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Face to face multi-lateral diplomacy is back. The band is getting back together, but the world has changed since the G7 last met.

Our species and our planet face grave threats and the West’s autocratic rivals have prospered and grown more powerful.

There is a huge amount at stake for those who want the world led by open, democratic, free societies.

COVID vaccines


Coronavirus is the biggest challenge for the G7‘s first face-to-face summit since the pandemic broke out. Until the entire world is vaccinated, we all remain at risk of a new variant sending us back to square one.

Former British ambassador to the US who knows Joe Biden well, Sir Peter Westmacott, told Sky News the president and his allies know this is their number one priority.

“This virus is going to contaminate international business, travel, holiday making, unless we can eradicate it or pretty much eradicate it. It’s not good enough for one or two countries to do really well. So we have to work together on this, just like we have to work together if we’re going to save the planet,” he said.

And if the West fails to lead in vaccinating the world, its claim to global moral leadership could be fatally undermined.

Climate crisis

G7 climate

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the world must apply the lessons learnt in the battle against COVID to tackling the second biggest challenge – climate change.

On the eve of the summit, America’s new president wrote that the US is “back in the chair on the issue of climate change” and “we have an opportunity to deliver ambitious progress that curbs the climate crisis”.

Economic recovery

G7 economy

The G7 needs to resuscitate a global economy weakened by the pandemic.

But even before the virus, millions were so disenchanted with the way things are run economically that they voted for populists like Donald Trump.

The G7 must convince them that the economic integration, globalisation and multilateral institutions that the West has worked so hard to build up are worth their mettle. Otherwise the populists will be back, maybe even Trump himself.

Sir Kim Darroch was British ambassador to the US.

He told Sky News that allies will remain nervous about that for some time to come, saying: “More people voted for Donald Trump [in 2020] than they did in 2016. So there is a way to go for them to be convinced that the American cause has been reset in a stable and consistent way for the foreseeable future.”


G7 China

China is a thorny issue the G7 knows it must handle carefully.

Its trampling of human rights in Hong Kong cannot be ignored. Likewise its treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang – genocidal, or near enough. And its bellicose statements about Taiwan.

If the G7 is serious about what it calls values-based diplomacy, it cannot turn a blind eye to any of these. But it can’t afford to alienate China either. It will be a tricky balancing act.

Former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Sky News the G7 needs to be robust when it comes to the way China is behaving.

“An attack is not necessarily by tanks or aeroplanes,” he said. “On the contrary, you can use economic coercion as part of your aggressiveness. And that’s exactly what China is exercising.”

Mr Rasmussen suggests the free world applies an “all for one, one for all” approach to China’s economic bullying. That way Beijing might think twice about using its size and power to coerce smaller nations economically.

Superpower supremacy


For some there’s nothing less at stake at this summit than who is going to run the world in the years ahead. Democracies or autocracies?

Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned the main challenge in the coming years will be the fight between autocracy and democracy, autocracy primarily represented by China and Russia, and to counter the advancing autocracies there’s the need to rally around basic democratic principles.

If that sounds a bit abstract, don’t underestimate how much that contest could effect us all. “It’s an existential question, it’s a question about who will set the global norms and standards in the future,” he argues.

Giving one example, Mr Rasmussen said: “You can use artificial intelligence to make our lives better and easier, but you can also use artificial intelligence to strengthen surveillance of your people, controlling your people. And if it’s Beijing who sets the international norms and standards for the use of artificial intelligence, semiconductors and data flows, etc, then we would undermine privacy and individual liberty. And that is what is at stake.”

Fortunately for the West, if it can get the individual challenges right, it has a better chance of winning the bigger battle, seeing off the threat from autocracies.

An alliance of democracies that can lead on COVID, lead on climate change and lead a global economic recovery will be a more appealing alternative to autocratic regimes in Moscow and Beijing – and more likely to reclaim its preeminent position. Failure will only strengthen Russia and China.

Hope for global action

G7 foreign aid

What happens in Cornwall will have an impact on all our lives.

The good news is this G7 is better placed than many before to achieve unity and success. Recent summits have been marred by Donald Trump’s impatience with the whole idea of western multilateral democracy.

Before that, the inclusion of Russia as part of the G8 group led inevitably to watered down compromise resolutions.

This G7 includes a reenergised America deeply committed to its principles, and the state of the world gives an urgency and potential for focus we have not seen in a long time.

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Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy reach ‘agreement in principle’ on raising US debt ceiling




Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy reach 'agreement in principle' on raising US debt ceiling

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have reached an “agreement in principle” on raising the US debt ceiling, according to sources in Washington.

The tentative deal would bring to an end the months-long stalemate between the Republican controlled Congress and Democrat run White House.

Currently, the debt ceiling stands at $31.4trn (£25.4trn) with the new limit yet to be announced.

Mr Biden and Mr McCarthy held a 90-minute phone call on Saturday evening to discuss the deal, as the 5 June deadline looms.

Following the conversation, the speaker tweeted: “I just got off the phone with the president a bit ago.

“After he wasted time and refused to negotiate for months, we’ve come to an agreement in principle that is worthy of the American people.”

During a very brief press conference on Capitol Hill Mr McCarthy said they “still have more work to do tonight to finish the writing of it”, adding that he expects to finish writing the bill on Sunday, then hold a vote on Wednesday.

More on Joe Biden

The deal would avert an economically destabilising default, so long as they succeed in passing it through the narrowly divided Congress before the Treasury Department runs short of money to cover all its obligations.

Republicans have pushed for steep cuts to spending and other conditions, including new work requirements on some benefit programmes for low-income Americans and for funds to be stripped from the Internal Revenue Service, the US tax agency.

They said they want to slow the growth of the US debt, which is now roughly equal to the annual output of the country’s economy.

Read more:
Biden cancels visits to Australia and Papua New Guinea to deal with debt crisis
Could US default on its debt? UK should be praying it doesn’t

Exact details of the deal were not immediately available, but negotiators have agreed to cap non-defence discretionary spending at 2023 levels for two years, in exchange for a debt ceiling increase over a similar period, according to Reuters news agency.

The impasse frightened the financial markets, weighing on stocks and forcing the US to pay record-high interest rates in some bond sales.

A default would take a far heavier toll, economists say, likely pushing America into recession, rocking the world economy and cause unemployment to spike.

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Winnie The Pooh characters used in US school district’s mass shootings safety book




Winnie The Pooh characters used in US school district's mass shootings safety book

A Dallas school district has apologised after distributing a Winnie The Pooh-themed book about school shootings.

The book is titled Stay Safe: Run, Hide, Fight and its cover says: “If there is danger, let Winnie the Pooh and his crew show you what to do.”

Inside, it includes passages such as: “If danger is near, do not fear. Hide like Pooh does until the police appear. Doors should be locked and the passage blocked. Turn off the light to stay out of sight.”

Dallas Independent School District said in a statement it works “hard every day to prevent school shootings” by dealing with online threats and improving security measures.

“Recently a booklet was sent home so parents could discuss with their children how to stay safe in such cases,” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, we did not provide parents [with] any guide or context. We apologise for the confusion and are thankful to parents who reached out to assist us in being better partners.”

The school district did not say how many pupils received the book.

California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, was among those who criticised the book, posting on Twitter: “Winnie the Pooh is now teaching Texas kids about active shooters because the elected officials do not have the courage to keep our kids safe and pass common sense gun safety laws.”

‘It’s not exactly cute’

Cindy Campos, whose five-year-old son was sent home with the book, said she cried when she read it.

“It’s hard because you’re reading them a bedtime story and basically now you have to explain in this cute way what the book is about, when it’s not exactly cute,” she said.

Ms Campos said it seemed especially “tone deaf” to send it home around the time Texas was marking the anniversary of last year’s mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, when a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.

The book was published by Praetorian Consulting, a Houston-based firm that provides safety, security, and crisis management training and services.

The company says on its website that it uses age-appropriate material to teach the concepts of “run, hide, fight” – the approach US authorities say civilians should take in active shooter situations.

Read more: America’s 10 most deadly mass shootings of 2023

Active shooter drills have become common in American schools in recent years.

While many associate the characters of Winnie The Pooh with Disney, they are free to use legally in the US with no repercussions.

US copyright law means that works of authors are available to use by anyone either 70 years after the author’s death or 95 years after publication.

As well as the book, AA Milne’s characters have also been featured in a recent horror film titled Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey.

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Boy, 11, ‘shot in the chest’ by police officer he had called for help




Boy, 11, 'shot in the chest' by police officer he had called for help

An 11-year-old boy who was shot by a police officer has returned home from hospital after almost a week of treatment.

Aderrien Murry spent five days in hospital with a collapsed lung, lacerated liver, and fractured ribs after the officer shot him in the chest early on Saturday, lawyer Carlos Moore said.

Aderrien was well enough to leave hospital on Wednesday, and is continuing his recovery at home in Indianola, about 95 miles northwest of Jackson, Mississippi.

Mr Moore said the family is “demanding justice”.

“An 11-year-old black boy in the city of Indianola came within an inch of losing his life – he had done nothing wrong and everything right.”

Mr Moore said that Aderrien’s mother Nakala had asked him to call police at about 4am on Saturday after a previous partner had showed up at home.

Ms Murry felt threatened, Mr Moore said, and the child had “called the police to come to his mother’s rescue, he called his grandmother to come to his mother’s rescue, the police came there and escalated the situation”.

More on Mississippi

Two police officers arrived and one kicked the front door before Ms Murry opened it, telling them that the man had gone but her three children were inside.

Child does not understand why a police officer shot him

Mr Moore said that Sergeant Greg Capers, who is black, yelled out that anyone inside should come out with their hands up.

When Aderrien walked into the living room with nothing in his hands, Capers shot him in the chest, Mr Moore said.

Indianola City Attorney Kimberly Merchant confirmed to Indianola’s Enterprise-Tocsin newspaper that Capers was the officer who shot the little boy and Mr Moore said on Thursday that Capers had been suspended with pay while the incident is investigated.

Ms Murry said her son is “blessed” to be alive but he does not understand why a police officer shot him.

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‘That’s my child, y’all’

She described what had happened as “the worst moment in my life”, adding: “I feel like nobody cares – that’s my child, y’all.”

Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said its agents are looking into what happened and will share their findings with the Attorney General’s Office.

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