The European Commission has recommended the start of accession negotiations with the European Union for Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as granting candidate country status to Georgia. In the case of Ukraine, the Commission recommended that negotiations should begin once the country meets the remaining conditions related to combating corruption and strengthening minority protection standards. For Moldova, these conditions pertain to combating corruption and improving financial regulations, according to Digi24. The final decision on starting negotiations with Moldova will be made by the member states at the European Council meeting on December 14 and 15.
Transgender people can be baptised, serve as godparents – Vatican
Transgender people can be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings and receive baptism themselves, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, known as the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, said on Wednesday, Reuters reports Bishop Josè Negri of Santo Amaro in Brazil sent the doctrinal office six questions in July regarding LGBT people and their participation in the sacraments of baptism and matrimony. The three pages of questions and answers were signed by the department’s head, Argentine Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, and approved by Pope Francis on October 31. They were posted on the department’s website on Wednesday. “This is an important step forward in the Church seeing transgender people not only as people (in a Church where some say they don’t really exist) but as Catholics,” Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest and supporter of LGBT rights in the Church, said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
‘War crimes committed by both Hamas and Israel’
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said both Hamas and Israel had committed war crimes since the conflict erupted last month. “The atrocities perpetrated by Palestinian armed groups on October 7 were terrible, brutal and shocking: they were war crimes, as is the continued holding of hostages,” Turk was quoted as saying by international media. “Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians also constitutes a war crime, as does the illegal forced evacuation of civilians,” the UN high commissioner added. Turk expressed himself Wednesday after visiting the Rafah crossing, which he defined as a symbolic lifeline for the 2.3 million people who live in Gaza. “The lifeline has been unfairly, scandalously weak,” he said, calling for more humanitarian aid to be delivered to the Palestinian enclave. The UN high commissioner also urged both sides to accept a ceasefire based on three human rights imperatives: the provision of aid to Gaza, the release of hostages by Hamas and the implementation of “a lasting end to the occupation based on the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to self-determination and their legitimate security interests.” Israel commented on the war crimes allegations by stating that “Israel Defence Force attacks against military targets are subject to the relevant provisions of international law, including the adoption of feasible precautions and the assessment that accidental damage to civilians is not excessive compared to to the military advantage expected from the attack”.
Qatar reportedly working deal to free some Hamas hostages
Qatari and US officials are attempting to work out a deal between Israel and Hamas for the potential release of a dozen or more hostages held in Gaza, including Americans, in exchange for a short cease-fire, multiple media outlets reported. Agence France-Presse, citing a source it said was close to Hamas, reported Wednesday that six American hostages were involved in the proposed deal. “Talks revolve around the release of 12 hostages, half of them Americans, in exchange for a three-day humanitarian pause,” the source told AFP, adding that the pause would “enable Hamas to release the hostages and to enable Egypt an extended (period of time) to deliver humanitarian aid.” Meanwhile, CIA director William “Bill” Burns is expected to travel to Qatar later today to discuss a deal to release captives held in Gaza.
Scores killed in latest Israeli strikes
The Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported early on Thursday that at least 30 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed overnight in the latest Israeli bombardment in Jabalia in northern Gaza. According to the report, dozens were also injured in an attack that destroyed two residential buildings located in the refugee camp. Wafa is also reporting that an Israeli aircraft earlier targeted a civilian car next to Al-Yemen Al-Saeed Hospital in Jabalia, killing 19 people and wounding a number of others. Five more bodies were also taken to the Indonesian Hospital and two to Kamal Adwan Hospital following the bombing of a house in Jabalia. At least eight others were also reported killed in al-Sabra in the western part of Gaza. Meanwhile, 10 people, including a child, were killed in a separate strike on the home of the Abu Taim family in the town of Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis. The United Nations says the exodus of civilians from besieged northern Gaza is accelerating amid concerns about forced displacement. Israel continued its bombing raids in Gaza and claimed to be advancing against Hamas in Gaza City.
Telecoms outage cuts off millions of Australians
More than 10 million Australians were cut off from internet and phone services on Wednesday after unexplained outages struck one of the country’s largest communications companies. The mystery glitch crashed electronic payment systems, disrupted phone lines used by ambulances and police, and briefly halted rush-hour trains in the southern city of Melbourne. Optus, a subsidiary of Singapore telecommunications company Singtel, said it had restored services on Wednesday evening – but it was unable to pinpoint what had caused the fault.
Hollywood actors’ union strike deal with studios, ending strike
Hollywood’s actors union reached a tentative deal with studios Wednesday to end its strike, bringing a close to months of labour strife that ground the entertainment industry to a historic halt. The Asociated Press says the three-year contract agreement must be approved by votes from the union’s board and its members in the coming days, but the leadership declared that the strike will today, Thursday. At nearly four months, it was by far the longest strike ever for more than 60,000 film and television actors.
Picasso painting sold at auction for $139 million
One of Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces, ‘Woman with a Clock’, was sold at auction for $139.3 million (€130 million) at Sotheby’s in New York – the second highest price ever achieved for the artist. The 1932 painting depicts one of the Spanish artist’s companions and muses, the French painter Marie-Therese Walter, and was valued at more than $120 million before it sold, according to the auction house.
Main photo credit: Evgeny Feldman / Creative Common