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Reuters.com

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“Genocide can never be a legitimate foreign policy choice,” plaintiffs argue in case against Biden, Blinken and Austin.

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A prominent female #MeToo activist in China has been handed a five-year jail sentence for "subversion against the state".

Sophia Huang Xueqin was convicted and sentenced on Friday, nearly 10 months after she went on trial.

Labour activist Wang Jianbing, who stood trial with Ms Huang, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

Ms Huang, 36, had been one of the most prominent voices in China's #MeToo space, reporting ground-breaking stories about sexual abuse victims.

She had also spoken out about the misogyny and sexism she faced in Chinese newsrooms.

Chinese authorities have not made it clear how the two stood accused of subversion. The trial was a closed-door hearing.

But their supporters say they were detained because they hosted regular meetings and forums for young people to discuss social issues.

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The French political class is tearing itself apart with feuding and backbiting ahead of this month’s vote.

We’re only four days into France’s election campaign and the vendettas are already boiling over in a melodramatic flurry of grab-your-popcorn vaudeville acts

Humiliated in the EU election, President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday called a national parliamentary election, hoping to stem the tidal advances of the far right. 

His rivals tried to seize on the historic moment to set enmities aside and unite — but things haven’t gone as planned, to put it mildly. 

In the country’s main center-right party, the besieged leader barricaded himself in party headquarters claiming he was still in command, until a rival turned up with a spare key to demonstrate that was no longer the case. 

On the far right, two prominent figures descended into open warfare, with one accusing the other of setting “the world record for betrayal.” 

Meanwhile, on the left, a co-operation agreement has been struck and parties seem intent on putting their differences behind them — but tensions still crackle between two star figures, in terms of both personality and issues including Ukraine and Gaza.

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"Dozens of tons of cocaine have been taken out of circulation," German authorities said. The drugs were first uncovered in Hamburg last year.

Investigators in Germany have discovered a record amount of cocaine worth several billion euros, authorities reported on Friday.

"Dozens of tons of cocaine worth several billion euros have been taken out of circulation," the Baden-Württemberg State Office of Criminal Investigation and the Customs Investigation Office in Stuttgart, as well as the Düsseldorf public prosecutor's office announced.

The huge quantity of drugs was first discovered in the port of Hamburg last year, and, according to the German news agency DPA, originated in South America.

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Campaigners say next government must reduce use and toxicity of pesticides before it is too late

The UK’s insect populations are declining at alarming rates and the next government must put in place plans to monitor and reduce the use and toxicity of pesticides before it is too late, wildlife experts say.

In recent years, concerns have been raised over earthworm populations, which have fallen by a third in the past 25 years. A citizen science project that monitors flying insects in the UK, meanwhile, found a 60% decline between 2004 and 2021. The overall trajectory, as government monitoring figures show, has been downwards since the 1970s.

Yet despite the evidence of the harmful effect of pesticides on our insect population, governmental action has been slow, and experts are concerned that the UK is failing to monitor pesticide use correctly.

“There is an almost complete lack of effective monitoring of pesticide use in UK agriculture,” said Nick Mole, the policy officer at Pesticide Action Network UK. “What little we do have is incomplete, out of date and on such a broad scale as to be virtually meaningless.

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Vladimir Putin has demanded that Kyiv cede more land, withdraw troops deeper inside its own country, and drop its Nato bid in order for him to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Putin’s fresh ceasefire demands were issued as envoys from more than 90 countries, including Ukraine, convene in Switzerland this weekend to discuss a western-led peace plan. Russia is not invited to the conference and the president’s remarks on Friday were likely to have been timed as a spoiler to that summit.

Speaking with diplomats at the Russian foreign ministry, Putin publicly updated his terms for ending the war in Ukraine for the first time since he launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022, when he demanded regime change in Kyiv and the country’s “demilitarisation”.

The US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, said Putin was in “no position” to make demands on Ukraine and could end the war he had started “today if he chose to do that.”

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Germans under 25 gave the AfD 16% of their vote in the European elections, with particular support in the east

Paul Friedrich, 16, could not wait to cast his first ballot and had no doubt which German party had earned his support in the watershed European elections.

“Correct, I voted AfD,” he said proudly in the bustle of the commuter railway station in Brandenburg an der Havel, an hour from central Berlin.

The far-right Alternative für Deutschland made particularly stunning gains on Sunday among young voters. For the first time in a national poll, 16- and 17-year-olds could cast their ballots – a reform that had been strongly backed by left-leaning parties.

After overwhelmingly supporting the Greens five years ago, Germans under 25 gave the AfD 16% of their vote – an 11-point rise – helping place the party second behind the opposition CDU-CSU conservatives and well ahead of the Social Democrats of the chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

The AfD tapped deep wells of support in the former communist east, winning in every state including Brandenburg, where it claimed 27.5% of the vote.

And his concerns echo those of many teenagers and twentysomethings in town: fears of war spreading in Europe, inflation, economic decline, “unchecked” immigration and, above all, violent crime, which they say is rampant when they use public transport or hang out in public spaces at night.

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Over the past week, three search and rescue operations have been started for tourists who have gone missing during treks on far-flung islands, including one for the popular TV presenter Michael Mosley, who was found dead on the island of Symi.

In recent days, emergency services have also been called out to two other far-flung islands, Samos and Amorgos, to look for an elderly Dutch man and a US national who disappeared on hiking trails.

Eric Calibet, 59, a retired Los Angeles police officer and regular visitor to Amorgos, was last seen on Tuesday making a solo trek across the Cycladic isle. He had set out at 7am to hike for four hours, on a day when temperatures were slated to exceed 37C. By late Thursday, nearly 48 hours after the friend he was staying with alerted police about his failure to return, Calibet was still missing. His last known contact is believed to be a message he sent from his mobile phone to his sister.

A search operation on Samos – involving a rescue team, four drones, a sniffer dog brought in from Athens and a Frontex EU border agency helicopter – has also failed to find the 74-year-old Dutch national, who had similarly embarked on a five-hour hike when he vanished.

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A senior Hamas official has said the group does not know how many of the Israeli hostages it is holding in Gaza are still alive, as Israeli and Hamas sources set out positions that could undermine the possibility of an imminent ceasefire deal.

The Lebanon-based Hamas official Osama Hamdan said in an interview with CNN that “no one has any idea” how many of the remaining 120 hostages captured on 7 October last year were still alive, amid Israeli estimates that at least a third had died in captivity or were killed when seized.

Reiterating Hamas’s position on the US-supported ceasefire proposal, now backed by a UN security council resolution, he said the group needed “a clear position from Israel to accept the ceasefire, a complete withdrawal from Gaza, and let the Palestinians to determine their future by themselves”.

He also referred to the need for reconstruction and the end of the years-long Israeli blockade of Gaza. “[Then] we are ready to talk about a fair deal about the prisoners exchange,” he said.

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The U.S.-built pier to bring food to Gaza is facing one of its most serious challenges yet — its humanitarian partner is deciding if it can safely and ethically keep delivering supplies arriving by the U.S. sea route to starving Palestinians.

The United Nations, the player with the widest reach delivering aid within Gaza, has paused its work with the pier after a June 8 operation by Israeli security forces that rescued four Israeli hostages and killed more than 270 Palestinians.

Rushing out a mortally wounded Israeli commando after the raid, Israeli rescuers opted against returning the way they came, across a land border, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, told reporters. Instead, they sped toward the beach and the site of the U.S. aid hub on Gaza’s coast, he said. An Israeli helicopter touched down near the U.S.-built pier and helped whisk away hostages and the commando, according to the U.S. and Israeli militaries.

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The project was a test to see how artificial intelligence might change one of the most delicate types of human interaction: the interpersonal apology. The companies who make AI-powered chatbots suggest we should find ways to insert them into our lives when we don’t know what to say or how to say it. That’s all well and good when responding to an unimportant email. But what about tasks that involve a mastery of subtle human interactions? Can you use a tool like ChatGPT to write better apologies? For that matter, should you?

"A couple of things were important," Cerulo says. Shorter apologies worked better. People liked seeing the victims discussed first, even before the description of the harmful act. Less explanation of the offender's behaviour was typically more effective – otherwise it came off as justification. And the apologiser needed to end with restitution, promising to do better or explaining a plan to make things right. "It's pretty simple," Cerulo says, "but people still have a hard time doing it".

Sometimes that's because apologisers are worried about consequences. Admissions of guilt may even come with legal repercussions with a serious offense. But most often, Cerulo says the problem is people don't want to accept that they've made a mistake. Apologising can feel like it lowers your social status. Pride gets in the way.

That may give AI an advantage. Robots don't have pride to worry about. And if apologies are formulaic on some level, that's just the kind of thing the statistical machines of AI should be able to handle.

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From June 1 to June 11, Israeli forces killed over 800 Palestinians and wounded over 2,400 as they carried out bombardments and raids across Gaza, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported. This is an average of over 72 Palestinians killed each day at the hands of Israeli forces.

This includes Israel’s assault of Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday that killed 274 Palestinians, including 64 children, and injured 698 others, with Israeli forces carrying out one of the most deadly single attacks of their genocidal siege so far in order to retrieve four Israelis held hostage in Gaza. The attack was carried out on a bustling civilian center in the middle of the day, raising questions about whether Israeli forces violated international law.

The 11-day death toll also includes at least 70 Palestinians killed and over 300 wounded due to heavy Israeli shelling in central Gaza on June 4, MSF said; and at least 40 Palestinians killed and 74 wounded on June 6, when Israel bombed a UN school-turned-shelter in Nuseirat. The killings of hundreds of Palestinians in other Israeli attacks, ranging across southern, central and northern Gaza, in the first days of June have otherwise been largely ignored by news outlets, and are hardly documented by official sources.

Behind each death is a horrifying story of a Palestinian who lived through months of displacement, constant bombardment, hunger and likely the loss of family members, bearing witness to the 37,000 people killed by Israel in Gaza over eight months just to themselves be killed by Israeli forces. Survivors recall horrors, like children who recount being pulled out of the rubble of their homes, and the pervading smell of death.

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President Joe Biden touted on Thursday several new major U.S. commitments for Ukraine that were announced this week, including a 10-year bilateral security agreement, sanctions to disrupt Russia's war machine, and a sign-off from the G7 on a $50 billion loan backed by frozen Russian assets.

Biden, in during a press conference in Italy with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the collective efforts by the G7 show that Russian President Vladimir Putin "cannot wait us out, he cannot divide us, and we'll be with Ukraine until they prevail this war." 

On the bilateral agreement, Biden said the goal is to "strengthen Ukraine's credible defense and deterrence capabilities for the long term."

He reiterated his position that American troops will not fight in Ukraine, but the United States would provide them with weapons.

Zelenskyy called it a "historic day" after signing the "strongest agreement between Ukraine and the U.S. since our independence."

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A U.S. Navy submarine has arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in a show of force as a fleet of Russian warships gather for planned military exercises in the Caribbean.

U.S. Southern Command said the USS Helena, a nuclear-powered fast attack submarine, pulled into the waters near the U.S. base in Cuba on Thursday, just a day after a Russian frigate, a nuclear-powered submarine, an oil tanker and a rescue tug crossed into Havana Bay after drills in the Atlantic Ocean.

The stop is part of a “routine port visit” as the submarine travels through Southern Command’s region, it said in a social media post.

Other U.S. ships also have been tracking and monitoring the Russian drills, which Pentagon officials say do not represent a threat to the United States.

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