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UK PM Rishi Sunak fined for not wearing a seatbelt

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was fined by police on Friday for failing to wear a seatbelt, dealing the Conservative leader a potentially embarrassing blow as he attempts to reverse his party’s misfortunes.

Sunak had uploaded a video on social media platform Instagram on Thursday, which showed the premier sitting in the back seat of a car while travelling through north-west England.
Users subsequently noticed the PM had not buckled up, and widely shared the clip online, catching law enforcement’s attention.

Sunak’s spokesperson eventually apologised for the «brief error of judgment», but the die had already been cast: local police investigated and ultimately issued the premier with a fine.
Releasing a statement on Twitter, Lancashire police announced the news without directly naming Sunak.

«Following the circulation of a video on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seat belt while a passenger in a moving car… [we] have issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty,» the tweet read.

In England, a person can be fined up to £620 (€708) for failing to wear a seatbelt, bar certain exceptions such as for emergency services, in a taxi or when a driver is reversing.

The faux pas risks turning into another setback for Sunak, who has been tasked with restoring the Conservatives’ credibility after his predecessor, Liz Truss, survived only 44 days in office. A flurry of recent scandals have also severely dampened the party’s electoral prospects — which now trails over 20 points behind Labour in opinion polls.

Sunak had previously been fined while serving as finance minister for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules in 2020, leading to a major political storm over clandestine Downing Street gatherings — dubbed «Partygate» — that contributed to former PM Boris Johnson’s downfall and resignation last July.

In a statement released by his office in response to his infraction on the road, Sunak took accountability for his actions.

«The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty,» his spokesperson said.
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Japan just found 7,000 islands it didn’t know it had

Japan has recounted its islands – and discovered it has 7,000 more than it previously thought.

Digital mapping by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) recently found there to be 14,125 islands in Japanese territory, more than double the figure of 6,852 that has been in official use since a 1987 report by Japan’s Coast Guard.

However, the GSI this week stressed that the new figure reflected advances in surveying technology and the detail of the maps used for the count – it did not change the overall area of land in Japan’s possession.

It said that while there is no international agreement on how to count islands, it had used the same size criterion as the previous survey 35 years ago.

That entailed counting all naturally occurring land areas with a circumference of at least 100 meters (330 feet).

The new number does not include any artificially reclaimed land.

The islands surrounding Japan have been at the heart of several territorial disputes.

Japan lays claim to the Russian-held southern Kuril islands, which Tokyo calls the Northern Territories, a dispute that dates to the end of World War II, when Soviet troops seized them from Japan.

Japan also says it has a historical claim to the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which it currently administers, but China has repeatedly challenged that claim.

Meanwhile, Japan and South Korea remain locked in a more than 70-year dispute over the sovereignty of a group of islets known as Dokdo by Seoul and Takeshima by Tokyo in the Sea of Japan, which Korea calls the East Sea.

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Yosemite National Park to partially reopen after 3-week closure

Yosemite National Park will begin to reopen Saturday with limited access and hours, the US National Park Service has announced. The park remains closed today.

The popular park, nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, was closed because of a series of damaging storms that have swept across the region in recent weeks.

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Charles and Camilla

Britain’s King Charles III and his wife, Queen Camilla, have been married since 2005. They reportedly met at a polo match in 1970 and became friends when Charles was a prince.

When Charles joined the Royal Navy in 1971, Camilla married cavalry officer Andrew Parker Bowles.

Charles married Diana Spencer in 1981 but then admitted in 1994 that he had been having an extramarital affair with Camilla. Diana confirmed his infidelity and her own the following year.

Camilla got a divorce in 1995, and Charles and Diana divorced in 1996. Camilla all but vanished from public life at the time as public and media support swung behind Diana.

In 1999, Clarence House embarked on a program to reintroduce Camilla to the public with a carefully orchestrated first appearance with Charles outside the Ritz Hotel in London.

Six years later, their decades-long love story culminated in a wedding that had the consent of Charles’ mother, Queen Elizabeth II. Camilla was confirmed as Charles’ official consort and future queen.

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