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Biden warns Russia against ‘harmful activities’ at start of first official trip

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US President Joe Biden has launched his first official overseas trip with a warning to Russia that it faces “robust and meaningful” consequences if it engages in “harmful activities”.

Mr Biden made clear his intention to strengthen ties with US allies, following strained relations under the Trump administration.

President Biden arrived in the UK on Wednesday.

He will meet PM Boris Johnson to agree a new “Atlantic Charter”.

The pact will be a modern version of the one agreed between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, with a focus on challenges including climate change and security.

The BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, says the two are aiming to refresh a vital relationship, after the turbulence of the Trump years and the pressures of the pandemic.

During a packed eight-day European visit Mr Biden will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle, attend a G7 leaders’ meeting, and join his first Nato summit as president.

At the end of his trip Mr Biden is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The White House has indicated that he intends to cover a “full range of pressing issues” with his Russian counterpart, including arms control, climate change, Russian military involvement in Ukraine, Russia’s cyber-hacking activities and the jailing of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

Three organisations linked to Mr Navalny were outlawed by a Moscow court on Wednesday for being “extremist”.

Addressing US troops and their families at the RAF Mildenhall airbase in Suffolk on Wednesday, where he landed before travelling on to Cornwall, Mr Biden said he would deliver a clear message to Mr Putin.

“We’re not seeking conflict with Russia,” he said. “We want a stable and predictable relationship … but I’ve been clear: The United States will respond in a robust and meaningful way if the Russian government engages in harmful activities.”

Ties between Washington and Moscow are at a low point over a variety of issues. In April, Mr Putin accused Western powers of trying to “pick on” Russia and warned them not to cross a “red line”.

Mr Biden said that “at every point” during his first overseas trip as president he wanted to make it clear that “the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges, and the issues that matter most to our future”.

Other leaders of the G7 (Group of Seven) will arrive in Cornwall, south-west England, on Friday and meetings will take place over the weekend.

The G7 is made up of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – plus the EU.

President Vladimir Putin is seen on a screen in St Petersburg, Russia, June 4, 2021IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionVladimir Putin has downplayed expectations of his planned summit with President Biden

The main topic of conversation will be Covid recovery, including “a stronger global health system that can protect us all from future pandemics”.

US media has reported that the Biden administration plans to provide 500 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to about 100 countries over the next two years.

The G7 agenda also includes climate change and trade.

Mr Biden is expected to warn that the UK-EU trade row could endanger peace in Northern Ireland. He will call on fellow leaders to protect the gains of the Good Friday agreement.

At the end of the summit, the UK – as the host nation – will publish a document outlining what has been agreed by the leaders.

After the G7, Mr Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle before flying to Brussels for talks with Nato on Monday and the EU on Tuesday.

US ties with Nato were strained under Donald Trump, but Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg – visiting the White House on Monday – hailed Mr Biden’s “powerful commitment” to America’s allies.

BBC.COM

America

50 Cent Is Not Dead

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News of rapper 50 Cent’s death spread quickly earlier this week causing concern among fans across the world. However the June 2021 report has now been confirmed as a complete hoax and just the latest in a string of fake celebrity death reports. Thankfully, the rapper best known for hit songs like Candy Shop or In da Club is alive and well.

50 Cent death hoax spreads on Facebook

Rumors of the rapper’s alleged demise gained traction on Saturday after a ‘R.I.P. 50 Cent’ Facebook page attracted nearly one million of ‘likes’. Those who read the ‘About’ page were given a believable account of the American rapper’s passing:

At about 11 a.m. ET on Saturday (June 19, 2021), our beloved rapper 50 Cent passed away. 50 Cent was born on July 6, 1975 in New York. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page.

Hundreds of fans immediately started writing their messages of condolence on the Facebook page, expressing their sadness that the talented 45-year-old rapper, actor and business man was dead. And as usual, Twittersphere was frenzied over the death hoax.

Where as some trusting fans believed the post, others were immediately skeptical of the report, perhaps learning their lesson from the huge amount of fake death reports emerging about celebrities over recent months. Some pointed out that the news had not been carried on any major American network, indicating that it was a fake report, as the death of a rapper of 50 Cent’s stature would be major news across networks.

A recent poll conducted for the Celebrity Post shows that a large majority (92%) of respondents think those 50 Cent death rumors are not funny anymore.

50 Cent Death Hoax Dismissed Since Rapper Is ‘Alive And Well’

On Sunday (June 20) the rapper’s reps officially confirmed that 50 Cent is not dead. “He joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimized by this hoax. He’s still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the Internet,” they said.

Some fans have expressed anger at the fake report saying it was reckless, distressing and hurtful to fans of the much loved rapper. Others say this shows his extreme popularity across the globe.

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France regional election: Macron and Le Pen fail to make ground – exit poll

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Composite picture of Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le PenIMAGE COPYRIGHTEPA/REUTERS

Early results indicate both President Emmanuel Macron and his opponent Marine Le Pen will fail to make the gains they were hoping for in the first round of regional elections in France.

Mr Macron’s centrist party is projected to gain more than 10% of the vote – just enough to take part in the second round next weekend.

Ms Le Pen’s far-right National Rally has also fallen short of expectations.

Both are trailing the conservative party, Les Républicains.

One of Mr Macron’s MPs, Aurore Bergé, described her party’s poor performance as a “democratic slap in the face for all of us”.

Ms Le Pen’s National Rally party was expected to top Sunday’s first round of polling, and win at least one region for the first time. Instead it is now predicted to come second.

Mrs Le Pen is not running as a candidate but she has been leading the campaign.

She described the record-low voter turnout – a projected 66% abstention – as a “civic disaster”.

She blamed the results on the government’s inability to inspire faith in political institutions. “Let’s face it, the results were marked by a torrential and also historic abstention of nearly 70% due to the mistrust of an electoral system, which leaves voters with the feeling that nothing can change, that everything has been confiscated,” she said.

 

Voters are choosing new councils for France’s 13 mainland regions, plus one overseas, as well as 96 departments. There are more than 15,700 candidates standing for 4,100 seats.

This election is being watched particularly closely, because the next presidential elections are less than a year away. It is being used to get a taste of voters’ mood.

An Ipsos exit poll shows the conservative Les Républicains winning 27% of the vote, followed by National Rally with 19%. The Greens, the Socialist Party and Mr Macron’s La République En Marche (LREM) are all on 11%.

This is the first time President Macron’s party has taken part in regional election – La République en Marche did not exist the last time they were held in 2015.

His party was not expected to do particularly well in this election. Last month a minister told AFP news agency: “These elections are never good for the party in power. You always get it in the neck.”

Yet LREM has still fared worse than expected. It will not win any region outright, having failed to gain enough support in local regions.

Mr Macron will now undoubtedly face a challenge ahead of the presidential vote in April 2022.

The regional election was delayed for three months because of the pandemic. There will be a second-round run-off on 27 June.

BBC.COM

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Covid: Brazil hits 500,000 deaths amid ‘critical’ situation

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People visit a cemetery in Manaus, Amazonas State, Brazil, on 9 MayIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionThe virus continues to spread in Brazil amid a lack of co-ordinated measures

The number of deaths related to Covid-19 has passed 500,000 in Brazil, the second-highest in the world, as experts say the outbreak could worsen amid slow vaccination and the start of winter.

The virus continues to spread as President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to back measures like social distancing.

The health institute Fiocruz says the situation is “critical”. Only 15% of adults are fully vaccinated.

Congress is investigating the government’s handling of the pandemic.

President Bolsonaro has been heavily criticised for not implementing a co-ordinated national response and for his scepticism toward vaccines, lockdowns and mask-wearing requirements, which he has sought to loosen.

The opposition accuses the president of delaying the purchase of vaccines for political reasons, as he has consistently played down the severity of the pandemic.

 

The outbreak in Brazil has been fuelled by more transmissible variants of the virus, including the one first identified in the Amazon region and now known as Gamma. An average of 70,000 cases has been confirmed daily in the last week.

The rate of occupancy of intensive care unit beds remains at or above 80% in most states, and experts warn the start of winter in the southern hemisphere, next week, could result in more infections.

“Brazil faces a critical scenario of community transmission… with the possibility of worsening in the coming weeks due to the start of winter,” Fiocruz said.

On Twitter, Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga expressed solidarity with the “fathers, mothers, friends and relatives” of those who had died, saying: “500,000 lives lost due to the pandemic that affects our Brazil and the whole world.”

Only the US has reported more deaths related to Covid-19.

The seven-day daily average of deaths in Brazil has been above 1,500 since March. Gonzalo Vecina, the former head of the health regulator Anvisa, said the slow progress of the vaccine programme had and would continue to cost lives.

“There are 500,000 deaths, and unfortunately, it will continue to increase because it will take some time to increase vaccination coverage. Maybe this year will also be difficult because we depend on the delivery of vaccines, which were purchased very late,” he said.

On Saturday, thousands of people protested across the country against the Bolsonaro government and to demand the acceleration of the vaccination programme. Many cities have struggled with insufficient number of doses.

President Bolsonaro has opposed lockdown measures, saying their impact on the economy would be worse than the virus. But he insists he has done all he can to buy vaccines from several countries.

BBC.COM

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