Earthquakes at 2 Alaska Volcanoes Could Signal Eruption

In this photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey is the Tanaga Volcano near Adak, Alaska, on May 23, 2021. (Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey via AP)
In this photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey is the Tanaga Volcano near Adak, Alaska, on May 23, 2021. (Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey via AP)
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Earthquakes at 2 Alaska Volcanoes Could Signal Eruption

In this photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey is the Tanaga Volcano near Adak, Alaska, on May 23, 2021. (Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey via AP)
In this photo provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey is the Tanaga Volcano near Adak, Alaska, on May 23, 2021. (Alaska Volcano Observatory/US Geological Survey via AP)

A second volcano in remote Alaska is experiencing elevated earthquake activity this week, signaling an increased potential for eruption, officials said.

Earthquake activity near Takawangha Volcano increased over the past 48 hours and are continuing, Alaska Volcano Observatory officials said in a news release Thursday.

That volcano is west of Anchorage in the western Aleutian islands and about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Tanaga Volcano, which scientists said earlier this week had seen intensified earthquake activity.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the alert level to advisory status for Tanaga Volcano late Tuesday after the quakes became vigorous.

The observatory on Thursday raised the alert level to watch status for Takawangha Volcano.

Analysts at the observatory continue to monitor the situation closely. Up to several earthquakes per minute are occurring under Tanaga Island, where both volcanoes are located, the observatory said. The largest quake over the previous 24 hours was a magnitude 3.9 located under Tanaga Volcano.

No eruptive activity or signs of unrest was detected in satellite or other monitoring data.

The island is about 1,250 miles (2,012 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. There are no communities there, but Adak, a city of about 170 people on another island, is about 65 miles (105 kilometers) away and could see ashfall.

If one of the volcanoes were to erupt, it could be a problem for aircraft. The Aleutians are below the routes that jets fly between North America and Asia. Volcanic ash is angular and sharp and can cause airplane engines to shut down. Past eruptions had both ash clouds and viscous lava that moves slowly, much like what happened at Mount St. Helens in Washington state in 1980.

No historical eruptions are known from Takawangha but field work shows recent eruptions have occurred and its possible historic eruptions attributed to Tanaga may instead have come from Takawangha, according to scientists.

The last eruption from Tanaga Volcano was in 1914.



Culling Controversy as French Wolf Population Falls in 2023

There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP
There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP
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Culling Controversy as French Wolf Population Falls in 2023

There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP
There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP

The estimated number of wolves in France last year was 1,003, down nine percent from the year before, environmental associations said earlier this week, urging the French government to lower its quota for the number of the animals which can be killed each year.

The drop in the predator's population is the first in almost ten years, according to loupfrance.fr, a site managed by France’s biodiversity authority.

"This new estimate reinforces the finding that the species' conservation status is not good," the six conservation groups wrote.

The current quota allows for 19 percent of the French wolf population to be legally killed.

But an administrative source close to the matter —- who confirmed the 1,003 figure —- told AFP that current hunting limits would be maintained, allowing for "209 wolves" to be culled, AFP reported.

The percentage is "based on the estimated population at the end of the winter, which was 1,104," said the source, asking not to be named.

The number of wolf attacks is also on the rise, added the source.

For their part, agricultural groups argue culling nearly one-fifth of the predator's population is still too low to prevent what they say is a growing number of attacks on livestock.

Wolves had vanished from France but began returning in the 1990s, with farmers saying they suffered 12,000 attacks on their animals in 2022.

"For 2024, we're expecting to see an increase in the number of reports and victims," said a representative for France's sheep farmers group, Claude Font.

"If we hold at 19 percent of the estimated wolf population, we're not going to stop the number of sheep being killed," he said, calling for political action at the highest level to increase the percentage.

But for League of the Protection of Birds (LPO) president Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, "wolves are being sacrificed on the altar of agricultural demagoguery".

In addition to authorised hunting, "we're seeing an upsurge in poaching and poisoning", he told AFP.

The National Wolf Group (GNL) meeting, scheduled for Friday, will bring together environmentalists, elected officials, civil servants, the agricultural industry, and hunters.

But several environmental groups pulled out of the organisation in September 2023, deeming the government's 2024-2029 wolf plan "unacceptable".

The proposition calls for increased support for farmers dealing with livestock loss from wolf attacks, simplified population culling, and an overhaul of the current counting system, which is an estimate drawn up by France's biodiversity authority.

The wolf is categorised as "strictly protected" in the European Union, but France's new plan raises the possibility of reviewing the animal's status.

In September 2023, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned that "the concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans".

For conservation groups, however, the dip in the wolf population is a clear sign that efforts to protect the predator are falling short.

The government must "stop advocating downgrading the species’ level of protection".


Germany Warns from Dangers of 'Laughing Gas' Sales

The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)
The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)
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Germany Warns from Dangers of 'Laughing Gas' Sales

The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)
The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)

Germany's health minister, Karl Lauterbach, plans to introduce stricter rules to curb the sale of nitrous oxide, sometimes known as laughing gas, especially to young people.

The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people in Germany. The sale and consumption of nitrous oxide is not restricted under current law, dpa reported.

"We will come up with a regulation quickly," Lauterbach told public broadcaster ARD on Friday.

Among the possibilities is including nitrous oxide in the list of psychoactive substances, which come with very strict rules for sale and possession.

He said that a complete ban would not be possible because nitrous oxide is used for industrial purposes as well.

"We are now tackling this very quickly," assured the minister.

Until the government takes action, Lauterbach recommended that parents educate their children: "It may sound fun and harmless, but it's not," the minister warned.

Regular consumption could lead to accidents or even neurological damage, and permanent damage cannot be ruled out either, he said.

"It's very dangerous for children and young people," said Lauterbach.


More than 10,000 People Reach UK on Small Boats since January

FILE PHOTO: Two inflatable dinghies carrying migrants make their way towards England in the English Channel, Britain, May 4, 2024. REUTERS/Chris J. Ratcliffe/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Two inflatable dinghies carrying migrants make their way towards England in the English Channel, Britain, May 4, 2024. REUTERS/Chris J. Ratcliffe/File Photo
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More than 10,000 People Reach UK on Small Boats since January

FILE PHOTO: Two inflatable dinghies carrying migrants make their way towards England in the English Channel, Britain, May 4, 2024. REUTERS/Chris J. Ratcliffe/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Two inflatable dinghies carrying migrants make their way towards England in the English Channel, Britain, May 4, 2024. REUTERS/Chris J. Ratcliffe/File Photo

More than 10,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Britain in small boats so far this year, updated government data showed on Saturday, underlining a key challenge facing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ahead of a July 4 national election.

The number of people landing on England's southern beaches after making the dangerous Channel crossing fell by a third in 2023, but the latest numbers on a government website showed 10,170 arrived between January and May 25, up from 7,395 over the same period last year.

Sunak, who announced the election date on Wednesday, said later this week that asylum seekers who come to Britain illegally would not be deported to Rwanda before the vote - casting doubt on one of his Conservative Party's flagship policies, Reuters reported.

The plan has been bogged down by legal obstacles for more than two years, and the opposition Labor Party, which is about 20 points ahead in opinion polls and seen on track to end 14 years of Conservative rule, has promised to scrap the policy if it wins the election.

Labor's shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said Sunak's government had not done enough to tackle the issue.

"Because all the government's efforts are now focused on getting a few hundred people flown to Rwanda, they have lost sight of the thousands more who are crossing the Channel every month," Kinnock said in a statement.

Labor has said if elected it would create a Border Security Command that would bring together staff from the police, the domestic intelligence agency and prosecutors to work with international agencies to stop people smuggling.

 

 

 

 

 


What to Look for in Mosquito Repellents

Mosquito season is starting to rev up across much of the United States ( AFP File Photo)
Mosquito season is starting to rev up across much of the United States ( AFP File Photo)
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What to Look for in Mosquito Repellents

Mosquito season is starting to rev up across much of the United States ( AFP File Photo)
Mosquito season is starting to rev up across much of the United States ( AFP File Photo)

There's an old joke that mosquitoes are like family: They are annoying, but they carry your blood.

Mosquito season is starting to rev up and that means bug bites.

When a mosquito bites you, it pierces the skin using a mouthpart called a proboscis to suck up blood. As it feeds, it injects saliva into your skin that can cause a reaction — a bump and itching. But the pests can also spread parasites like malaria and viruses like dengue, West Nile and Zika.

So you might want to pause summer vacation planning and consider what to look for in repellents, which keep bugs away from you, and insecticides, which kill them.

WHAT MOSQUITO REPELLENTS WORK BEST? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that for protection that lasts hours, people should look for ones with these active ingredients: DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Those ingredients are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency, The AP reported.

A note about oil of lemon eucalyptus: Lemon eucalyptus essential oil has a similar name, but the agency does not recommend it because it hasn't been tested for safety and is not registered with EPA as an insect repellent.

Likewise, the CDC doesn't endorse other “natural” products that haven't been evaluated.

WHAT OTHER STEPS CAN YOU TAKE TO AVOID MOSQUITO BITES? Repellents are one line of defense against bugs, but there are others: Wear long sleeves and long pants. Avoid going out at dusk and dawn, when some types of mosquito tend to be most active.

Silvie Huijben, an evolutionary biologist at Arizona State University, helped develop an online game to help children understand how to protect against mosquitoes, which emphasizes another prevention strategy:

“Mosquitoes need water to breed in,” so it's important to make sure to get rid of standing water — including buckets of water or kiddie pools left undisturbed in the yard for a week or more, she said. “Make sure you're not the one contributing the local mosquito problem, that you're not breeding mosquitoes on your property.”

You can also treat clothes and outdoor gear with a pesticide called permethrin to ward off mosquitoes and other unwelcome pests.

HOW INSECTICIDES ARE TESTED The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention operates a mosquito lab in Fort Collins, Colorado, where it evaluates insecticides, but not repellents.

To test these kinds of products, the researchers coat the inside of a bottle with a given dose of an insecticide ingredient, then put mosquitoes in the bottle — usually about 25. They see what percentage of the bugs die within two hours and compare that with a nearby uncoated bottle containing the same number of mosquitoes.

The test is widely used in the US and also is increasingly used around the world. It is considered simpler and less expensive than some more complicated alternatives, including a test in which insecticide drops are applied directly to mosquitoes.

Scientists typically repeat the experiments each season to document changes in how the mosquitoes respond to insecticides, CDC officials say.

Huijben said repeating the test is important because it has limitations: Results can be thrown off by factors such as whether each bottle was coated with exactly the same amount of chemical.

“I think we’re seeing a lot of noise in the data” which may lead to false initial conclusions, said Huijben, who has compared resistance testing approaches.

ARE MOSQUITOES BECOMING RESISTANT TO SOME CHEMICALS? Just like bacteria can gradually develop the ability to shrug off antibiotics, bugs can develop resistance to some of the chemicals developed to kill and repel them.

Permethrin belongs to a class of insecticides called pyrethroids, which have shown this kind of resistance.

Pyrethroids grew popular in the 1990s as replacements to older pesticides and are commonly used to control adult bugs. Community mosquito-control programs and farmers use the chemicals, but homeowners can also find them on hardware store shelves.

In lab experiments, resistance varies by product and dose, but in some tests ”none of them (mosquitoes) will die,” said Roxanne Connelly, a CDC insect scientist.

CDC officials are working with state and local officials to do more real-world field testing, including experiments in which mosquitoes placed in cages outdoors are checked after an insecticide fogging truck passes by.


At Least 12 Children Injured after Strong Wind in Russia’s Krasnodar Blew off School's Roof

The Russian flag waves in the wind - US, September 2, 2017. (File/Reuters)
The Russian flag waves in the wind - US, September 2, 2017. (File/Reuters)
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At Least 12 Children Injured after Strong Wind in Russia’s Krasnodar Blew off School's Roof

The Russian flag waves in the wind - US, September 2, 2017. (File/Reuters)
The Russian flag waves in the wind - US, September 2, 2017. (File/Reuters)

Strong wind blew off the roof of a school in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region on Saturday morning, injuring at least 12 children, local officials said.

A warning was issued across the region on Friday for hurricane-force winds, Russian state news agency Ria Novosti said.

The regional prosecutor’s office in Krasnodar said in a statement that “a strong gust of wind” tore off the roof, causing the children to “suffer shrapnel wounds of varying severity.”

It added that an investigation under the article of “provision of services that do not meet safety requirements” has been ordered.


Wegovy Users Have Less Kidney-related Health Problems, Analysis of Novo Study Finds

Boxes of Wegovy made by Novo Nordisk are seen at a pharmacy in London, Britain March 8, 2024. REUTERS/Hollie Adams/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Boxes of Wegovy made by Novo Nordisk are seen at a pharmacy in London, Britain March 8, 2024. REUTERS/Hollie Adams/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Wegovy Users Have Less Kidney-related Health Problems, Analysis of Novo Study Finds

Boxes of Wegovy made by Novo Nordisk are seen at a pharmacy in London, Britain March 8, 2024. REUTERS/Hollie Adams/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Boxes of Wegovy made by Novo Nordisk are seen at a pharmacy in London, Britain March 8, 2024. REUTERS/Hollie Adams/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

Novo Nordisk's Wegovy obesity drug reduced adverse kidney-related events by 22% in overweight and obese people in a large study, according to a new analysis the Danish drugmaker published on Saturday.

The analysis, from a large study for which substantial results had been released by Novo last year, was presented at the European Renal Congress in Stockholm.

"By addressing key markers of kidney health, semaglutide...may contribute to a significant reduction in the risk of kidney-related complications, including chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease," said Professor Helen M. Colhoun of the University of Edinburgh and lead study author.

A Novo spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters that the new analysis "demonstrates for the first time the benefits of semaglutide 2.4 mg in improving kidney function in people with cardiovascular disease and overweight or obesity, without diabetes, a high-risk population with increased need for kidney protection."

The study follows the publication in March of a Novo study showing its diabetes drug Ozempic delayed progression of chronic kidney disease in diabetes patients. Ozempic contains the same active ingredient, semaglutide, as Wegovy, which is approved as an obesity treatment.

The latest data adds to growing body of medical evidence that drugs from the GLP-1 class, which suppress appetite by mimicking gut hormones, have medical benefits for conditions beyond type 2 diabetes and weight loss, their initial purposes.

In the new analysis, semaglutide led to a slower decline in a certain measure of kidney function known as eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate), particularly in individuals with a pre-existing kidney impairment.

There was also a significant reduction in the urinary albumin-to-creatine ratio (UACR), another important marker of kidney health, the analysis found.

Regardless of kidney function at the start of the study, "no increased risk of acute kidney injury was associated with semaglutide", it found.

The analysis examined data from a large trial by Novo Nordisk called Select. Initial results from that were published in August.

The 17,604-patient trial tested Wegovy not for weight loss or kidney function but for its heart protective benefits for overweight and obese patients who had preexisting heart disease but not diabetes.

The analysis published on Saturday comes a day after Novo presented detailed results of a separate late-stage trial showing its diabetes drug Ozempic slowed the worsening of kidney dysfunction in patients with type 2 diabetes and lowered the risk of kidney failure, heart problems, stroke and death.


Thai Town Maddened by Marauding Monkeys Launches Plan to Lock Them up and Send Them Away 

A worker chases monkeys away from a customer in front of an auto-part shop in Lopburi Province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP)
A worker chases monkeys away from a customer in front of an auto-part shop in Lopburi Province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP)
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Thai Town Maddened by Marauding Monkeys Launches Plan to Lock Them up and Send Them Away 

A worker chases monkeys away from a customer in front of an auto-part shop in Lopburi Province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP)
A worker chases monkeys away from a customer in front of an auto-part shop in Lopburi Province, north of Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP)

A Thai town, run ragged by its ever-growing population of marauding wild monkeys, launched an offensive against the simian raiders on Friday, using trickery and ripe tropical fruit.

Several high-profile cases of monkey-human conflict recently convinced authorities in Lopburi in central Thailand that they had to reduce the animals' numbers.

If all goes well, most will end up behind bars, before starting a new life elsewhere.

The first stage of the plan, instituted Friday, is to bait cages with the animals’ favorite food, then wait for hunger to get the better of their natural caution.

There was early success for the catchers on one street, with three of the macaques falling for the ruse and ending up trapped because they had fancied a taste of rambutan fruit. The cages had been placed on the street earlier in the week so the monkeys got used to them and found them less threatening.

There are thought to be around 2,500 monkeys running around the town. The capture of the unlucky trio and around 30 others - trapped in other parts of the town - slightly pared down that total.

The effort will go on for five days this month, then is likely to be repeated. Some of the monkeys will be left free to maintain Lopburi’s image as Thailand’s monkey town.

But no one is expecting it to be easy.

“With the monkey’s intelligence, if some of them go into the cage and are caught, the others outside won’t enter the cage to get the food because they’ve already learnt what’s happened to their friends,” said Patarapol Maneeorn from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The roaming monkeys have long been a symbol of the town, 140 kilometers (90 miles) north of Bangkok, and are a major tourist draw. They've become increasingly aggressive, however, with several videos of them snatching food from residents and causing injuries being widely shared online.

One auto parts shop now trades from behind wire. The owners erected it at the time of the coronavirus pandemic, but keeping out the light-fingered primates was also a prime concern. They say they’ve adapted to the monkey problem, but not everyone has.

“When there are a lot of monkeys around, customers are afraid of buying the goods at the shop. Only our regulars aren’t frightened,” said Supaporn Tantiwong.

The town’s mayor, Chamroen Salacheep, agrees that the monkeys, while bringing in visitors, have also become bad for trade, with shops and malls seeing a drop in income and even people’s homes damaged. Lopburi, he said, is almost an “abandoned town.”

“After our operation is over,” Chamroen said, “I will do a big cleaning across the town and paint all the buildings to regain the faith of the people.”

These may seem like grim times for monkeys in Lopburi, but there is a plan to give them a fresh start.

On Friday authorities began sedating them to carry out health checks before cleaning and sterilizing them and inking them with tattoos so they can be identified to keep accurate records.

After that they’ll transfer them to a series of huge holding pens, just outside the town center, while looking for a permanent home.


Asharq Network Wins Telly Company of the Year for 2024

Asharq Network won 117 awards, including 12 gold, 49 silver, and 56 bronze, at the prestigious Telly Awards. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Asharq Network won 117 awards, including 12 gold, 49 silver, and 56 bronze, at the prestigious Telly Awards. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Asharq Network Wins Telly Company of the Year for 2024

Asharq Network won 117 awards, including 12 gold, 49 silver, and 56 bronze, at the prestigious Telly Awards. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Asharq Network won 117 awards, including 12 gold, 49 silver, and 56 bronze, at the prestigious Telly Awards. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Asharq Network has won 117 awards, including 12 gold, 49 silver, and 56 bronze, at the prestigious Telly Awards. The network was also named Telly Company of the Year.

The Telly Awards was established in 1979 in the United States to celebrate excellence across a wide range of categories, from traditional cable television commercials to cutting-edge digital content. Major international brands and companies such as CNN, Fox News, HBO, and Time Warner, also actively participate in these prestigious awards.

This achievement comes in conjunction with the expansion witnessed by Asharq Network, with its various platforms, channels, new programs, and its distinguished and modern coverage of the most important events and developments.

Since its first launch in 2020, the network has been able to establish a solid and professional position through its audio and visual platforms to meet the aspirations and trends of its audiences. The process of expansion and content development included the launch of Asharq QuickTake, Asharq Podcasts, Asharq Documentary, Radio Asharq with Bloomberg, and Asharq Discovery in partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery. This expansion has further solidified the network’s position as the fastest-growing news platform on social media.

Asharq Network has competed against a record-breaking 13,000 entries from five continents.

In addition to being named the Telly Company of the Year, the network’s brands won several other prominent awards. Asharq Business with Bloomberg received a Gold, a Silver and three Bronze Awards in the Video Journalism category for the Asharq Business with Bloomberg Tech+ show. The Asharq News Conflict in Darfur Story won three Silver Awards in the Explainers category, and its coverage of COP28 earned two Silver Awards in the Show Opening Segment category.

Nabeel Alkhatib, General Manager of Asharq News, commented: “Being named the ‘Telly Company of the Year’ is a testament to the dedication and creativity of the entire Asharq Network team. This achievement reaffirms our commitment to delivering in-depth analysis and insightful perspectives on the stories, people and events shaping the world today. Our mission is to set a new industry standard by providing content that truly resonates with our diverse audience.”


King Charles III Won’t Be out and About Much Over the Next Six Weeks Amid Election Campaign 

Britain's King Charles III meets members of the public during his visit the Discovery Center and Auld School Close to hear more about the 3.3million pound (4.1 million US dollars) energy efficient housing project in the area, in Tomintoul, Scotland, on Sept. 13, 2023. (AP)
Britain's King Charles III meets members of the public during his visit the Discovery Center and Auld School Close to hear more about the 3.3million pound (4.1 million US dollars) energy efficient housing project in the area, in Tomintoul, Scotland, on Sept. 13, 2023. (AP)
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King Charles III Won’t Be out and About Much Over the Next Six Weeks Amid Election Campaign 

Britain's King Charles III meets members of the public during his visit the Discovery Center and Auld School Close to hear more about the 3.3million pound (4.1 million US dollars) energy efficient housing project in the area, in Tomintoul, Scotland, on Sept. 13, 2023. (AP)
Britain's King Charles III meets members of the public during his visit the Discovery Center and Auld School Close to hear more about the 3.3million pound (4.1 million US dollars) energy efficient housing project in the area, in Tomintoul, Scotland, on Sept. 13, 2023. (AP)

King Charles III won’t be out and about much over the next six weeks — and it’s not because of his ongoing cancer treatments.

Shortly after UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called an early parliamentary election for July 4, Buckingham Palace said that all members of the royal family were canceling most public engagements until after the vote to avoid doing anything that might divert attention from the campaign.

That announcement is just one of the ways that Charles will seek to play his part as a unifying head of state during the election, without violating a constitutional ban on interfering in politics. While the king’s role in government is largely ceremonial, it's bound up by traditions that embody the way royal powers were gradually transferred to Parliament over the last 800 years.

Here’s a look at the monarch’s role in the run up to the election, including a few dos and don’ts.

DID CHARLES PLAY ANY ROLE IN CALLING THE ELECTION? The decision to call an election was entirely Sunak’s. But before he could do so, the king had to grant permission to dissolve Parliament early.

Technically, the king still has the power to refuse a dissolution request if he believes an election would be detrimental to the nation. But the last time this happened was in 1835.

Ignoring that precedent “would expose the monarch to allegations of political interference of an undemocratic nature, even if the intention of the refusal was to preserve the good functioning of democracy,” according to the Institute for Government, an independent think tank.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE KING? The current session of Parliament will be “prorogued,” or ended, on Friday based on an order that Charles approved during a meeting of the Privy Council on Thursday at Buckingham Palace.

The king won’t attend the formal end of the session, a ceremonial affair where the speaker of the House of Commons and other members of Parliament will troop into the House of Lords to hear a speech written by the government.

WHAT ABOUT THOSE PUBLIC APPEARANCES? The royal family is barred by law and tradition from interfering in politics at any time, but ensuring that those rules are strictly followed is even more important during an election.

That means the royals can’t campaign for candidates, endorse policies, or even let their political preferences be known.

Buckingham Palace spelled it out soon after Sunak's announcement, announcing that members of the royal family would postpone all engagements that “may appear to divert attention or distract from the election campaign.’’

That meant the king on Friday ditched trips to a Bentley car factory and a community center helping people who are struggling financially.

WHAT’S A MONARCH TO DO? Well, some things are above reproach.

The king and queen still plan to attend ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.

Other engagements will be examined on a case-by-case basis, the palace said.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? One of the modern monarchy’s primary roles is to provide a unifying figurehead who is seen as above politics and can provide a sense of stability in difficult times.

This is the first general election of Charles’ reign. His mother, Queen Elizabeth II, oversaw 21 during her 70 years on the throne.

George Gross, a royal expert at King’s College London, said elections are by definition moments of turbulence in which people look to the monarchy for continuity.

“There is ... a power vacuum in political terms. Power is now handed back to the British people, and they will review the offering over the next six weeks,” Gross said. “So what that means, though, is that the head of state has a new role. Or rather, (the) key role of stability and continuity comes to the fore. Now, (the royals) cannot be political in any way.”


Soaring Towers Shape Hong Kong's Urban Landscape

Hong Kong has more than 550 buildings that are at least 150 meters (492 feet) tall. Dale DE LA REY / AFP
Hong Kong has more than 550 buildings that are at least 150 meters (492 feet) tall. Dale DE LA REY / AFP
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Soaring Towers Shape Hong Kong's Urban Landscape

Hong Kong has more than 550 buildings that are at least 150 meters (492 feet) tall. Dale DE LA REY / AFP
Hong Kong has more than 550 buildings that are at least 150 meters (492 feet) tall. Dale DE LA REY / AFP

Home to some of the world's densest living districts and tallest skyscrapers, Hong Kong has for decades mesmerized locals and visitors alike with its famed skyline.
The Chinese finance hub has more than 550 buildings that are at least 150 meters (492 feet) tall and is the "number one tallest city" in the world, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat skyscraper database, said AFP.
Hong Kong saw a construction boom in the latter half of the 20th century as its population skyrocketed, and development kept pace after the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.
The city's two tallest buildings, the International Commerce Centre (484 meters) and the Two International Financial Centre (412 meters), stand gleaming on opposing sides of the Victoria Harbour and cast shadows on the rushing traffic below.
Meanwhile, many of the city's 7.5 million residents live in cramped flats, with households having a median per capita floor area of around 16 square meters in 2021.
A cluster of residential blocks nicknamed "Monster Building" in Quarry Bay was catapulted to international fame after it was featured in the 2014 blockbuster "Transformers: Age of Extinction".
Older public housing complexes, such as Ping Shek Estate and Lai Tak Tsuen, have well-like central courtyards whose dramatic visual signature has made them popular with photographers.
Constrained by natural geography and a restrictive land policy, Hong Kong's urban development in decades to come has nowhere to go but up, scholars say.