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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Intimate Tone Marks Benedict’s Final Words as Pope

Pope Benedict XVI struck a surprisingly intimate tone during his final public remarks before leaving the papacy on Thursday. Speaking in Italian before an estimated 150,000 people massed in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict said that the ministry had been “a great weight”. He added that it “”was a part of the journey of the church that has had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy” and that he often felt like “St. Peter and the apostles in the boat on the Sea of ​​Galilee”. He went on to say that “the Lord has given us many days of sunshine and a light breeze, the days when the fishing is plentiful. But there were also times when the water was rough and the Lord seemed to be sleeping”. He ended his remarks by asking those assembled to pray for the cardinals during the conclave and wished his successor “the light and the power” during his upcoming papacy.

Shooting Highlights Issue of Gun Ownership in Switzerland

Three factory workers were killed and another seven injured at a shooting in a timber processing plant in the village of Menznau, northwest of Lucerne, on Wednesday. Shooting broke out in the plant’s canteen in the morning. “The workers were eating a snack in the cafeteria during the morning and there was a massacre” said a witness to Swiss news site 20minutes. The shooting highlights the issue of gun ownership in Switzerland. Estimates from 2011 put the number of firearms in circulation in the country to be between 1.2 and 2.3 million. Switzerland has a population of nearly eight million and guns are routinely issued to soldiers who complete their compulsory military service. Keeping these weapons is a tradition and is believed to help in the mobilisation should the country enter a conflict. Active members of the armed services are not allowed to store munitions, but army-issue weapons are said to be involved in a number of mass shootings in the country.

North Korea Accuses US of Creating Tension, Tells South Korea to ‘Keep Quiet’

North Korea accused the US on Wednesday of creating a tense situation in the Korean peninsula. Speaking at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Ambassador So Se Pyong said that the US was “to blame for the situation on the Korean peninsula which is inching close to an unpredictable phase now”. His words come a week after a member of his delegation threatened South Korea with “final destruction” at the same talks. Although US ambassador Laura Kennedy declined to reply to this latest threat, South Korean ambassador Kwon Hae Ryong urged his northern neighbour to “abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace”. His suggestion was immediately rebuked by North Korean ambassador So, who said that South Korea should “keep quiet and pay more attention to your own concerns”. The talks in Geneva, involving the two Koreas, the US, Russia and Japan are aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

Level of Excess Drinking in England is ‘Underestimated’

The amount of alcohol consumed by drinkers in England is higher than previously thought, according to researchers at the University College London. They compared sales figures with surveys asking people how much they drank, finding that almost half of the alcohol sold was unnacounted for. Their findings suggest that three-quarters of those surveyed may be drinking above the recommended limits. Part of the problem, according to the researchers, was that drinkers were not willing to admit or accurately tally how much they had been drinking. “The results are putative, but they show that this gap between what is seen in the surveys and sales potentially has enormous implications for public health in England”, said Sadie Boniface, lead author of the study. The current recommendation set by the Chief Medical Officers in the UK is that men should not exceed four units a day, while women should drink up to three units a day. A unit is roughly equivalent to half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine.

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