'We just do not have enough players': More bowl games canceled as COVID cases surge
For the second year in a row, college bowl games are being canceled as coronavirus case counts climb. Rosters are also depleted by injuries and players either opting out of games or transferring to other schools.
On Sunday, two more schools announced that they wouldn't participate in bowl games. The University of Virginia Cavaliers dropped out of Wednesday's Wasabi Fenway Bowl "due to the number of COVID cases impacting its roster, preventing safe participation," the Fenway Bowl said in a statement announcing the game's cancellation.
The Virginia team was supposed to head to Boston on Christmas Day to play the Southern Methodist University Mustangs. But as they prepared for that date, some U.Va. players started showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, U.Va. said in a statement. After those players tested positive for the virus, the rest of the team was tested on Christmas morning — and more players were found to have the virus.
Save the Children says 2 staffers are missing after a massacre in Myanmar
BANGKOK (AP) — The international aid group Save the Children said two of its staffers were missing in a massacre in eastern Myanmar that left more than 30 people, including women and children, dead and burned in their vehicles after they were reportedly shot by government troops as they were fleeing combat.
Photos of the aftermath of the Christmas Eve killings in Mo So village, just outside Hpruso township in Kayah state, spread on social media in the country, fueling outrage against the military that took power in February after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The accounts could not be independently verified. The photos showed the charred bodies of over 30 people in three burned-out vehicles.
On Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar said it was appalled by the "barbaric attack in Kayah state that killed at least 35 civilians, including women and children.
France sees 100,000 daily COVID cases for first time
Commercial airlines around the world cancelled more than 5,700 flights over the Christmas weekend according to a flight tracker website, as a mounting wave of coronavirus infections driven by the Omicron variant created greater uncertainty and misery for holiday travellers.
On Saturday, Pope Francis prayed for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, using his Christmas Day address to urge vaccines for the poor and health care for all.
Coronavirus cases in France have hit six figures as health officials recorded 104,611 cases in the previous 24 hours, the third consecutive day the numbers have hit record highs.
The latest official figures come ahead of a meeting Monday in which President Emmanuel Macron and key members of his government are set to discuss new COVID-19 safety measures.
The Guardian (Ed. note. I have drunk fresh-brewed chicha in Peru)
A seed for all seasons: can ancient methods future-proof food security in the Andes?
In a pastoral scene that has changed little in centuries, farmers wearing red woollen ponchos gather on a December morning in a semicircle to drink chicha, made from fermented maize, and mutter an invocation to Pachamama – Mother Earth – before sprinkling the dregs on the Andean soil.
Singing in Quechua, the language spread along the vast length of the Andes by the Incas, they hill the soil around plants in the numerous small plots terraced into a patchwork up and down the Peruvian mountainside.
The Andes sustains one of the most diverse food systems in the world. Through specially adapted farming techniques, these farmers conserve a great variety of maize, also known as corn, and other biodiverse crops that could be key to food security as global heating causes a more erratic climate. Maize has been grown in Lares, near Cusco, for thousands of years, in one of the highest farming systems in the world. Choquecancha and Ccachin communities specialise in more than 50 varieties of the cereal in a myriad of different sizes and colours.
Dams burst in northeastern Brazil as region hit by floods
ITABUNA, Brazil, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Two dams gave way in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia after weeks of heavy rains, swamping already swollen local rivers as flooding hit towns across the region, authorities said on Sunday.
The Igua dam, on the Verruga river near the city of Vitoria da Conquista in southern Bahia, collapsed on Saturday night, forcing authorities to evacuate residents, mainly in the town of Itambe.
A second dam gave way to rising water levels in Jussiape, 100 kilometers to the north, on Sunday morning, bringing more alerts for residents to move to safer ground.
There were no reports of deaths or injuries caused by the dam failures, though bridges and roads were damaged.
Germany: Baerbock vows new law to curb weapons exports
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the new coalition government would introduce a law that tightens curbs on weapons exports.
The Green party politician made the comments days after it was revealed that then-Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration approved export deals worth nearly €5 billion with Egypt and Singapore as it prepared to hand over power.
"As a coalition, we have made it clear that we are reviewing the arms export policy of the past few years," Baerbock told the German dpa news agency on Sunday.
"We are working on an arms export control law that will make clearer the criteria by which arms exports are approved."
The new coalition government — made up of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the neoliberal FDP — vowed in their alliance agreement to tighten arms exports to so-called third countries outside the European Union and NATO.
That would include Egypt, which has been one of Germany's key export destinations for arms.
Why hasn't Thailand recognized same-sex marriage?
Despite its international LGBTQ-friendly image, rights activists in Thailand warn that the country is still far from granting equal rights to members of the LGBTQ community.
Nattawut Kongsawat, an LGBTQ activist and employee at a multinational firm, told DW that the fact that same-sex marriage is still banned in Thailand is evidence that members of marginalized communities are not viewed as equals in the eyes of the law in the southeast Asian country.
"I want to get married legally. My partner is not entitled to the benefits provided by my company as I cannot list him as my legal spouse in Thailand, although we have been living together for the past six years," Nattawut said.
In a newly issued 12-page statement this month, Thailand's Constitutional Court declared that "marriage equality would not only overturn the natural order, but it would also shake the very foundation of society and humanity."
Last month, the court ruled that Section 1448 of the Civil and Commercial Code — which only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman — does not violate the country's constitution.
New York Times
‘Magic’ Weight-Loss Pills and Covid Cures: Dr. Oz Under the Microscope
A wealth of evidence now shows that the malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine were not effective at treating Covid-19 and carried potential risks.
But in the early months of the pandemic, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity physician with a daytime TV show, positioned himself as one of the chief promoters of the drugs on Fox News. In the same be-the-best-you tone that he used to promote miracle weight-loss cures on “The Dr. Oz Show,” he elevated limited studies that he said showed wondrous promise.
His “jaw dropped,” he said, while reviewing one tiny study from France, calling it “a game changer.” In all, Dr. Oz promoted chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in more than 25 appearanceson Fox in March and April 2020.
When a Veterans Affairs study showed that Covid-19 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine were more likely to die than untreated patients, that advocacy came to an abrupt halt.
San Francisco Chronicle ( I-80 is one of our major highways)
70-mile stretch of I-80 in Sierra closed indefinitely due to Tahoe snowstorm
Whiteout conditions have closed a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 80 in the Sierra as a blustery Christmas weekend storm dumps snow on the Tahoearea.
Caltrans announced Sunday I-80 will be closed from Colfax to the Nevada state line all day with no reopening in sight. To the north, State Route 49 is closed from Camptonville to Sierraville. Highway 50 is closed from Placerville to Meyers after "multiple spinouts," Caltrans said, with no estimated time of reopening.Roads all over the Sierra are currently considered dangerous for drivers, with low visibility, high winds and snow. Even on roads that are not closed, Truckee and Tahoe fire departments have been reporting spinouts throughout the weekend. If you must take to the roads, chains are required.