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French far right seeks alliance with conservatives after stunning EU Parliament wins

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French far right seeks alliance with conservatives after stunning EU Parliament wins

Empowered by a stunning triumph at the European elections, France’s far-right National Rally on Tuesday hit the national campaign trail with its star leader, Jordan Bardella, promising supporters “the largest possible majority” at the upcoming parliamentary vote.

Opposition parties on the left and right have been scrambling to form alliances and field candidates in the snap national elections called by President Emmanuel Macron after his party suffered a crushing defeat by the far right in the European Parliament vote on Sunday.

A win for the National Rally in the national elections could result in the French far right leading a government for the first time since World War II.

EUROPEAN VOTERS REJECT SOCIALISM, FAR-LEFT POLICIES IN EU PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS: ‘POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE’

While sharp differences between parties remain on either side of the political spectrum, prominent figures calling for a united front appear to have one thing in common: They don’t want to cooperate with Macron.

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Despite their divisions, left-wing parties agreed late Monday to form an alliance that includes the Greens, the Socialists, the Communists and the far-left France Unbowed of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Leaders have not agreed on who will head the coalition nor on its program.

In light of the European polls, politicians on the left are focused on closing ranks to prevent a win for the National Rally. For now, they have also vowed not to join forces with Macron’s centrists.

In a joint statement, the alliance called on all forces on the left, including the influential labor unions, to unite behind a “new popular front” to form an “alternative to Emmanuel Macron and to fight against the racist project of the far right.”

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen delivers a speech as Jordan Bardella, president of the French far-right National Rally, listens at the party election night headquarters after French President Emmanuel Macron announced he dissolved the National Assembly and calls new legislative election after defeat in EU vote, Sunday, June 9, 2024 in Paris. First projected results from France put far-right National Rally party well ahead in EU elections, according to French opinion poll institutes. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen is working to consolidate power on the right ahead of the two-round elections on June 30 and July 7. Le Pen’s niece, Marion Maréchal, who won a seat in the European Parliament on Sunday as a member of the rival Reconquer! party of Éric Zemmour, on Monday visited National Rally headquarters in Paris to negotiate a far-right alliance.

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Family ties aside, Maréchal said Tuesday that Bardella informed her of a change of heart in the National Rally regarding a pact with the Reconquer! party. Bardella offered “a regrettable explanation against an agreement by saying that (Le Pen’s party) does not want to be associated directly or indirectly with Éric Zemmour,” Maréchal said in a statement.

Le Pen also met with members of the conservative Republicans party to discuss a united front. Some conservative lawmakers have supported some of Macron’s bills in the National Assembly since the president lost a majority in the lower house of the French parliament following the 2022 general election.

“We have a historic chance to allow the national camp to put France back on track,” Le Pen said in an interview with the French public broadcaster on Monday evening. She said the National Rally and the conservatives could agree on several policy goals, including an economic recovery plan, boosting purchasing power and curbing immigration.

The Republicans’ President Éric Ciotti said he wants an agreement with Le Pen, prompting several prominent members of his party to call for his resignation. Ciotti insisted the conservatives need the alliance for their political survival.

“I want my political family to move in this direction,” he said in an interview with the French public broadcaster on Tuesday. He blasted what he said was Macron’s bloc within the conservative party, “which has led the country to where it is today — with more violence, more insecurity.”

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“A right-wing bloc, a national bloc … is what the vast majority of our voters want,” Ciotti said.

Bardella, Le Pen’s 28-year-old protégé and the face of the far right’s European triumph, also urged French conservatives to ride the wave of popularity with the National Rally. He urged the conservatives to “stop being Emmanuel Macron’s political crutch” and “come and work alongside us.”

French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire called on Macron’s Renaissance party members to “make room” in their ranks for those conservatives who refuse to cooperate with the far right at the election.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal met with the outgoing Renaissance lawmakers still reeling from their defeat by the far right and the president’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly.

Attal acknowledged that the dissolution was “a brutal decision” for the lawmakers, but he urged them to prepare for “the new fight.”

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“You embody stability against chaos … courage against populism,” Attal said.

Macron is expected to discuss the upcoming election in a news conference scheduled for Wednesday.

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U.S. bus company Coach files for bankruptcy to sell its business

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U.S. bus company Coach files for bankruptcy to sell its business
Coach USA, the operator of Megabus and other commuter bus lines in the U.S. and Canada, filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware late Tuesday, seeking to sell its assets and shed debt incurred in an ill-timed 2019 private equity buyout.
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Mexico finds the remains of some of the 63 miners who died 18 years ago

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Mexico finds the remains of some of the 63 miners who died 18 years ago

Mexican authorities announced Wednesday that they found the remains of some of the 63 miners who were trapped 18 years ago in a coal mine in northern Mexico.

The accident occurred at the Pasta de Conchos mine in the state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, on Feb. 19, 2006. Of the 73 miners on duty, eight survived with serious burns, and two bodies were recovered.

2 MEXICAN COAL MINERS KILLED IN ACCIDENT AT ILLEGAL MINE

The Interior ministry said Wednesday that after years of searching they were able to locate “the first human remains” in one of the mine’s chambers, but they did not specify when the remains were recovered.

The accident is considered one of the biggest mining tragedies in the country.

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Pedestrians walk by a sculpture of a bright red number 65 that pays homage to the coal miners killed in the 2006 Pasta de Conchos mine accident, in Mexico City. Authorities announced on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, the discovery of the skeletal remains of some of the 63 miners who have remained missing for almost two decades. Sixty-five miners died in the explosion, but authorities only found two of the miners’ bodies.  (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

It wasn’t until 2020 when President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made a promise to recover the bodies that the process began. Three consecutive governments opted not to try for the rest, saying it would be too dangerous and costly, with no guarantee of success. But victims’ relatives continued to press authorities on the issue over the years.

López Obrador put the Federal Electricity Commission, the nation’s public utility known as the CFE, in charge of the dig – mining and burning coal to reach the long-buried miners.

In the chamber where remains were found there were 13 miners working the day of the accident, according to the Interior ministry.

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The government indicated it has not yet determined if an explosion caused the mine’s collapse.

The Coahuila state prosecutor’s office, in collaboration with the National Search Commission and the National Institute of Genomics Medicine, will begin analyzing the remains for identification and try to determine the cause of the accident.

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Significant part of Gaza facing ‘famine-like conditions’, WHO says

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Significant part of Gaza facing ‘famine-like conditions’, WHO says

Thousands of Palestinian children in Gaza have been diagnosed with malnutrition, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, as Israel continues to severely restrict supplies of food, water, medicine and fuel to the territory.

“A significant proportion of Gaza’s population is now facing catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Wednesday.

“Despite reports of increased delivery of food, there is currently no evidence that those who need it most are receiving sufficient quantity and quality of food.”

Tedros said 8,000 children under five years old have been diagnosed and treated for acute malnutrition in Gaza.

“However, due to insecurity and lack of access, only two stabilisation centres for severely malnourished patients can operate,” the WHO chief added.

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Tedros said 32 deaths in the besieged Palestinian enclave have been attributed to malnutrition.

United Nations officials have warned of the risk of famine as Israel continues its war on Gaza. In January, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to “ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza”.

The UN’s top court reasserted that ruling in March, demanding that Israel take “all necessary and effective measures to ensure, without delay… the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”.

Some of Israel’s closest allies, including the United States, have also called for more aid to enter Gaza and reach people in need.

Last month, Israel seized and shut down the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which had served as a major gateway for aid and humanitarian workers.

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Last month, International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on charges of alleged war crimes, including using “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare”.

A UN-backed independent commission also accused Israel of inflicting hunger on Palestinians.

“In relation to Israeli military operations and attacks in Gaza, the Commission found that Israeli authorities are responsible for the war crimes of starvation as a method of warfare, murder or wilful killing, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, forcible transfer, sexual violence, torture and inhuman or cruel treatment, arbitrary detention and outrages upon personal dignity,” the panel said in a report on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this week that Israel has taken “important steps” in recent months to remove obstacles to aid delivery in Gaza, but he acknowledged that it “can and must do more”.

“It is crucial to speed up the inspection of trucks and reduce backlogs; to provide greater clarity on – and shorten the list of – prohibited goods; to increase visas for aid workers and to process them more quickly,” he said at a Gaza aid conference in Jordan on Tuesday.

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Blinken, who announced $404m in new assistance to Palestinians, also called for “clearer, more effective channels” to protect humanitarian workers from military operations.

Israeli attacks have killed at least 270 aid workers in Gaza, including seven World Central Kitchen employees in April – an incident that sparked global outrage.

Aid organisations have been stressing that even the inadequate aid that gets into Gaza often fails to reach people who need it most because of the Israeli offensive.

“The US’s latest humanitarian package for Gaza is a welcome step,” the International Rescue Committee said on Wednesday. “However, the effective delivery of any financial package depends wholly on unfettered access for aid and the ability for aid workers to operate seamlessly.”

Beyond Gaza, the WHO’s Tedros highlighted a growing health crisis in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces have killed hundreds of people since the outbreak of the war.

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“WHO has documented 480 attacks on healthcare in the West Bank since the seventh of October last year, resulting in 16 deaths and 95 injuries,” he said.

In one major incident, undercover Israeli forces raided a hospital in Jenin and killed three people inside the medical centre.

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