Pope denies doomsday
Pope Benedict XVI called on Christians on Sunday not to heed doomsday warnings that the world will end on Dec. 21. Several films and documentaries have promoted the idea that the ancient Mayan calendar predicts that doomsday is next month, on Dec. 21. However, Benedict said that Jesus “does not describe the end of the world, and when he uses apocalyptic images, he is not acting the prophet. On the contrary, he wants to stop his disciples of every epoch from being curious over dates, forecasts, and wants to give them the key to ... the right road to walk today and tomorrow to enter into the eternal life.”
Ferry passengers brawl
Two British passengers on a Dutch-bound ferry were airlifted to hospital in a serious condition after two separate fights onboard, including one over a slice of pizza, Dutch police said on Sunday. The incidents happened on the Pride of Rotterdam on an overnight trip from Hull in England to Rotterdam, the world’s fifth-largest port. The first incident happened around midnight when a 25-year-old Briton allegedly snatched a slice of pizza from another, sparking an argument. Two Britons, aged 23 and 27, were arrested in connection with the fight upon arrival in Rotterdam. In a second incident at about 3am on Sunday, four British men got into a fight in which an 18-year-old teen was stabbed in the neck with a piece of glass. A 26-year-old man and two other 18-year-olds were arrested on arrival in port, police said.
MOD defends pig shooting
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) on Sunday defended its practice of shooting pigs and giving the wounded animals to military surgeons to practice treating common battlefield injuries. Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokesperson Klare Kennett said the training exercises, which take place twice a year in Denmark, were “abhorrent and shocking.” The ministry said the training gave surgeons “invaluable experience” and “helped save lives on operations.” The animals are heavily anesthetized before being shot at close range “to damage organs, but not kill the animals,” and are then operated on before being killed humanely, the ministry said. Animal rights campaigners said that life-like human simulator devices are more effective for medical training than live animals. The courses, which were suspended in 1998, were reinstated after a government-commissioned study found that “no equally effective alternative” existed.
Bond actor supports troops
James Bond actor Daniel Craig on Sunday surprised British servicemen at the Camp Bastion base in Afghanistan when he dropped in for a visit shortly before a screening of his new film Skyfall. Craig introduced the film to the 800 troops and then toured the camp, met soldiers and hospital patients before firing off some machine-gun rounds at the heavy weapons range, a Ministry of Defence statement said. “We get quite a lot of visitors here, but having James Bond was special,” soldier Rob Ingham said. The critically acclaimed new Bond movie swept North American box offices last week, taking in US$88.4 million in its first weekend of release, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “It was great for morale and the atmosphere in the tent when we were watching the film was buzzing,” soldier Shane Awbery said. “The film was really good too.”