World News at a Glance
Posted December 24, 2017 8:40 p.m. EST
Dozens Trapped and Feared Dead in Fire at Philippines Mall
Fire crews battling a blaze that tore through a shopping mall in Davao City, Philippines, trapping at least 37 people, pulled one body from the building, the mayor said on Sunday. But the vice mayor said there was “zero” chance of survival for the other 36. The cause of the fire remains unknown. The blaze erupted as city officials and emergency-relief workers were trying to rescue survivors of flash floods and landslides unleashed by Tropical Storm Tembin elsewhere. The storm slammed into the eastern portion of Mindanao late Thursday. By Sunday, that death toll stood at 231, officials said.
Pope Francis Puts Focus on Refugees in Christmas Eve
Pope Francis on Sunday used the Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to focus on refugees and migrants, drawing a parallel between their travails and that of the holy family. Recalling that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a manger because “there was no place for them in the inn,” Francis highlighted the biblical story in a present day in which the White House has restricted travel for people from predominantly Muslim countries, the Myanmar military has carried out a vicious campaign against a stateless Rohingya minority, and wars, human trafficking and indifference have resulted in millions more refugees.
North Korea Calls UN Sanctions an ‘Act of War’
North Korea on Sunday called the latest round of United Nations sanctions an “act of war,” and reminded the U.S. that the North posed a “substantial nuclear threat to the U.S. mainland.” Under the new sanctions, fuel supplies will be drastically cut, and roughly 100,000 North Koreans working in other countries will be expelled within two years. The sanctions are intended to hurt North Korea in two vital ways: Cutting refined petroleum imports by 89 percent would exacerbate the country’s fuel crisis, and expelling foreign guest workers would substantially reduce remittances, an important source of hard currency.
Taken From Ukraine’s War Zone, Grenades Are Used in Crimes, Too
After nearly four years of war with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, the spread of weapons stolen from the army has led to an increase in gun violence unusual for a European country. It has also led to something new and more disturbing: Hand grenades are turning up in a variety of crimes, including domestic violence and bank robbery. Arms experts say it is no surprise that more and more grenades are leaking from the war zone. Hand grenades are easy to hide and hard to keep a good accounting of in combat situations.
One Target in Beijing’s Migrant Crackdown: Schoolchildren
Beijing is in the midst of one of the most aggressive campaigns in recent history to drive out rural migrants, evicting thousands from their homes and leveling neighborhoods in scenes that evoke the devastation of war. The crackdown has also increasingly taken aim at schools that have sprung up to serve migrant families, advocates say, targeting children who already live on the margins of society. Educators say that more than a dozen schools have been shut down or demolished this year, often with just a few days’ notice, cutting off access to education for as many as 15,000 children.
Married, in Ireland, for the Tax Break
This week, Ireland was stirred by the story of two men in Dublin who, three days before Christmas, married for tax reasons. Michael O’Sullivan, 58, and Matt Murphy, 82. The two men are close friends, though they have never been romantically or sexually involved. Murphy, a retiree, owns a small house, but his eyesight is failing and he cannot afford to pay for home care. O’Sullivan had lost his work and his apartment in the recent recession. "He said, ‘You need somewhere to live, and I need someone to take care of me,'” O’Sullivan recalled. “Why don’t we join forces?”
How Do You Keep an Elephant Warm? Knit a Giant Blanket
An unexpected cold front from China that descended on parts of Southeast Asia this past week hit the Winga Baw camp for orphaned elephants in Myanmar, according to Sangdeaun Lek Chailert, the founder of a nonprofit dedicated to protecting Asian elephants. But the camp also had a secret weapon: giant knitted and crocheted blankets. They were donated by Blankets for Baby Rhinos, a craft group comprising 1,500 knitters and crocheters around the globe. When the blankets arrived at the Winga Baw camp, Chailert said, “all seven babies, they loved it.” Chailert’s organization shared photographs on Facebook of the swaddled elephants.