Pope prays for pandemic’s end, peace dialogues
Pope Francis prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge health care for all, vaccines for the poor and for dialogue to prevail in resolving world conflicts. Francis lamented ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, newly flaring tensions in Ukraine and Ethiopia, and an “unprecedented crisis” in Lebanon. He warned that the world was becoming so desensitised to crises and suffering that they are now happening while hardly being noticed. The 85-year-old pontiff prayed God to “inspire all men and women of good to seek the best ways possible to overcome the current health crisis and its effects”, adding, “Open hearts to ensure that necessary medical care – and vaccines in particular – are provided to those peoples who need them most.”
Biden praises Americans’ ‘courage’ in pandemic
US President Joe Biden has praised the “immense courage” of Americans in face of the pandemic and invited them to seek “light” and unity in difficulties. In a message, also signed by his wife Jill, Biden said, “This year we have seen the immense courage, strength, resilience and determination of all of you who care, comfort, teach, protect and serve the country in large or small ways.” The presidential couple placed particular emphasis on year-end traditions.
Queen pays tribute to ‘beloved’ Philip
Queen Elizabeth noted another year of pain – particularly personal, after losing her husband, Prince Philip, in April. In her traditional Christmas Day message, she urged people to celebrate with friends and family, “although Christmas can be hard for those who have lost loved ones”. As British families were enjoying their traditional Christmas dinner, the queen noted Philip’s “mischievous, inquiring twinkle” which “was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.” Meanwhile, an armed intruder was arrested in Windsor Castle grounds
on Christmas Day. Police said the man, aged 19 from Southampton, did not enter any buildings.
Most Britons say Brexit ‘has gone badly’
More than six out of 10 voters believe Brexit has either gone badly or worse than they expected – a year after the UK left the EU, according to an anniversary poll for “The Observer”. The survey also found that 42% of people who voted Leave in 2016 had a negative view of how Brexit had turned out so far; 26% of Leave supporters said it had gone worse than they expected, while 16% of those who voted for Brexit said they had expected it to go badly and had been proved right. Among people who voted Remain, 86% said it had gone badly or worse than they expected. Overall, just 14% of all voters said Brexit had gone better than expected.
France and Italy register record new COVID cases
France has broken through the threshold of 100,000 COVID infections in 24 hours – an absolute first since the start of the pandemic. According to the French public health agency, the new cases registered are 104,611. And 54,762 new cases of COVID infections were registered in Italy in the last 24 hours – also new record since the beginning of the pandemic. According to data from the Ministry of Health, the victims were 144, three more than Friday. And frresh restrictions are coming into force in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to slow the spread of the Omicron variant in the UK. Ministers in England are not expected to discuss whether to impose further measures until Monday.
Australia’s NSW also sets fresh record
Australia’s most populous state reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and a sharp jump in hospitalisations while thousands of people were isolating at home after contracting the virus. NSW reported 6,394 new infections, up from 6,288 a day earlier. State Health Minister Brad Hazzard indicated Sunday that Omicron is widespread.
James Webb Telescope completes mid-course correction
NASA says the James Webb Space Telescope has successfully completed a mid-course correction burn on its way to the final destination: the observing spot, located 1.5 million km from Earth. NASA explained that Webb will orbit the Sun in line with Earth so its sunshield can protect the telescope from light and heat. The largest and most powerful space telescope ever launched, Webb will replace the famous Hubble telescope. It will take Webb about one month to reach its destination and it is expected to start taking images of the universe in about six months.
Florida man with drugs around penis…
Associated Press quotes Florida authorities saying they found cocaine and methamphetamine wrapped around a man’s penis during a traffic stop, but the man denied the drugs were his! Deputies said they stopped a vehicle driving without its lights on yesterday early morning. The driver was arrested on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana possession. Authorities said they found a gun under the passenger’s seat while searching the car and discovered the drugs while searching the passenger. The man said the drugs were not his, but didn’t say who they belonged to.