
Assange’s extradition case passes to Patel
A British judge has sent the case of Julian Assange to interior minister Priti Patel who will decide whether the Wikileaks founder should be extradited to the United States over the release of confidential US documents. The procedural step was announced at a hearing in central London following a March decision to deny Australian-born Assange permission to appeal against his extradition. The extradition order must now be signed by Patel, after which Assange can try to challenge the decision by judicial review. Assange, 50, is wanted in the United States on 18 criminal charges, including breaking a spying law, after WikiLeaks published thousands of secret US files in 2010.
Indonesia police arrest teacher accused of raping 12 students
Indonesian police have arrested a teacher accused of raping at least 12 children over the last five years. Police in Java detained the suspect last week after the parents of one child reported him to authorities. The 39-year-old man is accused of sexually assaulting students aged between 10 and 11. The abuse took place after private tutoring sessions. The suspect faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. In February another teacher was sentenced to death for raping 13 students at an Islamic boarding school, impregnating at least eight of the girls.
Is Netflix crackdown on password sharing imminent?
Netflix is considering a crackdown on password sharing between households and may begin to introduce advertising as part of cheaper plans after it saw an unexpectedly sharp drop in subscribers. The streaming service hopes the changes will help the company recover its momentum after its customer base fell by 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of the year – the first drop it has seen in 10 years. Netflix said more than 100 million global households use a shared password, with more than 30 million of those in the US and Canada. The platform boomed under COVID lockdowns as people stayed at home, but growth has slowed as the world returned to normal. Its number of paying subscribers increased by just 18 million over the course of 2021 compared to 37 million in 2020. It has also seen rivals such as Apple and Walt Disney begin to chip away at its audience with their own streaming services. The drop also stemmed in part from Netflix’s decision to withdraw from Russia in protest of the war against Ukraine, resulting in a loss of 700,000 subscribers. Netflix projected a loss of another two million subscribers over the next three months.
‘Rust film producers were indifferent to gun safety’
The producers of a film whose cinematographer was accidentally shot dead on set by Alec Baldwin have been fined and strongly criticised by authorities for failing to follow safety guidelines. The makers of Rust showed “plain indifference to recognised hazards associated with use of firearms on set”, according to the New Mexico Environment Department. The agency has issued the maximum $136,793 (€126,000) fine to Rust Movie Productions. Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza injured in October as Baldwin rehearsed with what he believed to be a safe gun.
Diodato will be guest of Eurovision
The first guest of the Eurovision Song Contest, scheduled in Turin from May 10 to 14, is Diodato. He will take the stage of the Pala Olimpico in the first semifinal, live on Rai1 on May10, and will propose a special version of Fa Rumore, the song with which he won the Sanremo 2020 Festival. Two years ago, he thrilled by singing Fa Rumore in a deserted Verona Arena for Europe ‘Shine a Light’, the show that replaced Eurovision, suspended due COVID.