Speaking before a crowd, Pope Francis has made a frightening prediction. With wars raging the world over, this may be our last Christmas.
Whatever your thoughts on prophecy or prediction, Pope Francis holds incredible influence over some one billion Catholics worldwide. He is after all, the successor to Peter, the first Pope and direct disciple of Jesus Christ. So when the Pope speaks his words have serious ramifications for the Church. Within the last couple years he has already caused controversy both within the Church and the broader Christian public surrounding his thoughts on climate change, homosexual rights, and wealth distribution, with many saying that his changes to long-held doctrine could lead to the end of the Catholic Church as we know it today.
In a solemn sermon at the Vatican, Pope Francis has announced that Christmas this year will be a "charade" due to the fact that the globe is currently engaging in World War 3.
"It's all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war," he said grimly.
During Mass at Casa Santa Maria the Pope then made a frightening prediction and one that would fulfill prophecy by suggesting that this year's Christmas celebrations may be our last:
We are close to Christmas. There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war," he said earlier in December.
The Pontiff, who turned 79 on Thursday, elaborated on his views this weekend, telling a crowd, "While the world starves, burns, and descends further into chaos, we should realise that this year's Christmas celebrations for those who choose to celebrate it may be their last".
Meanwhile, German police have warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that the inability to properly fingerprint so many crossing into the country, and otherwise control the border, means they have "no idea who enters the country, under what name, and for what reason," reports global news site Worldcrunch. Jörg Radek of the Police Trade Union wrote in a letter to Merkel that federal police are "not capable of exercising their duty of danger prevention and law enforcement at the German-Austrian borders the way they are legally bound to."
An article last week in the German newspaper Die Welt described how the self-proclaimed Islamic State now controls passport offices in parts of Iraq and Syria, leading Fabrice Leggeri, who heads the European Union's border control agency Frontex, to tell Die Welt that "the validity of refugee passports from our view is very limited."
Leggeri said it would be "wrong" to "impose a general suspicion" that refugees may be dangerous but that under current conditions in Syria there is no guarantee that passports "were actually issued by an official authority [are] really carried by the rightful owner." Fake documents are relatively easy to spot. The problem is with genuine Syrian passports that have been issued by ISIS.
Worldcrunch reported that an unidentifed source at the German Interior Ministry said, "Considering the large number of immigrants, it can't be ruled out that among them could be criminals [or] members of militant groups or terrorist organizations."
Turkish tanks on Tuesday pounded Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) targets in Cizre, a southeastern town at the heart of a military operation that the army said has killed 127 Kurdish militants in a week.
Black smoke rose from buildings in the town after shelling from hilltops and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) said at least 23 civilians had been killed in the violence.
Clashes have forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes in Sur, a historic district of Diyarbakir, which has been under curfew for three weeks, CNN Turk said, citing a report by the main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP).
Security forces launched a new offensive in the mainly Kurdish region last week after President Tayyip Erdogan pledged to root out militants.
Diyarbakir Mayor Gultan Kisanak criticised the tactics.
"Tanks and heavy weaponry, which are only used in conventional warfare, are being used by the Turkish armed forces, in areas where hundreds of thousands of civilians live," Kisanak said in a statement.
Dengue fever, the world's fastest growing mosquito-borne disease, has spread its wings and morphed from a tropical disease endemic in just nine countries to worldwide threat
Globalisation, urbanisation, climate change and jet travel have enabled it to move into more temperate zones.
Following are some basic facts:
- What is dengue fever ? -
Dengue fever is a flu-like infection caused by the flavivirus; it is in the same family as yellow fever.
Dengue fever has four separate strains -- DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4. Once cured, patients are protected for life, but only against the strain they were stricken by.
- How is the virus transmitted ? -
Dengue is transmitted by several subspecies of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which originate in Africa but which are now present in all tropical and subtropical areas.
Dengue can trigger a crippling fever along with headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, and skin rashes similar to measles.
- The most severe form -
The most severe form of the disease, dengue haemorrhagic fever, accounts for one percent of cases, killing 22,000 people a year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says. It results in bleeding and blood plasma leakage. It can be particularly fatal among children.
- How many cases ? -
The number of dengue cases has risen 30-fold over the last 50 years, according to the WHO, making it the world's fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease and leaving more than half of the global population at risk.
The WHO says that half a million people are hospitalised by the illness every year, many of them children; of that number, roughly 2.5 percent die.