Pope slams ‘insatiable greed’ at Christmas Eve Mass; Pope Francis has reminded Christians that their messiah was born in poverty and said they should focus on love and charity instead of “consumerism.” 10,000 people attended the event in St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis used the Christmas Eve Mass to condemn the pursuit of riches on Monday, and urged Christians to consider Jesus’ humble birth story. According to the New Testament, the founder of Christianity was born in a Bethlehem stable and was then placed in a manger. “Standing before the manger, we understand that the food of life is not material riches but love, not gluttony but charity, not ostentation but simplicity,” the pope told the worshipers gathered in the Vatican. “An insatiable greed marks all human history, even today, when, paradoxically, a few dine luxuriantly while all too many go without the daily bread needed to survive,” he added. The 82-year-old pontiff led the midnight mass before nearly 10,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica, the biggest Christian church in the world. Since becoming the church leader in 2013, Francis has focused on issues of poverty and inequality.
Barcelona boosts security after US warns of possible attack; Police in Barcelona were looking into a terror threat after the US State Department warned travelers to avoid the city’s Las Ramblas area. The authorities were reportedly searching for a 30-year-old Moroccan bus driver. Catalan police were checking coaches, buses, and minibuses in Barcelona on Monday, after the local media reported on a possible terror plot involving a 30-year-old Moroccan. The man is reported to have a bus driver license. The daily El Periodico de Catalunya said that the police have circulated an internal note that the man could drive a bus into civilians.
Top Iranian cleric Ayatollah Shahroudi dies; Shahroudi was one of the most powerful clerics in Iran. As the former head of the judiciary, human rights groups say he was responsible for more than 2,000 executions. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, a senior Iranian cleric and former head of the judiciary, died Monday at the age of 70. Shahroudi had been the head of the powerful Expediency Council since last year and a member of the 12-man Guardian Council. The Expediency Council resolves differences between the parliament and the Guardian Council, which vets legislation for compliance with Iran’s Islamic based constitution.
Heidi Klum gets engaged to musician Tom Kaulitz; The German supermodel went public in May about her relationship with to Tokio Hotel guitarist Tom Kaulitz. Klum has four children from her marriages to British popstar Seal and celebrity hair stylist Ric Pipino.
Multiple deaths in Kabul, Afghanistan after militant attack on government compound; Militants have killed at least 43 people in an hours-long assault on a government compound. No group has claimed responsibility for the brazen attack that involved a suicide bombing and a hostage situation. At least 43 people, mostly government employees, were killed during a coordinated militant raid on a government building in Kabul on Monday, Afghan authorities said. Another 10 were wounded in the seven-hour standoff with police, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said. The brazen assault began in the afternoon when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a car outside the public works ministry. Within minutes of the powerful explosion three gunmen, armed with assault rifles and explosive devises, stormed the building of the National Authority for Disabled People and Martyrs’ Families and took civilians hostage.
Afghan security forces evacuated more than 350 employees even as they engaged in a gun battle with the militants. Witnesses reported hearing at least five explosions as police and gunmen traded fire. Police cordoned off the area as they went carefully from room to room and floor to floor to secure the building. All three gunmen were killed. No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban militant group has carried out several attacks on government buildings in the past.
Refugee children facing violence at EU borders; Violence against refugee children at the EU’s external borders is on the rise, says a new report from Save the Children. The organization’s Meike Riebau spoke to DW about what minors experience at the bloc’s frontiers. There were rather shocking reports: Of the approximate 6,300 children surveyed, 1,376 children told us that they had experienced so-called violent rejections at the border. This is already illegal. In some cases, there was also the use of extreme violence. The sheer number of affected children shocked us. Among the 1,376 children, there were 934 minors who were separated or completely unaccompanied by their families.
Are credit card companies financing US mass shootings?; A ‘New York Times’ investigation found that credit cards were used to fund the majority of a decade’s mass shootings. In some cases, the perpetrators used credit to buy weapons they could not otherwise have afforded.Many of the gunmen who carried out mass shootings in the United States over the past decade used credit cards to buy their high-powered weapons, a New York Times investigation revealed Monday. The newspaper found that in at least eight of the past decade’s 13 mass shootings that killed 10 or more people, the perpetrators used credit to fund their attacks. In some cases, the perpetrators used credit to buy weapons they could not otherwise have afforded. More than 200 people were killed in those eight shootings.
Germany: Nine homeless deaths due to cold since October; The German association for homeless people has claimed that sleeping out in cold temperatures caused the victims to die. Last year, the winter chill claimed three lives during the same period. “We know of nine people who died at night for no fault of their own,” Werena Rosenke, the association’s managing director told the newspaper Rheinische Post. “In some cases forensic medical examinations are still ongoing, but we assume that the victims had no dwelling and froze to death due to low temperatures.” Four of the deaths were reported in the port city of Hamburg, two in Düsseldorf and one each in Cologne, Essen and the eastern German city of Lauchhammer.
More than 1.6 million sign petition to sue France over climate inaction; Greenpeace, Oxfam and two French environmental groups launched the petition last week and received an outpouring of support in just a few days, including from French film stars Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche. “The more we are, the harder it will be for the government to ignore us,” Greenpeace France director Jean-François Julliard told FRANCE 24. “What we want, in the end, is that a court ruling requires France to do more in its fight against climate change,” he said, ideally with “a binding decision”.
Nikkei below 20,000, tumbling 5%; Tokyo stock’s benchmark Nikkei Average plummeted more than 1,000 points, or about 5 percent, following a big drop in the US. The index plunged below the key 20,000 benchmark for the first time since September 2017.Tokyo stock’s benchmark Nikkei Average plummeted more than 1,000 points, or about 5 percent, following a big drop in the US. The index plunged below the key 20,000 benchmark for the first time since September 2017. The Nikkei tumbled, ending Tuesday’s morning session at 19,147. The index fell 1,018 points, or five percent lower from Friday’s close, to the lowest level since April last year. Analysts say many investors are selling stocks because they expect a global downturn. Share prices in New York plummeted on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering a drop of more than 650 points. Analyst say US politics is one of the reasons for the sell-off. This plunge came after US President Donald Trump tweeted that the Federal Reserve is the only problem facing the US economy. Trump has stepped up his attacks against the Fed after it raised interest rates earlier this month. The US government is in partial shutdown because Congress has disagreed on a spending bill favored by Trump.
Japan seeks facts on S.Korea radar incident; Japan’s foreign minister says he hopes the facts surrounding a radar incident involving South Korea’s military will be established through bilateral efforts. Taro Kono’s comment followed a meeting on Monday in Seoul of officials from the foreign ministries of Japan and South Korea. During the director-general level meeting, Japan said a South Korean destroyer directed its weapons-control radar at a Japanese Self-Defense Force patrol aircraft last Thursday. Tokyo has demanded that South Korea prevent a recurrence. But South Korea has denied that its vessel intentionally leveled its radar at the SDF aircraft. Kono said that during the talks, defense officials from both countries discussed the technical aspects of the incident. He also touched on a South Korean top court’s ruling that ordered a Japanese company to compensate citizens for what they call forced labor during World War Two. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they will start procedures to seize the company’s assets in South Korea. Kono said he believes South Korea’s government will take measures to ensure the ruling won’t pose any disadvantages to Japanese businesses. He added that his government is ready to take countermeasures just in case, including bringing the case to an international court.
Ghosn’s close aide could be freed on bail on Tues.; A close aide to former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn could be released as earlier as Tuesday on bail, after spending over one month in detention. The Tokyo District Court is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to grant bail to former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly. Kelly and Ghosn have been detained in the Tokyo Detention House since their arrest on November 19th. Kelly was indicted on December 10th on charges of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act. He is suspected of understating Ghosn’s post-retirement payment in Nissan’s securities reports over a five-year period up to fiscal 2014. Kelly was later served a fresh warrant for allegedly doing something similar over a three-year period up to fiscal 2017. But last Thursday, the court rejected prosecutors’ request to extend his detention. Sources say Kelly denies any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Ghosn was re-arrested on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust on Friday, the day after the prosecutors’ request for extending his detention was turned down by the court.
S.Korea fines BMW $10 mil. over engine fires; South Korea’s government has fined German carmaker BMW about 9.9 million dollars, accusing the carmaker of hiding defects that caused a series of engine fires. There have been at least 52 cases of engine fires in BMW vehicles in South Korea this year. The transportation ministry announced the penalty on Monday after being notified of the results of a 4-month probe by a panel of civilian experts and government officials. The ministry says faulty parts in the exhaust gas recirculation system caused the fires. It claims that BMW officials in Germany knew about the defects and engaged in a cover-up. Ministry officials were also critical of what they called the company’s insufficient handling of recalls. They say the ministry has referred BMW’s South Korean unit to prosecutors over the matter. BMW Korea announced in August that analysis showed the exhaust gas recirculation system to be defective. The company has so far issued recalls of more than 170,000 vehicles.
China opposes Canadians’ release; China has rejected Canada’s call for the release of two Canadian nationals detained in China, and demanded the release of a Chinese high-tech executive arrested in Canada. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Friday called for the release of the two Canadians who were detained after Canada arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou on December first at the request of the United States. The US government made a similar demand. At a news conference on Monday, China’s foreign ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said the country expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the demand by the two nations. She urged them to respect China’s judicial sovereignty. Hua went on to say Canada’s arrest of Meng at the request of the US government is more of a problem. She said Canada should correct its mistake by immediately releasing Meng and guarantee her legitimate rights while calling on the US to take back her arrest warrant. The detention of the two Canadians is widely seen as retaliation by China for Meng’s arrest.