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Pope Francis says violence against women insults God in New Year’s speech

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Pope Francis used his New Year’s message on Saturday to issue a clarion call for an end to violence against women, saying it was insulting to God.
Francis, 85, celebrated a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the day the Roman Catholic Church marks both the solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God as well as its annual World Day of Peace.

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Francis appeared to be in good form on Saturday following an unexplained incident on New Year’s Eve where he attended a service but at the last minute did not preside over it as he had been expected to.
At the start of the Mass on Saturday, he walked the entire length of the central aisle of basilica, as opposed to Friday night, when he emerged from a side entrance close to the altar and watched from the sidelines.
Francis suffers from a sciatica condition that causes pain in the legs, and sometimes a flare up prevents him from standing for long periods.
Francis wove his New Year’s homily around the themes of motherhood and women — saying it was they who kept together the threads of life — and used it to make one of his strongest calls yet for an end to violence against them.
“And since mothers bestow life, and women keep the world (together), let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” Francis said.
“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity.”
During an Italian television program last month, Francis told a woman who had been beaten by her ex-husband that men who commit violence against women engage in something that is “almost satanic.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly two years ago, Francis has several times spoken out against domestic violence, which has increased in many countries since lockdowns left many women trapped with their abusers.
Public participation at the Mass was lower than in some past years because of COVID restrictions. Italy, which surrounds Vatican City, reported a record 144,243 coronavirus related cases on Friday and has recently imposed new measures such as an obligation to wear masks outdoors.
In the text of his Message for the World Day of Peace, issued last month, Francis said nations should divert money spent on armaments to invest in education, and decried growing military costs at the expense of social services.
The annual peace message is sent to heads of state and international organizations, and the pope gives a signed copy to leaders who make official visits to him at the Vatican during the upcoming year.

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Lab monkeys escape after road crash in Pennsylvania

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The crash in Pennsylvania of a truck transporting 100 monkeys to a laboratory allowed four of them to escape, triggering a search by police who warned the public not to approach the animals.

The vehicle collided with a dump truck near Danville, Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon, en route to a laboratory in Florida.

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Police said on Twitter that four moneys had “fled the crash scene into the surrounding area.”

Three were later captured, but one was still on the loose on Saturday morning.

The local WNEP news site said a police helicopter with thermal cameras was used to track down the cynomolgus monkeys, while officers on the ground used powerful flashlights.

Pennsylvania State Police released an image of one primate perched in a tree off Route 54 during the freezing cold night.

A reporter said police surrounded the monkey before shots were fired from an unidentified weapon.

“Crash Update: There is still one monkey unaccounted for, but we are asking that no one attempt to look for or capture the animal,” police troopers said on Twitter on Saturday morning.

Cynomolgus monkeys – also known as long-tailed macaques – can cost up to $10,000 each and have been in demand for coronavirus vaccine research, according to the New York Times. They can live for 30 years in captivity.

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Adele postpones Las Vegas residency due to COVID-19 impact, delivery delays

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Adele has postponed a 24-date Las Vegas residency hours before it was to start, citing delivery delays and coronavirus illness in her crew.

The chart-topping British singer said she was “gutted” and promised to reschedule the shows.

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In a video message posted on social media, a tearful Adele said: “I’m so sorry but my show ain’t ready.”

“We’ve tried absolutely everything that we can to pull it together in time and for it to be good enough for you but we’ve been absolutely destroyed by delivery delays and COVID,” she said, adding that “half my team are down with” the virus.

Adele had been due to perform 24 shows at Caesars Palace Hotel starting Friday following the release of her fourth album, “30.”

In a tweet, Caesars Palace said it understood fans’ disappointment but added: “Creating a show of this magnitude is incredibly complex. We fully support Adele and are confident the show she unveils at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace will be extraordinary.”

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RAK arts festival celebrates 10th anniversary in February launch

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The Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF) will celebrate its 10th edition this year, under the theme ‘The Journey,’ a celebration of the annual event’s first decade and the first 50 years of the United Arab Emirates.

The annual arts festival – established under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah – will open to the public on Friday 4 February and run until Thursday, 31 March 2022.

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Artists will share their interpretations of what this theme means to them through the lens of ancestry, migration, national identity, and personal growth.

The historic Ras Al Khaimah pearling village of Al Jazirah Al Hamra will once again provide the central backdrop for the Festival, having been its home for the past three years and standing as a critical bridge between Ras Al Khaimah’s cultural heritage and contemporary art scene.

Satellite exhibition sites will also offer unique settings for different events including the public viewing deck of the UAE’s highest peak Jebel Jais and the Open Park on Al Marjan Island.

The free-to-attend outdoor art, photography, and sculpture exhibition will present a diverse collection of artworks from over 150 artists hailing from more than 45 countries. There will also be a vibrant program of film screenings, workshops, guided tours, and other events held across the Festival’s various locations.

The Festival’s Director, Suqrat bin Bisher, noted that despite the global pandemic hitting the event last year, it remained popular.

“After the success of last year’s Festival which played a truly important role in bringing the community together in spite of a global pandemic, we are excited to reach this 10th year in which we celebrate togetherness, humanity and Ras Al Khaimah’s role in the world of art and culture,” Bisher said.

“Our stunning natural landscape offers the perfect backdrop for open-air events from film to exhibitions in addition to helping us broaden the festival’s reach to those who may not otherwise have discovered us.”

Speaking ahead of the Festival’s opening next month, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, suggested that the 10th year of RAKRAF is a momentous occasion and a cause for great celebration, coinciding as it does with the UAE’s 51st year.

“Arts and culture are vital components in humanity’s ongoing pursuit of greater togetherness and tolerance, as these fields promote the virtues of dialogue, collaboration and understanding, which remain a constant means of uniting humanity. The festival provides a platform for artists from all over the world, as well as our local talent and community members, to come together in a unique location to converse, to forge bonds and to learn, all through the medium of art and culture,” he said.

All international standard COVID-19 safety guidelines are in place for RAKFAF.

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