French protests escalate
Bordeaux town hall has been set on fire as bitter French protests continue over plans to raise the pension age. More than a million people took to the streets across France on Thursday, according to government figures, with 80 arrests. Officers fired tear gas at protesters in Paris. The most recent protests were “marked by a greater presence of young people and more violence than previously”, said Le Monde, with a “clear increase in violence and radicalism”.
Pilots boycott Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu has been forced to delay his visit to the UK because a number of Israeli pilots have refused to fly him, claimed The Telegraph. The Israeli government has been unable to find a pilot to take him to London amid intense domestic opposition to his plans to overhaul the Israeli legal system. Critics believe the changes will “muzzle legal protections and open the door to an authoritarian, demagogic state”, said the BBC, but Netanyahu says the changes will “rebalance” branches of government.
Vaccine plant sale worry
Scientists have warned that Britain is less prepared for a pandemic now than it was before Covid due to the sale of a key vaccine plant. The recent loss of the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre in Oxfordshire showed that the UK had been going backwards since the pandemic, said Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute, which was responsible for the Oxford Covid vaccine. This sale of the facility to a US company means that the UK is “once again without a flexible manufacturing facility that can respond to outbreaks”, said The Times.
Starmer tax returns
Keir Starmer paid £118,580 in UK tax over the last two years, financial records released by the Labour leader show. The paperwork signals that Starmer paid the tax on total earnings of £359,720 from income and capital gains since 2020. Keir’s release comes a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak published details of his finances. Starmer was effectively taxed at a rate of nearly 32% in the past financial year, while Rishi Sunak paid tax in effect at just over 22%, according to analysis by The Independent.
Coronation floor to open to public
The historic medieval flooring where King Charles will be crowned inside Westminster Abbey is going to be opened to visitors for the first time in living memory. Abbey authorities said people will be able to walk across the “Cosmati pavement” as long as they take their shoes off to protect the 13th century surface. The coronations of Elizabeth II in 1953 and her father, George VI, in 1937, took place with the pavement covered by red felt. However, when Charles is crowned it will remain uncovered.
North Korea tests ‘radioactive tsunami’
North Korea claims it has tested a new nuclear underwater attack drone designed to unleash a “radioactive tsunami”. Kim Jong-un vowed to “plunge rivals into despair” as the North’s state news agency KCNA also confirmed it fired cruise missiles during the weapon test and firing drill that took place between Tuesday and Thursday. The reported drone exercise came as a US amphibious assault ship arrived in South Korea for joint military drills, noted Al Jazeera.
Vorderman in spat with minister
The broadcaster Carol Vorderman has accused the women’s health minister of lying. After Vorderman said that Maria Caulfield had failed to turn up for a hearing of the women and equalities committee, she wrote on Twitter: “The lying minister who couldn’t be bothered to turn up was having a cup of tea in the canteen an hour beforehand. We saw her.” But Caulfield denied the claim and said Vorderman was treating her like a “punch bag”. Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, described Vorderman’s accusation as a “confected and false campaign against a very decent and hard-working minister”.
Royal approval ratings plunge
The approval rating of the royal family has slumped to its lowest level for 12 months, reported The Telegraph. The Prince of Wales’ rating has slipped by 10 percentage points to 59% since December. The ratings of the Princess Royal and Princess of Wales have fallen by seven and 11 points respectively. The latest Ipsos poll suggests that all senior royals have been affected by the “fallout” from the publication of the Duke of Sussex’s memoir, Spare, said the paper.
Anger over accused footballer
A footballer accused of raping two women is still playing for his Premier League club despite facing a third sex allegation, reported The Mirror. Last year, the footballer was accused of raping two women in separate attacks, in 2021 and 2022. A third alleged victim has now come forward. Women’s Aid said that by allowing the player to continue playing, his club risked “minimising” violence against women. A solicitor told the paper that “employers would normally suspend employees initially”.
Maradona mocker has ticket cancelled
An England fan in Italy had his match ticket cancelled by the FA after he was seen with a flag mocking the death of Diego Maradona. In an image that went viral, the man was seen posing next to a St George’s flag emblazoned with “Diego’s in a box” ahead of the game in Naples. Maradona is popular in the city after his time with local side Napoli. The FA said: “We strongly condemn the actions of the individual who travelled to Naples with a flag that had a highly offensive message on it.” England beat Italy 2-1 in the tie.