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A balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace, a concert featuring global stars and a day of volunteering will all form part of celebrations for King Charles III’s coronation.

The palace has revealed new details on plans for events that will take place over the coronation weekend from Saturday, May 6 to Monday, May 8.

The coronation of the king and queen consort will take place at Westminster Abbey on a Saturday morning, conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

According to the palace, it will be “a solemn religious service, as well as an occasion for celebration and pageantry.”

The service will “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.”

Charles and Camilla will arrive at the abbey in procession from Buckingham Palace, known as “the king’s procession,” and after the service, they will return to the palace in a larger ceremonial procession, known as “the coronation procession,” joined by other members of the royal family.

At the palace, Charles and Camilla will be joined by family members on the balcony to conclude the day’s ceremonial events.

The palace has not said exactly which family members will appear in the coronation procession or on the balcony.

Sunday will see “global music icons and contemporary stars” descend on Windsor Castle for the coronation concert which will be broadcast live on the BBC.

Several thousand members of the public will be selected to receive a pair of free tickets through a national ballot held by the BBC.

The audience will also include volunteers from the king and queen consort’s charity affiliations.

The show will feature a world-class orchestra playing interpretations of musical favourites fronted by “some of the world’s biggest entertainers, alongside performers from the world of dance,” the palace said.

The performances will be supported by staging and effects located on the castle’s east lawn and will also include a selection of spoken word sequences delivered by stars of stage and screen.

The Coronation Choir, a diverse group that will be created from the nation’s keenest community choirs and amateur singers from across the UK, such as refugee choirs, NHS choirs, LGBTQ+ singing groups and deaf signing choirs, will also make an appearance.

A new documentary exploring the formation of The Coronation Choir will tell the stories of the people representing the many faces and voices of the country.

The Coronation Choir will appear alongside The Virtual Choir, made up of singers from across the Commonwealth, for a special performance on the night.

The palace said the centrepiece of the coronation concert, dubbed “lighting up the nation,” will see the country join together in celebration as landmarks across the UK are lit up using projections, lasers, drone displays and illuminations.

Meanwhile, people are invited to gather for a “coronation big lunch” on Sunday, overseen and organised by the Big Lunch team at the Eden Project.

The queen consort has been a patron of the Big Lunch since 2013.

The palace said thousands of events are expected to take place in streets, gardens and parks on every corner of the UK.

Monday, a bank holiday, has been set aside for volunteering and is being billed as “the big help out.”

Organised by The Together Coalition and a wide range of partners such as The Scouts, the Royal Voluntary Service and faith groups from across the UK, the big help out aims to highlight the positive impact volunteering has on communities.

The palace said in tribute to the king’s public service, the big help out “will encourage people to try volunteering for themselves and join the work being undertaken to support their local areas.”

The aim of the day is to use volunteering to bring communities together and create a lasting volunteering legacy from the coronation weekend.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said tens of thousands of people are expected to visit London to experience the coronation.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said the coronation is “a huge milestone in the history of the UK and Commonwealth,” adding that the weekend of events will bring people together to celebrate “the mixture of tradition and modernity, culture and community that makes our country great.”

Arrangements for the coronation, like those for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in September, will be diplomatically sensitive, given the likely presence of leaders from scores of different countries.

It could also pose difficulties for the royal family following the release of Prince Harry’s controversial memoir, with a question mark over whether Harry and his wife Meghan will be among those attending.

During an interview with Tom Bradby on ITV, Harry was asked if he will come to the coronation if he is invited, and he said: “There’s a lot that can happen between now and then.

“But, you know, the door is always open.

“The – the ball is in their court.

“There’s a lot to be discussed and I really hope that they can – that they are willing to sit down and talk about it because there’s a lot that’s happened in six years.

“And prior to that as well.”

Meanwhile, the scale of the event could be even larger than the queen’s funeral in September, partly because overseas leaders will have more time to plan their travel.

The funeral saw leaders from most countries receive an invitation.

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European Union migration ministers met on Thursday to discuss visa restrictions and better coordination inside the bloc.

The meeting focused on ways to be able to send more people with no right to asylum in Europe back to their home countries including Iraq.

Three years after the 27-nation EU agreed to restrict visas for countries deemed failing to cooperate on taking their people back, only Gambia had been formally punished.

The EU’s executive European Commission proposed similar steps vis-a-vis Iraq, Senegal and Bangladesh, though two EU officials said cooperation with Dhaka on returning people has since improved.

Still, the EU’s overall rate of effective returns stood at 21 per cent in 2021, according to Eurostat data, the latest available.

One of the EU officials said “that is a level that member states consider unacceptably low.

“Immigration is a highly politically sensitive topic in the bloc where member countries would much rather discuss stepping up returns, as well as reducing irregular immigration in the first place.

“It will be better than to revive their bitter feuds over how to share out the task of caring for those who make it to Europe and win the right to stay.’’

The commission said in a discussion paper for the ministers, which was seen by Reuters that “establishing an effective and common EU system for returns is a central pillar of well-functioning and credible migration and asylum systems.’’

Some 160,000 people made it across the Mediterranean in 2022, according to U.N. data, the main route to Europe for people fleeing wars and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

On top of that, nearly 8 million Ukrainian refugees were also registered across Europe.

The ministers meet two weeks before the 27 EU national leaders gather in Brussels to discuss migration, and are also expected to call to send more people away.

“Swift action is needed to ensure effective returns from the European Union to countries of origin using as leverage all relevant EU policies,” read a draft of their joint statement, which was also seen by Reuters.

Inside the EU, however, there is insufficient resources and coordination between different parts of government to ensure each a person with no right to stay is effectively returned or deported, according to the Commission.

“Insufficient cooperation of countries of origin is an additional challenge,” it added, naming problems including recognising and issuing identity and travel documents.

However, pressure from migration chiefs to punish some third countries with visa restrictions has in the past run against the EU’s own foreign and development ministers, or failed due to conflicting agendas of various EU countries.

There had therefore, not been enough majority among EU countries so far to punish another country apart from Gambia, where people can no longer get multiple entry visas to the bloc and face a longer wait.

While EU countries including Austria and Hungary loudly protest against the mainly-Muslim, irregular immigration from the Middle East and North Africa, Germany is among those seeking to open up their job market to much-needed workers from outside the bloc. 

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Arya Rams has been able to sleep and wake up without a tight ball of anxiety in her chest for the first time in years.

She is currently sheltered in a house in the Rift Valley of Kenya thanks to the efforts of the Dutch NGO Trans Rescue.

As a trans person in Kenya, you put yourself in harm’s way. Arya claimed she was being pursued by people armed with machetes a few months later. According to her, her companion was killed by a mob in 2021 on a beach close to the city of Malindi.

The 27-year-old Arya emphasised the significance of the safe house in light of the recent retaliation against Kenya’s lesbian, gay, and transgender community following the death of LGBTQ rights campaigner Edwin Chiloba.

Last Monday, Chiloba’s body was discovered in a metal box along the side of the road outside Eldoret. The pathologist determined the death was due to asphyxia from having socks jammed into his throat.

“People were going through other gay people’s social media saying, ‘Have you seen Chiloba? You are next,’” said Arya.

This week, police identified Chiloba’s alleged partner as the prime suspect in his murder. Reuters’ attempts to contact him for comment have been unsuccessful.

Commentary on the case from the general public has been essentially harmful and even dangerous.

“Let us not waste time discussing LGBTQ … it’s illegal …  Jail them,” Mohammed Ali, a legislator, tweeted about this on Tuesday.

The commission of homosexual acts is punishable by a sentence of 14 years in jail under colonial-era legislation that is rarely implemented. There is no legal penalty for coming out as gay or transgender.

Campaign groups like Amnesty International and others reported last week that SGBV and domestic violence were rising in Kenya.

They criticised the “uncoordinated and frequently reluctant response to SGBV by State and non-state actors” and urged authorities to do more to investigate crimes and support survivors.

According to Arya, the situation would drastically improve if the appeal were successful.

“I’m just saying that if someone … from the LGBTQ community could be in a situation whereby they don’t fear to walk into a police station and record a statement … then probably we could have reduced a lot of (problems).”

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The Ohio moderate explains why he left his safe Senate seat and weighs in on 2024.

When Rob Portman announced he was retiring from the Senate two years ago, it was taken as another sign that Congress was going to the dogs.

Portman, an Ohio Republican, knew how Washington worked — or should be working — to address national challenges, and was increasingly exasperated that it wasn’t doing so.

Two years later, there is a hint of ruefulness in Portman’s description of that time, in which he acknowledged that he was surprised by the productivity of Congress during his final months.

“I was feeling the urge to be home more, and I was getting more frustrated with the inability to get things done,” Portman said of his decision to leave in an interview with Yahoo News. “Now, having said that, we did get a lot done in the last few years. I’ve acknowledged that. But when I made my decision … it was less likely that those things would’ve happened.”

Indeed, in 2021 Portman was a part of bipartisan negotiations over a huge infrastructure bill that poured more than $1 trillion into roads, ports and the American energy grid.

And then in 2022, he was again in the middle of a group of Republican and Democratic senators who worked together on changes to the Electoral Count Act, which made it more difficult to overturn election results. He also worked to pass a law recognizing same-sex marriages, which included provisions to address religious liberty concerns from conservatives.

Portman also worked with Democrats last year to provide $52 billion for the domestic semiconductor industry, an essential step in keeping the U.S. competitive with China.

And he worked with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on more changes to help Americans invest bigger sums in their retirement accounts.

The infrastructure bill — criticized by some Republicans as largely wasteful spending — was “not really conservative or liberal,” Portman said. “It’s just common sense.

“We’re at a point in our political life where we’ve got to figure out how to get back to the middle. And I don’t mean that even ideologically,” he said. “I mean, just to get things done. And social media pushes us to the extremes, because people are increasingly going down rabbit holes on the right or the left.

“I think there needs to be a reawakening among the great middle [of voters],” Portman said. He said he is close to announcing arrangements with a think tank in D.C. and a college in Ohio to continue working on political and public policy projects.

Portman was not as optimistic as others on the right about the recent fracas that erupted during House leadership elections. He said he was concerned that the House Republicans who opposed eventual Speaker Kevin McCarthy for several days learned the lesson that they could be rewarded in the future by refusing to compromise.

“I think it’s fine for the Freedom Caucus to use leverage towards policy means,” Portman said of the right-wing group of House Republicans that extracted numerous concessions from McCarthy in the leadership fight. “But it’s not fine to hold up the process if you don’t get exactly what you want. That’s not how it works. You’ve got to find common ground.

“To the extent it rewards individuals more — not to find that way forward but to be an outlier — it makes the tough work of democracy harder,” he said.

Portman is an old-school Republican, having been White House trade representative and budget chief in the George W. Bush administration. But he never really distanced himself from Donald Trump in the way some might have expected. He voted against impeaching the then president in 2020 and again in 2021, after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Portman’s second vote against impeachment came a few weeks after he had announced his retirement. This past November, Ohio voters elected Republican J.D. Vance — a staunch Trump ally — to replace Portman in the Senate.

But Portman said he does not think Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

“I don’t think he’ll end up running. I think he said he is running because he wants to test the waters and I’m sure he likes the attention,” Portman said. “But I think he will find that it’s not in his interest to run at the end.”

Portman noted that Trump has been falling behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in some public polling. Even if DeSantis lost steam, Portman does not think that would benefit Trump. “And it’ll be somebody else probably after DeSantis,” he said.

“I supported Donald Trump’s policies for the most part, strongly,” Portman said, mentioning the 2017 tax reform bill and the Trump administration’s development and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Then-President Donald Trump stands at a podium. Behind him are then-Vice President Mike Pence and a number of Congress members.
Then-President Donald Trump at an event on the South Lawn of the White House on Dec. 20, 2017, to acknowledge the final passage of tax cut legislation by Congress. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

“But by far, the majority of Republicans, when asked should he run again, the numbers are far lower,” he said. “And I know he’s looking at [polling data]. So I think at the end of the day, he is unlikely to run.”

One of Portman’s final negotiations came over the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that strengthened legal protections for same-sex couples. It also contained provisions to bolster religious liberty for conservatives.

Portman led the negotiations on the bill. It was the latest step in an evolution on this issue that began for him in 2011 when his son told his father Will he was gay. In 2013, Portman announced he had changed his position on gay marriage, from opposition to support. He was the first Republican senator to do so.

“I’ve reflected on it a lot,” Portman said. “It’s been a journey for me.”

Portman was a House member in the 1990s and voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which stated that marriage was between a man and a woman, discriminated against same-sex couples and was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. DOMA was repealed by the Respect for Marriage Act that Portman helped pass.

“Having been through this in our own family, this is who people are,” Portman said. “And you have to respect people for who they are.

“And I know that others were not on board and very much against it. And I heard from them, and I still do hear from them. But I think they’re fighting a battle that is in the past,” he said. “And to look to the future, I think it is a matter of protecting religious liberty in the context of allowing people to be who they are.”

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