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FaviconChinese military vessels and aircraft approach Taiwan space again, defense ministry says 23 Jan 2023, 6:16 am

Chinese military vessels and aircraft were detected around Taiwanese waters and airspace on Monday morning, according to defense officials, as tensions continue to grow between the two nations.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense tweeted that nine aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, and four vessels from the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, were detected at 6 a.m. (UTC+8) on Monday.

"R.O.C. Armed Forces have monitored the situation and tasked CAP aircraft, Navy Vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond [to] these activities," the tweet read.

CHINESE MILITARY AIRCRAFT, VESSELS ENTER TAIWANESE WATERS, AIRSPACE FOR AT LEAST EIGHTH TIME IN ONE WEEK

For a third consecutive week, China has reportedly sent military aircraft and vessels toward Taiwan, oftentimes crossing over the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer zone separating Taiwan from China.

The incursions by the Chinese military are turning into a daily occurrence. In fact, the Ministry of National Defense tweeted yesterday that 10 PLA aircraft and 4 PLAN vessels were detected near Taiwan, and on Friday Taiwanese officials reported 14 PLA aircraft and three PLAN vessels in the area.

On Thursday, there were 31 PLA aircraft and four PLAN vessels near Taiwan, and the Ministry of Defense reported that 12 of the aircraft crossed over the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing renewed threats against the island nation last week, warning foreign politicians who interact with the self-governing island are "playing with fire."

CHINA'S XI WARY OF RURAL COVID CASES, BUT SAYS 'LIGHT AHEAD'

A spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office said the country was recommitted in the new year to "safeguarding sovereignty and territorial integrity" and "smashing plots for Taiwan independence" on the self-governing democracy that separated from mainland China in 1949.

Last week, Taiwan’s military staged drills intended to reassure the public of its ability to counter threats from China, ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday.

China has responded to foreign visits by holding large-scale military exercises seen by some as a rehearsal for a blockade or invasion. Beijing sends airplanes and warships toward Taiwan on a near-daily basis, often crossing the midline of the 100 miles Taiwan Strait dividing the sides.

At the end of December, China sent a record 71 planes and seven ships toward Taiwan — the largest such scale exercise in 2022.

Fox News' Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

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FaviconBoris Johnson makes surprise visit to war-torn Ukraine to meet with President Zelenskyy, pledge help 23 Jan 2023, 3:25 am

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to Ukraine Sunday where he met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged his country’s support in its war against Russia. 

Boris, who was prime minister when Russia invaded Ukraine in late February 2022, said the U.K. "will be sticking with Ukraine for as long as it takes." 

"You’re going to win and you’re going to get all the Russians out of your country, but we will be there for the long-term," Johnson said. "And we will also want to be helping you to reconstruct." 

During his trip, the former prime minister visited Borodyanka and Bucha, the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital that has witnessed some of the most horrific atrocities of the war. 

RUSSIAN WAGNER GROUP GAINS GLOBAL NOTORIETY FROM AFRICA TO UKRAINE, BUT DIVISION BREWS AT HOME

Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba told Johnson that more than 160 residents were killed in Borodyanka during the month-long Russian occupation of the town last year, though some 60% of residents have since returned. 

In Kyiv, President Zelenskyy and top officials, including the foreign minister, who lined up to personally welcome the former British Prime Minister. 

While in office, Johnson sought to position London as one of Kyiv’s top allies in the West. He frequently visited Kyiv and called Zelenskyy frequently. 

Meanwhile, Ukraine's supporters pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine during a meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday. International defense leaders discussed Ukraine's urgent request for the Leopard 2 tanks, and the failure to work out an agreement overshadowed the new commitments.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA WAR: ZELENSKYY SAYS HE CAN'T USE ‘WORDS INSTEAD OF GUNS’ AS DEFENSE CHIEFS FAIL ON TANK DEAL

"This is the moment to double down and to give the Ukrainians all the tools they need to finish the job. The sooner Putin fails, the better for Ukraine and for the whole world," Johnson said in a statement.

The last week was especially tragic for Ukraine even by the standards of a brutal war that has gone on for nearly a year, killing tens of thousands of people, uprooting millions more and creating vast destruction of Ukrainian cities.

A barrage of Russian missiles struck an apartment complex in the southeastern city of Dnipro on Jan. 14, killing at least 45 civilians. On Wednesday, a government helicopter crashed into a building housing a kindergarten in a suburb of Kyiv. Ukraine's interior minister, other officials and a child on the ground were among the 14 people killed.

Zelenskyy vowed Sunday that Ukraine would ultimately prevail in the war.

"We are united because we are strong. We are strong because we are united," the Ukrainian leader said in a video address as he marked Ukraine Unity Day, which commemorates when east and west Ukraine were united in 1919.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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FaviconChurch of England issues formal apology to LGBTQ members amid spat over same-sex marriage 23 Jan 2023, 1:28 am

The Church of England issued a formal apology to LGBTQ members of the Anglican Communion who have felt excluded by the institution even as officials decided to continue to bar same-sex marriages in its churches.

"We want to apologize for the ways in which the Church of England has treated LGBTQI+ people — both those who worship in our churches and those who do not," the bishops of the church wrote in "Living in Love and Faith," a report released Friday following a six-year consultation period about identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.

"For the times we have rejected or excluded you, and those you love, we are deeply sorry," the statement continued. "The occasions on which you have received a hostile and homophobic response in our churches are shameful and for this we repent.

"As we have listened, we have been told time and time again how we have failed LGBTQI+ people. We have not loved you as God loves you, and that is profoundly wrong. We affirm, publicly and unequivocally, that LGBTQI+ people are welcome and valued: we are all children of God."

CHURCH OF ENGLAND BISHOPS SLATED TO UPHOLD BAN ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, WILL ISSUE APOLOGY TO LGBTQI+ PEOPLE

The apology came days after the church announced that bishops would uphold its historical teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman during their general synod in London next month.

Bishops instead offered proposals urging "prayers of dedication, thanksgiving or for God's blessing" on same-sex couples, according to a recent press release

The proposals include "a range of draft prayers" that clergy can use to bless same-sex couples "who have marked a significant stage of their relationship such as a civil marriage or civil partnership," the release said.

CONSERVATIVE ANGLICANS WARN CHURCH OF ENGLAND IS CRATERING IN ATTEMPT TO STAY RELEVANT: ‘THE CHURCH IS DYING’

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he would not be using the new prayers, which clergy are permitted to use at their discretion.

"Because of my pastoral care and responsibility in being a focus of unity for the whole Communion, I will — while being extremely, joyfully celebratory of these new resources — I will not personally use them in order not to compromise that pastoral care," Welby said during a Friday press conference.

Calvin Robinson, an Anglican deacon in the separatist Free Church of England who recently has claimed that his ordination in the Church of England was "snatched away" because of his conservative theological views, condemned the recent proposals from the bishops as "a clear fudging of the law" in a statement to Fox News Digital.

FIRST ‘GENDER-QUEER’ PRIEST IN CHURCH OF ENGLAND EXPRESSES DESIRE FOR ‘NORMALIZING’ IDENTITY AMONG CHILDREN

"In the secular world, there are many options for people living alternative lifestyles—civil partnerships, gay marriage, etc. There is no 'equality' or 'rights' issue here," said Robinson, who explained his belief is that the Bible and Christian teaching are "quite clear" that marriage was instituted by God as between one man and one woman to form a basis for families.

"The bishops understand this; instead of proposing to alter doctrine, they are attempting to skirt it," Robinson said. "Allowing the 'blessing' of same-sex relationships is essentially enabling the blessing of sin; that is dark. Christ taught us that we are all sinners but that we should repent, ask his forgiveness, and turn away from our sins. The Church is now attempting to undermine the Word of God by encouraging people to live in sin."

Robinson predicted that the Church of England's position "will not end well."

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FaviconUK set to crack down on illegal immigrants: block bank access, home rentals, and driver’s licenses 23 Jan 2023, 12:10 am

In a bid to crack down on illegal immigration, the U.K. government is blocking access on migrants’ access to bank accounts, home rentals, and their driver’s licenses, among other services. 

The country’s immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, is heading a new taskforce to ensure that "only those eligible can work, receive benefits or access to public service," The Telegraph reports. 

"We’re delivering on our promise to increase raids on illegal employers: a new Enforcement Taskforce will ensure only those eligible can work, access public services and benefits," Jenrick tweeted Sunday. 

BORDER AGENTS CONFIRM 1.2 MILLION ‘GOTAWAY’ MIGRANTS UNDER BIDEN ADMINISTRATION

The new initiative will include a 50% increase in immigration enforcement visits to construction sites, car washes, and gig economy firms. 

The government has already been ramping up enforcement visits in recent months. Since mid-December, there have been more than 1,150 such visits – a 10% increase – since mid-December, according to The Telegraph. This amounts to about 362 arrests.

Jenrick has argued that black market jobs harm communities by "cheating honest workers of employment, putting vulnerable people at risk, and defrauding the public purse," he said. 

"Our Immigration Enforcement teams are working round the clock to bring those violating our laws to justice. It’s our priority to crack down on this crime and empower law enforcement to remove illegal migrants," he said. 

"With support from our new enforcement taskforce, we will go further and faster to prevent the abuse of our laws and borders and crack down on individuals exploiting the generosity of the UK taxpayer."

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FaviconGhislaine Maxwell claims Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre photo is 'fake,' has 'no memory' of the pair meeting 22 Jan 2023, 8:06 pm

Convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell alleged in her first jailhouse interview that the notorious photograph of Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre at her London home in 2000 is likely a "fake," claiming that she has "no memory" of introducing the pair more than two decades ago.

The Oxford-educated Maxwell, who is serving a 20-year sentence in a Florida federal prison for her role in a scheme to sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls with Jeffrey Epstein over the course of a decade, was recently interviewed by British broadcaster Jeremy Kyle from behind bars.

The full interview is expected to air on Monday on TalkTV. In clips released as teasers for the special, Maxwell, with a phone to her ear at FTC Tallahassee, speaks of Epstein.

"I feel completely divorced from the person that people reference and talk about, and all the various newspaper articles and TV shows and podcasts," Maxwell said. 

JEFFREY EPSTEIN DOCUMENTS TO BE UNSEALED, POTENTIALLY REVEALING ACQUAINTANCES, JUDGE ORDERS 

She also described the Duke of York as a "dear friend" who should be "uplifted" after Giuffre dropped a separate sexual abuse lawsuit against American lawyer Alan Dershowitz in November.

Giuffre admitted in court documents that she "may have made a mistake" in claiming Dershowitz had abused her as a teenager. 

"Her story frankly has changed multiple times. It's very hard to know really what's true or not," Maxwell said, according to The Telegraph, adding that the true story "has yet to unfold."

"I have no memory of them meeting and I don't think that picture is real," Maxwell added of the photograph. "There is no original of that photo, [only] copies of it that have been produced, copies of copies. Parts of it, according to some experts, looks like it has been photoshopped." 

"I don't remember her in my home. I know that Virginia traveled with Jeffrey, and so it's entirely possible. But the photo doesn't appear to be real, and I don't recall it being taken," she added.

"Well, it’s a fake," Maxwell said. "I don’t believe it’s real for a second. In fact, I’m sure it’s not."

"Well, there’s never been an original," she added. "And further, there’s no photograph. I’ve only ever seen a photocopy of it."

The Telegraph reported Sunday that Prince Andrew is weighing legal options to overturn the $12 million settlement he struck with Giuffre. Giuffre alleged that the Duke of York raped and abused her three times in 2001 when she was 17. She filed a lawsuit against him in August 2020, and though Prince Andrew has denied the allegations, Buckingham Palace reportedly encouraged him to settle to avoid further damaging headlines from overshadowing Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

The move to have Giuffre retract her allegations against Prince Andrew – and possibly force an apology – could potentially open the path for the Duke of York to return to royal duties.

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FaviconPeru evacuates hundreds of tourists from Machu Picchu amid widespread violent protests, government crackdown 22 Jan 2023, 4:31 pm

Hundreds of tourists were stranded at the ancient archeological site of Machu Picchu after Peru’s railway service said protesters sabotaged a portion of the tracking leading back to the capital. 

The city of Cusco, the former capital of the Incan empire and an about a 70-mile train ride from the town of Machu Picchu has been the site of some of the most intense clashes since the South American nation first became engulfed in unrest after then-President Pedro Castillo, Peru’s first leader with a rural Andean background was impeached and imprisoned for trying to dissolve Congress last month. 

Train service to and from the town of Machu Picchu, at the base of the hill where the ancient Inca citadel with the same name sits, had been closed since Thursday due to damage to the tracks leading back to Cusco. Hundreds of tourists reportedly lined up to sign a petition to be evacuated in a "humanitarian train." 

Peru’s Culture Ministry said Saturday it had closed the country’s most famous tourist attraction as well as the Inca Trail leading up to the site "to protect the safety of tourists and the population in general."

PERU POLICE OFFICER BURNED TO DEATH IN PATROL CAR AS CASUALTIES FROM VIOLENT PROTESTS CLIMB 

There were more than 400 visitors stuck at Machu Picchu and unable to get out, more than 300 of them foreigners, Tourism Minister Luis Fernando Helguero said at a news conference.

By Saturday night, Peru’s tourism ministry, MINCETUR, thanked the Tourism Protection Network for coordinating the transport of 418 national and foreign visitors from Machu Picchu’s town to Cusco. The ministry shared photos of a crowded train making its way through the Peruvian Andes. 

Some stranded tourists had chosen to leave by walking to Piscacucho, the nearest village, Helguero said, "but that involves a walk of six, seven hours or more and only a few people are able to do it."

The closure of the Incan citadel that dates to the 15th century and is often referred to as one of the new seven wonders of the world comes as protesters have descended on Lima, many of them traveling to the capital from remote Andean regions, to demand the resignation of President Dina Boluarte.

The unrest in Cusco is leading to a significant loss of tourism revenue. 

The Cusco airport was briefly shut down last week after protesters tried to storm it. Train service to Machu Picchu has been closed since Thursday due to damage to the tracks.

Also Saturday, police raided Peru’s most important public university in Lima to evict protesters who were being housed at the campus while participating in big demonstrations. 

More than 100 people were detained, Interior Minister Vicente Romero said.

Police used a small tank to burst into the National University of San Marcos in the morning. 

Hundreds of protesters congregated outside the law enforcement offices where the detainees were being held Saturday evening chanting "Freedom" and "We’re students, not terrorists." 

Until recently, the protests had been concentrated in the country’s south. 

More than 55 people have died in the ensuing unrest, most recently on Friday night when a protester was killed and at least nine others injured in clashes with police in Puno. A total of 21 protesters and one police officer have died in the southern region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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FaviconRussian Wagner Group gains global notoriety from Africa to Ukraine, but division brews at home 22 Jan 2023, 2:30 pm

The private Wagner mercenary group making headlines across the globe has proven vital to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, but its successes have also revealed division in Moscow’s war effort. 

White House National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby told reporters Friday the U.S. assesses there is mounting tension between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has long held close links to Putin.

Russia claimed victory in the fiercely fought battle over the town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine earlier this month, showing blatant rifts between the defense ministry, which awarded the victory to its troops, and the Putin-aligned Prigozhin, who said the rare achievement was due to his hired men.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA WAR: ZELENSKYY SAYS HE CAN'T USE 'WORDS INSTEAD OF GUNS' AS DEFENSE CHIEFS FAIL ON TANK DEAL

The defense ministry, which has long distanced itself from the Wagner Group, then issued an unusual statement and said the town was taken in a "heterogeneous" effort to pinch Soledar from the north and south.

The direct assault on city blocks "was accomplished with the courageous and selfless actions of the Wagner PMC volunteer assault troops," the ministry added. 

"We are seeing indications, including in intelligence, that tensions between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense are increasing," Kirby told reporters Friday. "Wagner is becoming a rival power center to the Russian military and other Russian ministries."

For years, the Russian government has denied any connection with the private military company (PMC) despite reports ranging from firsthand accounts to U.N.-level records showing the shadow force has been used to pursue Kremlin-based interests from the Middle East and Africa to Ukraine, particularly the interests of Putin.

"Wagner PMC was formed as a military branch for hybrid operations outside of Russia under the auspices of the FSB [Federal Security Services]," Wagner expert Oleksander Kovalenko told Fox News Digital in reference to the intelligence agency that replaced the infamous KGB.

Kovalenko, a military supervisor of the Information Resistance group in Ukraine that began countering propaganda following Russia’s 2014 invasion, explained that Russia’s use of private miliary groups is nothing new. 

"It all started back in the days of the USSR," he said, noting that power struggles over foreign campaigns arose between the KGB and the Ministry of Defense.

"Priority for operational activities abroad has always been given to the military and military intelligence — the GRU," Kovalenko said, noting that the KGB pushed the GRU for greater access and budget.

"But everything changed with the arrival of Putin."

Putin, who served as a foreign intelligence officer in the KGB nearly two decades, favored the FSB and awarded it more freedoms than it was historically allotted. 

"It was with his blessing that the first steps to form a PMC began," Kovalenko added. 

US ADVISES UKRAINE TO HOLD OFF ON MAJOR OFFENSIVE UNTIL LATEST ARMS SHIPMENT: REPORT

The first signs of Putin’s mercenary force arose during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014. By 2015, the hired soldiers were doing Putin’s bidding in Syria to support it's president, Bashar al-Assad, and to carry out objectives the Kremlin did not want its military linked to.

Wagner is now believed to operate not only in Ukraine and Syria, but across Africa in the Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Madagascar and possibly Eritrea.

"At first glance, it may seem that PMC Wagner's presence in a particular African country is a business and nothing else," Kovalenko explained. "For example, in the Central African Republic, this is not just the service of the local dictator and his protection for hard cash. 

"It is also control over deposits of precious metals and stones," he added.

Kovalenko said that control over natural resources is just one of Russia’s aims.

"Russia’s goal is to spread its influence on the African continent, take control of the local government and, as the final goal, create a pool of African states loyal to [Moscow]," Kovalenko said, noting that these tactics are carried out through information warfare, interference in elections and the general destabilization of societies. 

US DECLARES WAGNER GROUP 'TRANSNATIONAL CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION,' ORDERS FRESH SANCTIONS: NSC SPOKESMAN

While 10,000 Russian mercenaries are estimated to be spread across Africa, the Wagner enterprise has grown substantially since Putin invaded Ukraine.

Some 50,000 Wagner forces are estimated to be operating in Ukraine, Kirby confirmed Friday, a feat made possible only because of Prigozhin’s ability to turn to Russia’s penal system after the group saw massive losses early on in the war. 

Of the 50,000 hired soldiers in Ukraine, roughly 10,000 are believed to be professional contractors while 40,000 are convicts, Kirby confirmed. 

Following this shift in recruitment, Kovalenko explained, the group has been divided between professional mercenaries with combat experience that generally work in Africa and the Middle East or are training Russian troops in Belarus and the penal recruits that he said are used as "live meat," bodies to fill the front lines. 

Kovalenko said an estimated 20,000 Wagner mercenaries were sent to the Bakhmut axis in Donetsk alone, though he noted the situation remains "fluid" and is therefore difficult to know how many have been killed or backfilled. 

Ukraine estimates that Russia has lost over 120,000 soldiers, though it is unclear if this also includes Wagner forces as mercenaries not generally considered among military casualties.

Wagner forces and Russian troops do not typically work together. Despite the statement from the defense ministry regarding the joint effort to capture Soledar, the Russian government maintains a level of detachment from the mercenary group.

"PMC Wagner is dangerous because it maintains contacts with many radical groups around the world," Kovalenko said, including groups in the Donbas. "Wagnerites do not comply with the Geneva Convention."

The Wagner expert said that Prigozhin extorts captured Ukrainian soldiers for money, often returning them "crippled, with terrible bodily injuries," though Fox News Digital could not independently verify these exchanges. 

"Therefore, at the official level, a direct connection between PMC Wagner and the Russian government will never be recognized," he added. "This makes it easier to ignore the crimes … not only in Ukraine but throughout the world."

Despite asserted separations between the Russian defense ministry and Wagner, they share an undeniable copacetic relationship.

"Therein lies the paradox. After all, mercilessly criticizing and attacking the Russian Defense Ministry, Prigozhin bites the hand that provides him with everything necessary for the war," Kovalenko said. 

"After all, where did PMC Wagner get its tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, helicopters and planes, artillery and ammunition in huge quantities?" he adked. "Is this FSB giving to Prigozhin? No. All this is provided by the Ministry of Defense."

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FaviconKing Charles III coronation: New details released by Buckingham Palace, including star-studded concert 22 Jan 2023, 6:34 am

Buckingham Palace on Saturday released new details about King Charles III’s weekend-long coronation celebration this May, which will include a star-studded televised concert at Windsor Palace.

The festivities will start with Charles and Queen Consort Camilla's coronations at Westminster Abbey on the morning of May 6 (where Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral was held), which will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The palace called it a "solemn religious service, as well as an occasion for celebration and pageantry."

"As previously announced, the Service will reflect the Monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry," the palace said in a release. 

It is expected to be a more slimmed-down event compared to the late queen's 1953 coronation. 

The king and queen consort will arrive from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey in the "King’s Procession" and will proceed back to the palace afterward in the larger "Coronation Procession" that will include members of the royal family. 

KING CHARLES CORONATION AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY SCHEDULED FOR MAY 2023

The royal family then will appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to conclude the day’s events. 

The palace gave no information on whether Prince Harry, who is promoting his book "Spare," which is highly critical of the royal family, or Meghan Markle will attend the coronation or any of its surrounding events. 

Harry declined to say if he would accept an invitation to the coronation in a recent interview, saying, "There's a lot that can happen between now and then. But the door is always open. The ball is in their court." 

On Saturday, May 7, "global music icons and contemporary stars" will headline a BBC-produced Coronation Concert at Windsor Castle. The palace didn’t specify who would be performing at the show.

PRINCE HARRY SAYS 400 PAGES CUT FROM BOOK ‘SPARE’ BECAUSE WILLIAM, CHARLES WOULD NEVER FORGIVE HIM 

The concert is open to the public and will include volunteers from the king and queen consort’s charities. Through a national ballot several thousand Britons will receive free tickets to the show.

The concert will also have an orchestra, dancers, a Coronation Choir made up of community choirs from across the country and "spoken word sequences delivered by stars of stage and screen." 

During the show, iconic landmarks across the U.K. will be lit for "Lighting up the Nation." 

On Sunday, people across the country are invited to have a meal together for the Coronation Big Lunches, a nationwide act of celebration and friendship. "From a cup of tea with a neighbour to a street party, a Coronation Big Lunch brings the celebrations to your neighbourhood and is a great way to get to know your community a little better," the palace said. 

The Big Help Out, a volunteering initiative, will be held on Monday, May 8, and "will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being undertaken to support their local areas."

Charles and Camilla "hope the Coronation Weekend will provide an opportunity to spend time and celebrate with friends, families and communities across the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth," the release said. "Their Majesties are looking forward to marking the occasion with the public throughout 2023."

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FaviconUK prime minister fined after appearing to wear no seat belt in video 21 Jan 2023, 11:09 pm

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will pay a fine for not wearing a seatbelt while filming a video to promote an economic program Friday.

The fine, issued by Lancashire Police to a "42-year-old man from London," will cost around £100, or roughly $124 – pennies for a man who has a net-worth greater than that of the King of England. The fine can increase to £500, or roughly $620, should the case go to court. 

Sunak had visited Lancashire to film the video as part of a trip across the north of England. He was trying to promote the government’s latest spending bill, which aimed to help "level up" or improve facilities and infrastructure in key parts of the country. 

In the video, posted to Instagram, Sunak sits in the back of a car discussing how the government plans to spend its £2.1 billion fund, but eagle-eyed viewers couldn’t help noticing the prime minister wasn’t wearing a seat belt. 

BABY ATTACKED BY ALLEGED ‘KILLER NURSE’ LUCY LETBY RECOVERED AFTER BEING MOVED TO NEW HOSPITAL

Representatives for the prime ministers told the BBC that Sunak "fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologized," adding he would indeed pay the fine.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told BBC Breakfast that Sunak "made a mistake on the seatbelt issue." 

BRITISH SCIENTISTS BELIEVE POLLUTION DID NOT CAUSE UK MASS CRAB DEATHS

Sunak has previously paid a fine for breaching COVID-19 lockdown rules after he attended a birthday gathering for then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street in June 2020. 

The multiple penalties, called "fixed penalty notices" in the U.K., must be paid within 28 days.

UK MAN FINE FOR SILENTLY PRAYING OUTSIDE ABORTION CLINIC: REPORT

"From partygate to seatbelt gate, these Conservative politicians are just taking the British people for fools," Deputy Liberal Democrats Leader Daisy Cooper said of the video. "Whilst they continue to behave as though it's one rule for them and another for everyone else, this fine is a reminder that the Conservatives eventually get their comeuppance."

Conservative Party members of parliament (MPs) have defended their party leader: Scott Benton, a Conservative MP for Blackpool South, said that police should worry more about "tackling serious crime" rather than focusing on a "mistake." 

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"Let's keep this in proportion here. Every single year millions of Britons receive similar fixed penalty notices," Benton said of the issue. 

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FaviconChinese New Year brings new COVID-19 fears in rural areas as millions travel home for holiday 21 Jan 2023, 7:06 pm

BEIJING, China - With the first infections of COVID-19 cases in China's big cities having passed, all eyes are on the rural areas as a new wave of infections is predicted, preparing China's remote and often poorer regions will be complicated. 

"Even with good healthcare facilities in a big city like Shanghai, we were completely overwhelmed. We can only wait and see what happens in the countryside," a 25-year-old medical student working as a pediatrician at one of Shanghai’s largest children's hospitals told Fox News Digital.

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"When the government unexpectedly let go of all COVID-19 restrictions, we didn't know what hit us. We weren't prepared at all."

The pediatrician, who withheld her name due to security concerns, said, "The hospital was packed. Everywhere you looked were parents with their children. I work about 55 hours during a regular week, but I stopped counting the hours during the peak. We weren't forced to work overtime, but we all knew that if we wouldn't, there would be no way we could help everybody."

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She said that conditions for treating the sick were minimal. "We had four to five minutes per patient. I felt bad, because the parents had to wait hours before seeing a doctor, and we could only do a few minutes' assessment. But there was no other way. Thankfully, the parents were so grateful. I guess it's obvious we are all in this together."

In most of China's biggest cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, the first COVID peak has passed. In a recent study published by Frontiers of Medicine, a Chinese-government-sponsored journal, Shanghainese experts predict the first wave to hit Chinese rural areas toward the end of January. 

As China celebrates the Lunar New Year, experts worry that the millions of people who have left the big cities could lead to rural regions of the country being walloped by the virus due to poor healthcare facilities. People who live a few hours away from the cities are advised to travel back to their cities in case they get sick, but that is only an option for some. 

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"It's not difficult to assess when a child is seriously ill from COVID. Any basic doctor can do it both in the city and the countryside. The problem isn't a lack of knowledge but a lack of facilities. For serious cases, people have to come to the bigger cities for treatment," the pediatrician from Shanghai added. 

Fortunately, the children's hospital where she works is better prepared for an influx of patients. Doctors from other departments are scheduled to work at the fever clinic, more rooms have been cleared, and medicine seems available again. "I'm ready for the second wave. It can't get much worse than the first one," she said.

For the first time since lifting its zero-COVID restrictions in early December 2022, Chinese authorities published data on COVID-related fatalities last weekend. According to official statistics, nearly 60,000 deaths were recorded at hospitals between December 8, 2022, and January 12, 2023. Jiao Yahui, head of the Bureau of Medical Administration under the National Health Commission, further specified that approximately 54,000 fatalities were linked to underlying health conditions. 

Experts outside of China, including within the World Health Organization, point out that these numbers seem unrealistically low. According to projections from the U.S.-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), China is likely to reach one million COVID deaths in 2023.

"The only way I can explain these low numbers is that people won't let their loved ones die in the hospital. As for children, they are always taken home by their parents when there is no hope of recovery," explains the pediatrician. In those cases, it would be more challenging to keep track of COVID deaths.

In comments reported by state media on Thursday, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said that the virus was at a "relatively low" level, while health officials said that the number of COVID patients in hospitals and with critical conditions was on the decline.

Reuters contributed to this article.

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