King Charles’ funeral plans unveiled

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Saturday, 30th March 2024

King Charles has only been Britain’s reigning monarch for 18 months, yet his funeral plans are already set amid his battle with pancreatic cancer. Named ‘Operation Menai Bridge’, the monarch’s funeral processions will look similar to Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremonies, dubbed ‘Operation London Bridge’.

As his cancer progresses, royal insiders tell In Touch that Charles’ final resting plans are of timely prioritisation. The update comes shortly after a separate high ranking royal insider told In Touch that Charles is not only battling pancreatic cancer – a timely update given that he did not share what kind of cancer he was diagnosed with – but has a mere two years to live. “King Charles is much sicker than the Palace lets on and simply isn’t up to the job of running his fractious family, the crown’s business interests, and fulfilling the daily duties of the monarchy,” the member of the royal inner circle revealed in early March. “His cancer is eating him alive. He’s very frail. The situation is desperate.” Royal watchers have begun to witness his decline, too.

Though he will be stepping out on Easter Sunday for a service at Windsor, the king is missing from the royal calendar for the foreseeable future, instead relying heavily on his sister, Princess Anne, to do the work of the royal family. While many would have assumed his heir, Prince William, would be stepping up to the plate, he too is missing from the royal schedule due to Princess Kate Middleton’s own cancer diagnosis and treatment. However, additional sources told In Touch that more could be at play between Charles and William outside of the family’s respective health crises, as the king is under the impression William is not ready to take the throne. “Charles knows the pressures of being the monarch, and he just isn’t sure William is ready to take his place,” the third insider revealed, noting that William is “currently facing a public relations disaster. It seems premature, and there could be consequences.”

With such an update, the future of the monarchy seems shaky at best, and even Queen Camilla is said to be frustrated by Charles’ declining health and weakened status. When the monarch dies, Charles’ body will be moved from the throne room at Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall. He will lie in state, and his official funeral will take place nine days later. He will likely be buried in the royal vault at Windsor Castle.

Concerns over Pope’s health as he misses Good Friday procession

Pope Francis skipped the traditional Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum to protect his health, the Vatican said, adding to concerns about his frail condition during a particularly busy liturgical period. Francis had been expected to preside over the Way of the Cross procession, which re-enacts Christ’s Passion and crucifixion, and composed the meditations that are read aloud at each station. But just as the event was about to begin, the Vatican announced that Francis was following the event from his home at the Vatican. “To conserve his health in view of the vigil tomorrow (today) and Mass on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis will follow the Via Crucis at the Colosseum this evening from the Casa Santa Marta,” a statement from the Vatican press office said.

Rafah talks in the US could happen as soon as Monday.

High-level talks between US and Israeli officials over potential military operations in Rafah could take place in Washington, DC, as soon as Monday, US officials told CNN. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu abruptly called off talks scheduled for this week after the US refused to block a United Nations resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of captives held by Hamas. The Israeli delegation proposed to reschedule the talks for Monday, officials said, acknowledging the timing is complicated by a Sunday deadline facing the Israeli government to design a new law governing conscription for ultra-Orthodox Jews, long exempted from mandatory military service. Netanyahu has requested Israel’s top court defer the deadline for his government to draft a new plan, and it remains unclear whether the delegation would be authorised to travel to the United States if those plans are in flux. US officials have said no date is finalised.

Biden greenlights 25 F-35s and thousands of bombs for Israel

Despite a growing rift with the Israeli government and concerns about a military offensive in Rafah, the Biden administration has authorised the transfer of billions of dollars in bombs and fighter jets to the Jewish state, according to The Washington Post. The new packages include 25 F-35 jets for $2.5 billion and more than 1,800 2,000-pound (900 kg) MK84 bombs and 500 500-pound (225 kg) MK82 bombs, according to Pentagon and State Department officials. The 2,000-pound bombs have been linked to previous mass casualty events during the military campaign in Gaza.

Conscription law crisis “could bring Netanyahu down

Netanyahu has till tomorrow evening to present a fix to Israel’s controversial conscription law. If he fails, his government likely fails with him. According to a political commetary on, at midnight Israel time on April 1, the government will hit a deadline for changing its policy on the military draft. The Israel Defence Forces will then be required to send conscription notices to some 66,000 ultra-Orthodox men, who had been previously exempted by a law carving out special privileges for students at religious academies, or yeshivot. This might sound like an obscure internal Israeli political fight, but it actually has the potential to alter the entire trajectory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conscription issue splits Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government apart at the seams. Netanyahu depends on ultra-Orthodox parties for his parliamentary majority; if he permits mass conscription of yeshiva students, they’ll abandon him. But if he gives the ultra-Orthodox what they want, he’ll run afoul of key members of his own right-wing Likud party, potentially prompting their defections. These scenarios both end the same way: with the collapse of Netanyahu’s governing coalition and new elections, which Likud would (per every poll) lose by a wide margin. Netanyahu’s defeat would almost certainly usher his more centrist rival Benny Gantz into power. And while some of Gantz’s policies toward the war and the Palestinians would look the same, they would likely differ on some critical issues – including the all-important questions of Gaza’s political future and a Palestinian state.

Israel to return for ceasefire talks with Hamas

Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel will return to the table for cease-fire talks with Hamas. Friday’s announcement marks yet another attempt to reach a deal to pause Israel’s devastating war in Gaza against Hamas in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages. Efforts by the United States, Qatar and Egypt to negotiate a cease-fire appear stalled as the war grinds through its sixth month. Hamas has previously suggested a phased release of all remaining hostages in return for an end to the war and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Netanyahu had called these conditions ‘delusional’, and said that after any hostage release, Israel will keep fighting until Hamas is destroyed. Hamas is believed to be holding some 100 hostages, as well as the remains of about 30 people killed in theOctober 7 attack. Israel’s war in Gaza has killed at least 32,552 and injured nearly 75.000, according to the local Hamas-run Ministry of Health.

Pro-Gaza protesters disrupt Biden-Obama-Clinton record fundraiser

The streets outside and atmosphere inside Radio City Music Hall offered a dramatic split-screen on Thursday as pro-Palestinian protesters attempted to disrupt a massive fundraiser for President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign featuring former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. The Independent reports that as a phalanx of police officers surrounded the historic venue, a large group of marchers stood outside waving Palestinian and other flags and chanting slogans, with some denouncing President Biden as having “Blood on [his] hands” for America’s continued support of the Israeli government during the country’s six-month-old war on Hamas.  Protesters also made it inside the fundraiser by purchasing tickets with the intent of interrupting the evening’s programme to express their displeasure over the war. One protester began shouting “Shame on you, Joe Biden!” before being ushered out by security. And as Clinton began to answer a question about what he missed most about the presidency, another protester began shouting obscenities about Ukraine and Russia before being joined by other protesters.

26 packages of new US aid launch ended up in the sea

US Central Command (Centcom) says “26 humanitarian aid packages ended up at sea” during the latest airdrop of humanitarian assistance Friday in the northern Gaza Strip to provide support to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict. American C-17 planes dropped the equivalent of over 46,000 meals on the area, Centcom specifies, ensuring that the drop errors caused “no damage to civilians or infrastructure”.

“Putin has broken the principle of peace in Europe” – Scholz

In an Easter message, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recalled the conditions for a “just peace” and asked for further support for Kiev. “Peace without freedom means oppression; there is no peace without justice,” said Scholz in a video podcast published last night. “That is why we support Ukraine in its fight for a just peace, as long as it takes. We all want a more peaceful world and support for Ukraine serves us too, our security”, underlined the German Chancellor. “For many decades – recalled Scholz – peace in Europe has been based on a fundamental principle: borders can never again be moved by force. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has broken this principle, but we have the task of making it valid again: by continuing to support Ukraine with determination and prudence, above all because we are united by the belief that the law must prevail over violence”.

Newborn baby missing in shipwreck off the coast of Lampedusa

A four-month-old baby girl is among the three missing persons who ended up at sea during the rescue operations of the ‘Trotamar III’. In the SAR area, the sailing ship of the German NGO People in motion, as soon as it spotted the small boat loaded with migrants, provided life jackets to some of the people. And she did it while waiting for the coast guard patrol boat to arrive. However, the migrants became agitated and, trying to get closer to the NGO vessel, fell into the sea. The crew rescued 44 migrants, but three people – two men and a four-month-old baby girl from Guinea who was travelling with her mother – were not recovered. The searches, with coast guard patrol boats, are underway.

Zelensky tells MEP delegation that EU solidarity is vital for morale

According to Euronews, the Ukrainian president made the comments to a group of MEPs from the liberal Renew Europe group, of which his own party is a member. The two-day visit came in the run-up to the EU election in June where the far-right, who are mainly less supportive of Ukraine and less opposed to Russia, are expected to make big gains. “It’s an important signal for our men, our women, our children that we are part of Europe and Europe knows that we are this defending shield for our common values,” Zelenskyy said. He also stressed Ukraine’s urgent need for more weapons and ammunition to the delegation. Hours after the visit, Renew Europe’s president, Valerie Hayer, wrote to European Parliament president Roberta Metsola urging the EU to expose any MEPs, or candidates, who have accepted money from either Russia or its proxies.

Huge crane arrives for Baltimore bridge collapse cleanup

The largest crane on the east coast of the United States arrived in Baltimore on Friday to clear the wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which collapsed when a cargo ship crashed into it. The floating crane is able to lift a 1,000-ton load and will be joined by other, smaller cranes in the months-long cleanup.  The cleanup operation will likely begin by clearing the larger bridge trusses from the river before removing the bridge segments on top of the cargo ship, the Dali, so that it can be moved. Workers will then clean up steel and concrete debris from the river bed below. The US Army Corps of Engineers is leading the operation and has deployed more than 1,100 engineering, construction, contracting and operations specialists, as well as ships, remotely operated vehicles and sonar equipment. Divers have already recovered the bodies of two men from the river but four workers are still missing and are presumed dead. “The Dali is almost as long as the Eiffel Tower, and has the Key Bridge on top of it. We’re talking 3,000 or 4,000 tons of steel that’s sitting on top of that ship, so we’ve got work to do,” Maryland Governor Wes More said at a news conference.

“We will continue fighting,” says jailed US reporter’s family

One year after US journalist Evan Gershkovich was arrested in Russia on espionage charges, his family vowed Friday to continue fighting for his release, saying his innocence gives him courage in the face of the ordeal. “We never anticipated this situation happening to our son and brother, let alone a full year with no certainty or clear path forward,” his family said in a letter to the readers of the Wall Street Journal, Gershkovich’s employer. “But despite this long battle, we are still standing strong.” Gershkovich, 32, was detained by FSB security service agents on March 29, 2023, and accused of spying – the first such charge against a Western journalist since the Soviet-era. Gershkovich, his employers and the White House all vehemently reject the spying accusations, saying he was an honest journalist doing his job. President Putin has expressed willingness to exchange Gershkovich, and the Kremlin on Thursday said conversations were still ongoing behind the scenes. In their letter, Gershkovich’s parents, Mikhail and Ella, and sister Danielle described the past year as “unimaginable”.

China with Caracas against “foreign interference” in the vote

The Chinese government reiterated its support for Venezuela’s “sovereignty and independence” on Friday, in reference to the July 28 presidential election. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said Beijing opposes “foreign interference” in Caracas’ internal affairs, thus responding to “concerns” expressed by the US State Department. “China respects the national sovereignty and independence of Venezuela,” supports the country “in carrying out the electoral process in accordance with its constitution and laws, and opposes external interference in Venezuela’s internal affairs, Lin said in response to a statement from the US department which said it was “deeply concerned” by the fact that the Venezuelan National Electoral Council has limited the possibility for opposition candidates to register to participate in the elections”, one reads on the Global Times. In the last few hours, the Venezuelan Electoral Council, in a statement, also rejected “the US State Department’s insolent and false questioning of the electoral body, which seeks to discredit one of the most solid institutions of the robust Venezuelan democracy”.

Disinformation targeting Brigitte Macron spreads beyond France

Years after false posts began circulating on social media purporting Brigitte Macron is a transgender woman, the French first lady remains the target of fake claims with the transphobic disinformation spreading to the United States. President Emmanuel Macron, 46, has in recent weeks lashed out at the false information spread about his wife, 70, who is taking legal action against those behind the allegations. Prominent US conservative commentator Candace Owens vehemently attacked the first lady in a now-deleted YouTube video posted on 11th March, propagating a false claim that first exploded in France just weeks before the 2022 presidential election. Brigitte Macron is falsely accused of being born as a man called Jean-Michel Trogneux, her maiden surname, with that name going viral as a hashtag. Macron is among a group of influential women who have fallen victim to a growing trend: disinformation about their gender or sexuality to mock or humiliate them.

Photo: Getty

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