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King Charles III Resumes Public Duties After Cancer Treatment

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King Charles III Resumes Public Duties
King Charles III: Image Buckinham Palace

King Charles III is returning to royal duties next week after a three-month hiatus to focus on his treatment and recovery after being diagnosed with an unidentified type of cancer, Buckingham Palace announced Friday.

Charles will commemorate the occasion by visiting a cancer treatment center on Tuesday, the first of several public appearances planned for the coming weeks, according to the palace. One of his first significant obligations will be to welcome a state visit by Japan’s emperor and empress in June.

The palace stated that the king’s doctors are “very encouraged” by his improvement, but it is too early to determine how long his therapy will endure. It did not specify what type of treatment he is undergoing.

Charles will continue to do all of his official obligations, including examining government documents and meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as he has since his diagnosis on February 5, according to the palace.

“As the one-year anniversary of the coronation approaches, their majesties remain deeply grateful for the many kindnesses and good wishes they have received from around the world throughout the joys and challenges of the past year,” the palace said in a statement.

King Charles Slimming Down the Monarchy

Charles’ homecoming will relieve pressure on other members of the royal family, since the king’s absence, combined with that of the Princess of Wales, who was also ill, underlined the issues faced by a slimmed-down monarchy.

With the king’s commitment to cut costs and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — more commonly known as Prince Harry and Meghan — deciding to step down from royal duties, there are simply fewer family members available to carry out the never-ending round of ribbon cuttings, awards ceremonies, and state events that comprise a modern royal’s life.

Charles has remained largely out of the public eye since undergoing treatment for an enlarged prostate in January. His later cancer diagnosis occurred as one of the most popular royals, the Princess of Wales, underwent stomach surgery and later revealed that she, too, had cancer. Prince William took time off to support his wife and their small children.

That left Queen Camilla, the king’s sister Princess Anne, and his younger brother, Prince Edward, to bear the burden.

Camilla, who was formerly despised by the public for her participation in the dissolution of Charles’ marriage to Princess Diana, took on an especially prominent role during the king’s absence, filling in for her husband at significant events such as the traditional Royal Maundy ceremony on the Thursday before Easter.

Modernizing the Monarchy

King Charles homecoming will provide an opportunity for him to revive his reign, which began in September 2022 with expectations that he would modernize the monarchy while reaching out to young people and minority groups to consolidate the royal family’s status in the twenty-first century.

Charles’ challenges include developing ties with the Commonwealth and the 14 independent countries outside the United Kingdom where the British monarch remains head of state, which some see as an unpleasant reminder of Britain’s colonial past.

The king’s return is essential because it will help to settle rumors about his health, according to royal historian George Gross, who cited Queen Elizabeth II’s maxim that the monarch must be seen to be believed.

“I think there is that feeling that it’s very difficult to have a functioning monarchy with the head of state away for any significant length of time,” said Gross, who founded the British Coronations Project at King’s College London. “And this felt like a long time.”

The palace stated that Charles’ obligations in the next months will be adjusted as needed to reduce any risks to his rehabilitation. He will not have a full summer program, and his attendance will be chosen closer to each event and in consultation with his doctors.

The summer months are typically a busy time for the royals, with significant events like the monarch’s birthday parade, known as Trooping the Colour, and the horse races at Royal Ascot.

The majority of these showcase events take place outside, which reduces the danger of infection for a cancer patient whose immune system may be compromised.

The public will gladly welcome Charles’ comeback, thanks in part to his decision to publicize his initial prostate ailment and subsequently his cancer diagnosis, which prompted many people to consult with their doctors, according to Gross.

“The monarch has seen that he can do good by discussing health and raising awareness of cancer,” he told The Associated Press. “I believe that’s at the top of this. And it is truly remarkable when a head of state can do good. That’s enormous.”

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World

Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

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ROME — In an uncommon public challenge to Pope Francis’ leadership, 49 Vatican Museums employees have launched a class-action complaint with the Vatican administration, asking for higher seniority, leave, and overtime benefits.

The complaint, dated April 23 and published this weekend in Italian newspapers, also claimed that staff faced health and security hazards as a result of cost-cutting and apparent profit-generating activities at the museum, such as congestion and fewer security guards to keep tourists at bay.

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Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

An email seeking comment received no response from the Vatican spokesman or Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, chief of the City State administration that oversees the museums.

The complaint is the latest judicial challenge highlighting how the Vatican’s laws, regulations, and procedures frequently conflict with Italian and European principles. Recently, civil and criminal cases have revealed how employees, particularly lay Italian nationals, have little or no legal recourse outside the city state’s unique court system, an absolute monarchy in which Francis wields supreme executive, legislative, and judicial power.

Museum employees cited the Catholic Church’s social teaching and Francis’ appeals to employers to respect workers’ dignity when requesting better treatment in the class-action complaint that senior Vatican attorney Laura Sgro filed and signed on behalf of the 49 employees.

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Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

They sought, among other things, greater transparency about how staff might develop, the reinstatement of seniority bonuses, and the Vatican’s adherence to Italian sick-day policies. According to the complaint, employees are currently required to stay at home all day, rather than just a few hours, to await a potential visit to ensure that they are not simply taking the day off.

According to Vatican labor standards, Verzaga has 30 days to react to the allegation. If no talks commence, Sgro can take the claims to the Vatican’s labor office in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement, which might lead to a tribunal. However, the office can refuse to hear the case, and lawyers say this happens frequently, leaving the employees with no other options.

In recent instances before the Vatican tribunal, lawyers have indicated that they may seek to take employees’ grievances about the system to the European Court of Human Rights. The Holy See is neither a member of the court nor a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, some lawyers believe the Vatican committed to maintaining European human rights standards when it ratified the European Union Monetary Convention in 2009.

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Vatican Museums Staff Challenge The Pope With A Legal Bid For Better Terms And Treatment

The Museums are one of the principal sources of money, funding the Holy See bureaucracy, which serves as the official authority for the Catholic Church. The museums, which have experienced significant financial losses as a result of COVID-19 closures and limitations, raised the price of a full-price ticket to 20 euros ($21.50) at the beginning of the year, up from 17 euros.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Entertainment

Eurovision Explained, From ABBA To Zorra, As The Israel-Hamas War Overshadows The Song Contest

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Malmö, Sweden – Scores of musicians, hundreds of journalists, and thousands of music enthusiasts have converged in Malmo, Sweden, as the Eurovision Song Contest prepares for Saturday’s jubilant, glitter-drenched finale.

But even Eurovision cannot avoid the world’s divisions. Thousands of pro-Palestinian protestors are expected in the city to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and criticize Israel’s participation in the event.

Here’s an introduction to what Eurovision is, how it operates, and what to look for.

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What is Eurovision?

The short answer is that Eurovision is a music competition in which performers from around Europe and beyond compete under their national flags for the title of continental champion. Consider these the pop music Olympics.

The longer explanation is that Eurovision is an event that combines pop, partying, and politics, resembling a music festival, an awards show, and a United Nations Security Council meeting. It’s a crazy joyful festival that celebrates music’s unifying powerbut it’s also a venue for politics and regional rivalries.

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How does it work?

This year, the tournament will be held over many days in the Swedish coastal city of Malmo, which has entries from 37 countries. The country is hosting after Swedish singer Loreen won the competition last year in Liverpool, England.

After two semifinals, the artists have been reduced to 25, and they will compete in Saturday’s final in front of thousands of fans in the Malmo Arena and a global broadcast audience estimated at 180 million.

In an unusual move, the 26th finalist, Joost Klein of the Netherlands, was removed from the competition on Saturday due to “a complaint made by a female member of the production crew” that is being probed by police, according to organizers.

Nations may enter a solo act or a band. They can perform in any genre or language, but the regulations require them to sing live and limit their songs to three minutes. Staging has become increasingly extravagant, with spectacular pyrotechnics and sophisticated dance. This year is very great for topless male dancers.

After all of the acts have been performed, the winner is determined by a notoriously complex combination of phone and online votes from all around the world and rankings by music-industry juries in each Eurovision country. As the results are announced, countries move up and down the standings, and tensions rise. Ending up with “nul points,” or zero, is considered a national shame.

Eurovision’s musical style has evolved drastically since its inception in 1956. The early years of crooners and ballads gave way to cheery pop, as exemplified by possibly the greatest Eurovision song of all time, ABBA’s “Waterloo,” which won 50 years ago.

Euro-techno and power ballads are popular nowadays, but viewers choose rock, folk rap, and odd, unclassifiable music.

According to bookies, Swiss singer Nemo is a top contender, delivering “The Code,” a beautiful, operatic ballad. Nemo would be the first nonbinary performer to win the contest with a large LGBTQ+ following. A quarter century ago, Dana International became the contest’s first transgender winner.

Another nonbinary singer gaining traction is Ireland’s Bambie Thug, whose song “Doomsday Blue” is Gothic, passionate, over-the-top, and a true crowd-pleaser. They are the only contestants to bring a “scream coach” to Malmo.

Other acts expected to perform well include operatic Slovenian singer Raiven, Ukrainian rap-pop combo Alyona Alyona and Jerry Heil, and Spain’s Nebulossa, whose song “Zorra” sparked controversy because its title can be translated as an anti-female slur.

The performer with the most traction is Croatian vocalist Baby Lasagna. His song “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” is classic Eurovision: joyful, humorous, slightly emotional, and immensely catchy. It is already a major fan favorite.

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WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE PROTESTING?

Eurovision’s tagline is “united by music,” its organizer, the European Broadcasting Union, works to keep politics out of the competition. But it frequently intrudes.

Belarus was kicked out of Eurovision in 2021 for its government’s crackdown on opposition, while Russia was kicked out in 2022 for its full-fledged invasion of Ukraine.

This year, there have been requests for Israel’s exclusion due to its actions in the conflict against Hamas.

Israel is competing but was forced to change the title of its song, which was previously titled “October Rain,” in an apparent reference to Hamas’ October 7 cross-border raid. Eden Golan, a 20-year-old vocalist, now performs the song “Hurricane.”

Thousands of pro-Palestinian activists marched through Malmo hours before Golan performed in Thursday’s semifinal, and another is planned for Saturday. Swedish police have launched a large security operation, with officers from throughout the country joined by reinforcements from Denmark and Norway.

SOURCE – (AP)

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U.K News

AstraZeneca Removes Covid-19 Vaccine from the UK Market

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AstraZeneca Removes Covid-19 Vaccine from the UK Market
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been superseded by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna: Image AP

AstraZeneca is pulling its Covid-19 vaccine from the UK market less than four years after its debut, citing a “surplus” of vaccines targeting newer strains and declining demand.

On Wednesday, AstraZeneca stated that while it was “proud of the role Vaxzevria played in ending the global pandemic,” the company would no longer manufacture or supply the medicine due to a “surplus of available updated vaccines.”

The decision marks the end of the road for the vaccine, which was developed in partnership with experts at Oxford University within months of the pandemic’s breakout. It was authorized in the UK in late 2020, and over 3 billion doses have been distributed since its debut.

Unlike rivals Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna, AstraZeneca initially used a non-profit approach for its vaccine, selling it “at cost” as part of an agreement with Oxford. The medication was critical in ending the epidemic. However, its deployment was marred by rare cases of blood clotting and disagreements with the European Union over access to medicine.

“According to independent estimates, over 6.5 million lives were saved in the first year of use alone,” AstraZeneca stated, adding that additional COVID-19 vaccines have since been produced, reducing sales of its own medicine.

First Vaccine Approved in the UK

The announcement comes after the pharmaceutical company sought in March that the European Union withdraw its marketing authorization for Vaxzevria, which was granted on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been supplanted by mRNA-based vaccines produced by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, which are now the most widely used worldwide.

According to the company’s full-year figures, AstraZeneca’s jab generated only $12 million in sales in 2023, compared to nearly $4 billion in 2021. In late 2021, AstraZeneca signed its first for-profit arrangements, claiming the pandemic had entered an “endemic phase.”

The vaccine was approved in the United Kingdom in December 2020 and the European Union in January 2021, but it was never approved in the United States, where authorities criticized the company’s presentation of data on vaccination efficacy.

Overall, the vaccination was safe and effective, but confidence in it dipped in 2021 following a string of rare blood-clotting occurrences, prompting European authorities to restrict its use among younger people.

Jamie Scott is suing the firm, alleging that taking the vaccine caused him to develop a major blood clot. If held accountable, the UK government’s vaccine damage payment plan would compensate for any damages. The business stated that the removal was unrelated to the uncommon blood clotting incidences.

AstraZeneca stated: “We will now work with regulators and our partners to align on a clear path forward to conclude this chapter and significant contribution to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global pharmaceutical corporation based in Cambridge, England. It develops and manufactures various medications to treat various medical ailments. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the business earned headlines for its collaborative efforts to create a vaccine with Oxford University.

Vaxzevria COVID-19 vaccine was one of the first vaccines approved for emergency use worldwide. Despite initial issues with efficacy data and worries about potential adverse effects, the vaccination proved successful in preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. It was essential in vaccination campaigns throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

Their line of pharmaceuticals extends beyond the COVID-19 vaccine to include cancer, cardiology, respiratory, and metabolic illnesses. The corporation invests substantially in R&D, hoping to bring breakthrough therapies to market. It operates in over 100 countries and employs tens of thousands worldwide.

AstraZeneca has experienced numerous controversies and legal challenges, including litigation involving drug pricing and marketing activities. However, it remains a key player in the pharmaceutical sector, strongly emphasizing scientific research and global health programs. The company’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic has strengthened its position as a major contributor to global public health efforts.

Source: The Financial Times

 

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