Pope Francis has called for reconciliation among fractured communities in his annual Christmas Day homily, presiding over a congregation of thousands at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The pope made the comments in his traditional Urbi et Orbi message, or “to the city and to the world.”
His message has global appeal in a year that saw the rise of the Islamic State group and a flood of outgoing refugees from the Middle East, sectarian conflict in Africa, terrorist attacks in western Europe and the United States, and humanitarian concerns in wealthy nations as refugees from violent conflict and economic distress sought safer, stabler places to live.
Speaking Friday to tens of thousands of worshipers gathered in St. Peter’s Square under a cloudless blue sky, he said, “Where God is born, hope is born.” VOA
Don’t forget to look up in the sky early Friday morning. No, not for Santa, who’ll be long gone — for the full moon, which peaks at 6:11 a.m. ET, according to NASA.
The last time there was a full moon Christmas Day was 1977, and it won’t happen again until 2034. December’s full moon is called the “cold moon” because, appropriately enough, “it is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark,” according to the Farmer’s Almanac. USA Today
A clear-up has begun after a violent storm left at least 14 people dead and destroyed homes in several US South and Midwest states on Christmas Eve. Mississippi was worst hit, with seven people dead, while six others were killed in Tennessee.
A seven-year-old boy, who was inside a car picked up and tossed in the storm, was among the dead.
At least 20 tornadoes have been reported, knocking down trees and leaving thousands without power.
Search teams have been combing through damaged buildings in the affected states, the situation complicated by the fact many people may be away for Christmas.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Lahore to meet with his Pakistani counterpart on a previously unannounced visit to Pakistan; the first visit to the rival neighbor by an Indian prime minister in more than a decade.
The two leaders first resumed high-level contact between the two nations with a brief conversation two weeks ago in Paris at an international climate conference. Relations between the nuclear neighbors have been strained for the entirety of Pakistan’s existence, after it split off from India in 1947, both gaining independence from Britain.
The two nations have fought three wars since then, two of them over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which is ruled in part by each but claimed in entirety by both. VOA
UK condemns Muslim Brotherhood
A powerful report by the U.K. government accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of being sympathetic to terrorists and a risk to British national security, striking a contrast with the Obama administration’s more conciliatory approach – and fueling criticism that the U.S. government should wake up to the threat.
“I think the report is a damning indictment of the Muslim Brotherhood, and it’s a very realistic assessment of the nature of the Brotherhood itself,” Nile Gardiner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, told FoxNews.com. “The British government has taken a far more serious approach compared to the Obama administration’s.”
The internal review of the Muslim Brotherhood was ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron in April 2014 and while the report is classified, Cameron ordered the main findings of the report to be made public.
Egypt’s military-backed government labeled the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in December 2013, a matter of months after the military helped topple the government of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. BBC
It is still illegal to buy alcohol at a liquor store on Sunday in Indiana. Indiana State that has some of the quirkiest and most forbidding liquor laws in the country, but one of them has been relaxed this year: For the first time in decades, stores and restaurants can sell alcohol on Christmas Day.
In July, a law went into effect that erased a longtime provision that banned the sale of alcohol on Dec. 25. But the law, which will be put to use for the first time on Friday, has set off a quiet rebellion among many Hoosiers who say they would like Indiana to buck a trend toward permissiveness across the country, where most states have overturned blue laws, coffee shops like Starbucks have begun selling wine and beer, and dispensaries have sprouted up to sell recreational marijuana.
Many people here have vowed not to buy or sell alcohol on Friday out of deference to tradition, religious beliefs or a determination that, in this culturally conservative state, some days ought to be kept sacred. The New York Times
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