News ID: 98412
Publish Date : 01 January 2022 - 21:41

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – President Cyril Ramaphosa lauded the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu as “our moral compass and national conscience” as South Africa bade farewell at a state funeral on Saturday to a hero of the struggle against apartheid. “Our departed father was a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, the country of his birth, but around the world,” Ramaphosa said, delivering the main eulogy at the service in St. George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, where for years Tutu preached against racial injustice. The president then handed over the national flag to Tutu’s widow, Nomalizo Leah, known as “Mama Leah.” Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to white minority rule, died last Sunday aged 90. His widow sat in a wheelchair in the front row of the congregation, draped in a purple scarf, the color of her husband’s clerical robes. Ramaphosa wore a matching necktie. Cape Town, the city where Tutu lived for most of his later life, was unseasonably rainy early on Saturday as mourners gathered to bid farewell to the man fondly known as “The Arch.” Tutu’s body will be cremated and then his ashes interred behind the cathedral’s pulpit in a private ceremony. “Small in physical stature, he was a giant among us morally and spiritually,” said retired Bishop Michael Nuttall, who served as Tutu’s deputy for many years. Life-size posters of Tutu, with his hands clasped, were placed outside the cathedral, where the number of congregants was restricted in line with COVID-19 measures.

LONDON (Al Jazeera) – A total of 45 journalists were killed worldwide in 2021, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says, adding it was “one of the lowest death tolls” it had recorded for any year. The toll included nine in Afghanistan – the highest number suffered by a single country, eight in Mexico, four in India and three in Pakistan. “While this decrease is welcome news, it is small comfort in the face of continued violence,” IFJ said in a statement. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) gave a similar toll of 46 killings of journalists two weeks ago, also noting it as its lowest-ever since starting its tallies in 1995. The IFJ added that media workers “more often than not are killed for exposing corruption, crime and abuse of power in their communities, cities and countries”. Looking at the tally regionally, Asia Pacific was the deadliest, with 20 killings. The Americas followed as the second deadliest with 10. In third place was Africa with eight. Europe had six journalists killed, while the Middle East and Arab countries had just one. IFJ said “the risks associated with armed conflict have reduced in recent years” due to less journalists being able to report on the ground. It added however that “the threats of crime gang and drug cartels’ rule from the slums in Mexico to the streets of European cities in Greece and the Netherlands continue to increase”.

BEIJING (Al Jazeera) – China has reopened its embassy in Nicaragua, a few weeks after the Central American country switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing. That change was a political win for China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory. The announcement three weeks ago leaves Taiwan with just 14 diplomatic allies, even as Taipei strengthens ties with multiple unofficial Western friends including the United States. Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, speaking at a ceremony marking the reopening of the embassy, said: “You are welcome in our Nicaragua … with the certainty that both countries have ahead of us a future of successes and victories in our brotherly relations.” The new Chinese embassy will be under the orders of Yu Bu, who inaugurated it at the ceremony with Moncada and other officials including Laureano Ortega, a son of and adviser to President Daniel Ortega. In a virtual meeting with Moncada, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing welcomed and appreciated the right decision made by Nicaragua. The time and conditions were all there for it to happen, Wang was quoted by China Daily as saying.

KARACHI (Anadolu) – Longtime rivals India and Pakistan have exchanged the lists of their respective nuclear facilities and installations, Islamabad said on Saturday. The annual exchange took place in accordance with the agreement on “Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities” signed between the two nuclear neighbors in December 1988 and ratified in January 1991, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. India also said it exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities with Pakistan. “India and Pakistan today exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between India and Pakistan,” a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said. According to the agreement, both countries should inform each other of their nuclear installations and facilities on Jan. 1 of each year. This practice has been followed consecutively since 1992, the statements noted. Pakistan and India are among a few countries with nuclear arsenals. India joined the nuclear club long before Pakistan, in 1974, prompting Islamabad to follow suit. Pakistan silently developed its own nuclear capability in the 1980s, when it was an ally of the U.S. in the first Afghan war against the crumbling Soviet Union. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India currently possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan holds between 90 and 110.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A shooting inside the Mall of America left two people injured Friday and forced the mall into lockdown, Minnesota authorities said. Bloomington Police Department officials said the shooting happened about 4:30 p.m. Friday. Media reports showed New Year’s Eve shoppers screaming and running from the mall. Police said the lockdown was lifted by Friday evening and officers were no longer searching for a suspect inside. The mall remained closed. Police from Edina, Burnsville and Richfield responded to the shooting. No further information was immediately available.

PARIS (AFP) – A ban on the use of plastic to package a range of fruit and vegetables came into force in France on Saturday, to the dismay of the sector’s packaging industry. Environmentalists have long campaigned against single-use plastics as pollution worsens globally while President Emmanuel Macron has backed the move defending a “pragmatic” approach. The October decree covers for example the sale of under 1.5 kilos (3.3 lbs) of apples. However, the full legislation will not be applied until 2026, allowing firms to adapt, including on the sale of red fruits considered fragile. Six months has also been granted to use up existing plastic packaging stocks. “We were never consulted,” complained Laurent Grandin, head of the fruit and vegetable sector’s Interfel association. He told AFP the costs were “insurmountable” for small companies who would have to keep using plastic to protect exports, notably to Britain, a major client for apples. Big supermarket group Casino said it will now sell tomatoes in cardboard packaging and provide customers with paper or cellulose bags. The packaging companies say the October 8 decree caught them by surprise, particularly the ban on recycled plastics.

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