Science & Health

NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Sets Speed Record on Mars

One of NASA’s robots on Mars chops its way through the record books. Plus, next-generation spacesuits, and a meteor shower ignites the sky over Brazil. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi brings us The Week in Space

Arts & Entertainment/Economy & business

Queen Elizabeth II to Salute Jubilee From Palace Balcony

Queen Elizabeth II will make two appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony on Thursday, kicking off four days of public events to mark her historic Platinum Jubilee.

The extent of the 96-year-old monarch’s involvement in the celebrations for her record-breaking 70 years on the throne has been a source of speculation for months.

She has cut back drastically on her public appearances since last year because of difficulties standing and walking — and a bout of COVID-19.

But royal officials confirmed that she would take the salute of mounted troops from the balcony after a military parade called Trooping the Colour.

The centuries-old ceremony to officially mark the sovereign’s birthday has previously seen the queen take the salute on horseback herself.

Her 73-year-old son and heir, Prince Charles, will step in this year, supported by his sister, Princess Anne, 71, and his eldest son, Prince William, 39.

Joining senior royals watching the display of military precision will be Charles’ younger son, Prince Harry, and his wife, Meghan, on a rare visit from California, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

But the queen’s disgraced second son, Prince Andrew, 62, is not expected to join them.

She will return to the balcony later to watch a flyby of military aircraft, including iconic models from World War II, the palace said.

At nightfall, the queen will be at Windsor Castle, west of London, to take part in a ceremony to light more than 3,000 beacons across the country and the Commonwealth of 54 nations that she heads.

Parties, parades, concerts


Elizabeth was a 25-year-old princess when she succeeded her father, King George VI in 1952, bringing a rare touch of glamour to a battered nation still enduring food rations after World War II.

Seventy years on, she is now the only monarch most Britons have ever known, becoming an enduring figurehead through often troubled times.

Britain’s first and very likely only Platinum Jubilee will see street parties, pop concerts and parades until Sunday in potentially the last major public celebration of the queen’s long reign.

It has not yet been confirmed if she will attend a thanksgiving service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, while her planned attendance at horse racing showcase The Derby on Saturday is off.

She could yet put in a final appearance — again from the palace balcony — on Sunday, at the climax of a huge public pageant involving 6,000 performers.

In a message, the queen thanked everyone involved in organizing the community events in Britain and around the world.

“I know that many happy memories will be created at these festive occasions,” she said.

“I continue to be inspired by the goodwill shown to me, and hope that the coming days will provide an opportunity to reflect on all that has been achieved during the last 70, as we look to the future with confidence and enthusiasm.”

Attention turning to succession

The jubilee, held against a backdrop of rising inflation that has left many Britons struggling, is being seen not just as respite for the public after two years scarred by the pandemic but also for the royals.

Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, caused shockwaves in early 2020 by moving to North America, from where they have publicly criticized royal life.

In April last year, she lost her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, and was forced to sit alone at his funeral because of coronavirus restrictions.

Since then, she has struggled with her health and also the fallout from Andrew’s links to the convicted sex offenders Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Andrew, who in February settled a U.S. civil claim for sexual assault, has effectively been fired from his royal duties.

Attention is increasingly turning to the succession, and the monarchy’s future at home and in the 14 other Commonwealth countries where the queen is also head of state.

Her approval rating among Britons remains high at 75%, according to a poll by YouGov published Wednesday, but Charles is only at 50%.

A total of 62% still want a monarchy, although younger people are split, with 33% in favor, and 31% wanting a republic.

Only 39% said they thought there would still be a monarch in 100 years’ time.

Science & Health

US Needs More Baby Formula Makers, Biden Tells Manufacturers 

U.S. President Joe Biden met with major manufacturers of infant formula on Wednesday, and suggested their ranks should grow, as his administration presses ahead with efforts to boost imported supplies to help ease a nationwide shortage. 

“We need more new entrants in the infant formula market,” Biden said during a virtual meeting with executives from ByHeart, Bubs Australia, Reckitt Benckiser Group, Perrigo Company and Nestles Gerber. 

Multiple global suppliers are seeking U.S. approval to ship critical baby formula as Biden’s administration accelerates what it has dubbed “Operation Fly Formula” to help fill store shelves and calm frustrated parents. 

With about $4 billion in annual sales, the U.S. baby formula market has historically been dominated by domestic producers, with imports limited and subject to high tariffs. 

But U.S. parents have struggled to find baby formula in recent months after a February recall of some formulas by one of the nation’s main manufacturers, Abbott Laboratories, coupled with pandemic-related supply chain issues. 

The latest administration effort to solve the problem includes an announcement on Wednesday that United Airlines has agreed to transport U.K.-made Kendamil formula free of charge from Heathrow Airport in London to multiple airports across the United States over a three-week period. 

This first shipment, which includes Kendamil Classic and Kendamil Organic formula, will be available at Target stores across the country in the coming weeks. 

The administration also secured two flights totaling 380,000 pounds of baby formula from Bubs Australia that will be delivered to California and Pennsylvania on June 9 and June 11, respectively. 

Biden said on Wednesday he first learned of the severity of the U.S. baby formula shortage in early April. The White House said it had been working around the clock since February to address the problem. 

U.S. lawmakers have criticized the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for not acting promptly to address the problems that caused the recall at Abbott’s Michigan plant, which is set to reopen June 4. 

The Biden administration has relaxed its import policy and invoked the Defense Production Act to help increase available U.S. supplies, which is still expected to take weeks. It has also said it could use federal resources to help transport supplies to retailers. 

Two million cans of formula have been sent from the U.K., and Australian manufacturers are also preparing to send in more product. 

Thorben Nilewski of Organic Family, which makes the popular Holle infant formulas, said in an email that the German company applied for the FDA’s temporary approval but has not yet received any feedback. 

Many U.S. parents rely on baby formula. Fewer than half the babies born in the United States were exclusively breast-fed through their first three months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2020 Breastfeeding Report Card.