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BBC fires presenter following chimpanzee tweet about British royal baby

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…As French president, Macron, says Europe must renew itself or fall***

The BBC has fired a presenter who tweeted an image of a chimpanzee dressed in clothes with the caption “Royal Baby leaves hospital’’.

Meghan, wife of Prince Harry, gave birth, in the early hours of Monday, to a baby boy, Archie, the first mixed race child to be born into the top hierarchy of British royalty in recent history.

“Just got fired,” Danny Baker, the broadcaster with BBC Radio 5Live, said on Twitter.

The BBC also reported the news, though a spokesman for the BBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 61 year-old 5Live presenter was accused of mocking the duchess’ racial heritage.

A BBC spokesperson said: “This was a serious error of judgment.”

The corporation added that Baker’s tweet “goes against the values we as a station aim to embody.

“Danny is a brilliant broadcaster, but will no longer be presenting a weekly show with us.”

After an initial backlash on social media, Baker said: “Sorry my gag pic of the little fella in the posh outfit has whipped some up. Never occurred to me because, well, mind not diseased.

“Soon as those good enough to point out its possible connotations got in touch, down it came; and that’s it.’’

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan showed their son to the public for the first time on Wednesday.

Harry and Meghan, whose mother Doria Ragland is African American, revealed on Wednesday their new son was named Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

The royal couple announced the names on their official Instagram account, but did not say why they chose them or whether the infant will hold any royal titles.

Archie, who is seventh in line to the British throne, is expected to hold dual citizenship of Britain and the U.S.

Congratulations have poured in from well-wishers in Britain and other countries, including many celebrities, since Meghan gave birth to the boy weighing 3.26 kilograms.

Harry, 34, is the second son of the heir to the throne, Prince Charles.

Harry married former actress Meghan, 37, in a spectacular wedding at the royal Windsor Castle in May 2018.

The queen and Philip now have four children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Prince William, who has three young children with his wife Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, welcomed his younger brother to “the sleep deprivation society’’ on Tuesday.

The queen’s grandfather, King George V, changed the royal family’s name from the German Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor – after Windsor Castle – in 1917 during World War I.

Philip also changed his name during World War I after his grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, adopted the family name Mountbatten. 

In the meantime, the EU must focus on climate, security, and growth after continent-wide elections in two weeks, or fall, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

Micron said this as the leaders met in Romania to chart the way forward following Brexit.

The leaders of all members except Britain meet on Europe Day in the town of Sibiu, which has German and Hungarian roots, 15 years after the EU’s expansion east finally consigned to history the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War Two.

With European Parliament elections set for May 23-26, they will hammer home their goal of staying united in spite of the Brexit damage, as well as having a first go at assigning the bloc’s most powerful jobs later this year.

“In 15 days, some 400 million Europeans will choose between a project…to build Europe further or a project to destroy, deconstruct Europe and return to nationalism,” Macron said on arriving to the informal talks among the 27 leaders.

“We need to move faster now and with more determination on European renaissance,” he said.

“Climate, protection of borders and a model of growth, a social model…is what I really want for the coming years.”

France and seven other EU countries proposed getting to “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” by 2050 for the Sibiu discussion, which is rich in symbolism but expected to produce no concrete decisions.

That partly reflects how troubled the times are for the EU.

Divided over issues ranging from migration to democratic standards, the EU is grappling with Brexit and a wave of populism, and faces external challenges from China to Russia to the U.S.

It is also lagging behind on issues from climate change to cyber security.

But the 27 leaders signed off on a declaration promising to “defend one Europe”, “stay united, through thick and thin” and “always look for joint solutions” in the next political cycle until 2024.

More immediate consequences could come from informal discussions on appointing new people to the EU’s most powerful roles at the helm of the European Council.

This will brings together national leaders, the executive European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Central Bank and the joint diplomatic service.

All five posts are up for grabs later this year and the outgoing European Parliament has already named its picks for the Commission job including a conservative German, Manfred Weber, and a Dutch socialist, Frans Timmermans.

The national leaders, however, want to keep firm control of the process where party politics, geographies, policy priorities as well as the candidates’ personal profiles all play a role.

Agreeing the choice took three summits and three summer months of horse-trading the last time round and the Sibiu summit chairman Donald Tusk will propose finishing it in two goes now.

Hungary’s eurosceptic Prime Minister Viktor Orban as well as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras were among those speaking against Weber.

The leaders of Luxembourg and Lithuania opposed the idea of following the parliament’s picks.
While desirable for smooth future cooperation, no formal unanimity is required.
Orban and Britain’s former Prime Minister David Cameron opposed the nomination of the current head of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in 2014.

Other names in the hat include Brexit negotiator Frenchman Michel Barnier, or Margrethe Vestager, Denmark’s current commissioner who imposed hefty fines on global tech giants Google and Apple.
Tusk wants to convene another summit in Brussels on May 28, two days after the European Parliament vote to let the national leaders discuss the results and agree on their next steps.

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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