Entertainment Featured News Jamaica World News

“WorldStarHipHop. Com” Founder “Q” Dead at “43” In Massage Parlor

California, USA (McN) – Founder of the worldwide influential online magazine for Hip Hop, Lee O’Denat, passed away on Monday January 24, 2017.

Leee O’Denat, 43- year-old known as Q, the founder of the website — which became a warehouse of hip-hop music videos, entertainment news and viral videos of drugs, sex, fights, drama and more — died suddenly on Monday in San Diego.

According the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office,  O’Denat was at massage parlor — in a San Diego shopping center when he became unresponsive.

Paramedics arrived at the massage parlor and tried to revive him with CPR, but he was pronounced dead at 5:30 p.m.

As per the coroners office — the cause of death is coronary heart disease, with obesity considered a contributing factor.

As per officials at WorldStarHipHop, the website will continue to operate.

Featured News Jamaica World News

Samsung blames Galaxy Note 7 fires on faulty batteries

Company says efforts to increase phone’s battery life caused device to catch fire prompting an estimated $5.3bn recall.

Samsung has embarked on a campaign to restore its battered reputation [Reuters]
Smartphone giant Samsung has blamed faulty batteries for the fires that hit its flagship Galaxy Note 7 device last year, as it sought to draw a line under a damaging scandal.

The South Korean company was forced to discontinue the smartphone, originally intended to compete with Apple’s iPhone, after a chaotic recall that saw replacement devices also catching fire.

The debacle cost the company billions in lost profit and reputation.

Internal and independent investigations “concluded that batteries were found to be the cause of the Note 7 incidents”, Samsung said in a statement on Monday.

“We sincerely apologise for the discomfort and concern we have caused to our customers,” said Koh Dong-jin, the head of its mobile business, bowing before hundreds of reporters and cameramen at a press conference.

“We wanted to increase the battery capacity as much as possible. Our battery suppliers, in order to meet our needs, applied new designs and manufacturing technologies. Conclusively speaking, the cause of the Galaxy Note 7 burning incident was in the batteries.”

In September 2016, Samsung announced a recall of the oversized Galaxy Note 7 after several devices exploded or caught fire, with the company blaming batteries from a supplier.

When replacement phones – with batteries from another firm – also started to combust, the company decided to kill off the Note 7 for good.

In total, 3.1 million devices were recalled, as authorities around the world banned the device from use on planes and even from being placed in checked luggage.

The cost of the recall is estimated at $5.3bn.

Samsung has since embarked on a campaign to restore its battered reputation, issuing repeated apologies and putting full-page advertisements in US newspapers, admitting it “fell short” on its promises.

Analysts said Samsung was looking to move on through the announcement, which did not implicate other devices.

“Consumers tend to be forgiving the first time,” Tom Kang, research director at Counterpoint Technology, told AFP news agency.

“But if it happens again, it will leave a lasting mark on Samsung’s quality and brand image.”

Samsung had concentrated on innovative design, thinness and battery capacity rather than safety, he said.

Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from South Korea’s capital, Seoul, said the “key test of consumer confidence” will come with this year’s launch of its next flagship handset: Galaxy S8.

The expected unveiling of the new phone at next month’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, has reportedly been delayed to ensure it had no safety problems.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies


Politics World News

Trump becomes 45th President of the United States

Washington (CNN)Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States on Friday, vowing to drain power from Washington elites and always put “America first” in its dealings with the world at a moment of transformative political change.

He arrived at the White House for the first time as President just before 5 p.m. ET following a day of tradition marking the power shift in the nation’s capital.

In a time-honored ceremony on the flag-draped West Front of the Capitol earlier in the afternoon, Trump placed his left hand on a family Bible and another that belonged to Abraham Lincoln and promised to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. As light rain began to fall on a crowd stretching toward the Washington Monument, Trump took the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts with the new first lady, Melania, by his side.

President Trump signs first bill into law

Trump’s inaugural address centered on the themes that animated his stunning outsider campaign, which shattered political conventions and gave voice to heartland voters who felt badly let down by professional politicians.

Though he paid tribute to outgoing President Barack Obama, the President sketched a vision of America that came across as a repudiation of the last administration. He promised to restore the nation’s strength and purpose and to rebuild it from within, vowing to “bring back” American jobs, borders, wealth and dreams.


(CNN) Trump Shakes Hand with MLK III
 The customs and symbolism that are playing out — from Trump’s ride to the Capitol with Obama to the first couple’s dance at an inaugural ball — are familiar. But the circumstances of this inauguration — the 58th in the nation’s history — could hardly be more unconventional.
Everything you need to know about Trump’s inauguration, weekend protests
When the presidential primary season began nearly a year ago, few thought Trump could survive the battle for the Republican nomination — much less beat Clinton to win the presidency. He was the oldest president sworn in for a first term and the first president with no previous diplomatic, political or military executive experience.

In what is always a poignant moment, the former President Obama and his wife left Capitol Hill on a helicopter bound for Joint Base Andrews for a farewell ceremony before taking one last flight on the presidential jet. The Obamas are heading to Palm Springs, California, for a vacation.

Trump attended a joint congressional inaugural luncheon in the Capitol before heading back to the White House for the inaugural parade. Halfway along Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump’s vehicle stopped and the new first couple walked hand in hand past the cheering crowds. By the time the motorcade approached the new Trump hotel, the President was back in the hulking car.

In the evening, Trump and the new first lady will attend two inaugural balls, part of the stripped-down inaugural festivities that aides say are meant to stress that the new president is eager to get to work.

Supporters excited; others concerned

Trump’s supporters, who sent him to Washington to rip up political norms and thwart the establishment, are thrilled as he assumes power. The crowds started streaming toward the National Mall as dawn broke, with many people wearing Trump’s distinctive red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps.

Day One: Trump says he will sign ‘very meaningful’ documents amid talk of executive orders

But millions of Americans are also anxious, owing to the abrasive tone of Trump’s campaign and fears over the consequences of his strongman leadership style.
Trump has vowed to tear up US trade deals that he says disadvantage US workers, confront a rising China and improve estranged relations with Russia, despite allegations that Moscow interfered in the election. He has set high expectations for his presidency by promising to return jobs to US shores and reviving the manufacturing industry. He has pledged to crush ISIS and introduce tough new vetting on immigrants from countries where there is terrorist activity, raising fears of discrimination against Muslims.

Trump is promising to build a wall on the southern border, to crack down on undocumented migrants and to gut the financial and environmental regulations that are at the center of the Obama administration’s legacy.

New presidents typically use the inaugural address — viewed by a huge crowd fanned out on the National Mall and millions of television viewers — to issue a call for national unity and ease the wounds of divisive elections. They typically remind Americans of the values and the history that binds them and of the nation’s historic mission.

Trump, so far, has done little to reach out to his foes since November.

“He is still talking as if he is the insurgent candidate rather than the President-elect,” said Robert Rowland, an expert on presidential rhetoric at the University of Kansas. “Historically, presidents who are effective use inaugural addresses to heal the wounds of the campaign, to talk about what it means to be an American, to discuss shared values and lay out their political principles to come across as a strong not vain leader.”

CNN’s Kevin Liptak and Sara Murray contributed to this story
Sports World News

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

“Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,” Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. “Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves.”

“It is a game and celebration,” he said, and noted that “there’s a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here.” Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball’s color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn’t consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as “all talk” and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as “my fellow 44.” Obama is the nation’s 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs:

“Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs’ No. 1 fan.”

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

 Darlene Superville, Associated Press

Crime Featured News Jamaica World News

Dylann Roof sentenced to death for killing 9 church members

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — An unrepentant Dylann Roof was sentenced to death Tuesday for fatally shooting nine black church members during a Bible study session, becoming the first person ordered executed for a federal hate crime.

A jury deliberated for about three hours before returning with the decision, capping a trial in which the 22-year-old avowed white supremacist did not fight for his life or show any remorse. He served as his own attorney during sentencing and never asked for forgiveness or mercy or explained the massacre.

Hours earlier, Roof threw away one last chance to plead for his life, telling jurors, “I still feel like I had to do it.”

The slain included the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church pastor and a state senator, as well as other pillars of the community: a high school track coach, the church sexton, a librarian and an aspiring poet. They all shared deep devotion to the church, known as Mother Emanuel, and passed that faith along to their families, many of whom offered Roof forgiveness when he appeared in court just days after the attack.

As Roof spoke Tuesday for about five minutes, every juror looked directly at him. A few nodded as he reminded them that they said during jury selection they could fairly weigh the factors of his case. Only one of them, he noted, had to disagree to spare him from a lethal injection.

“I have the right to ask you to give me a life sentence, but I’m not sure what good it would do anyway,” he said.

When the verdict was read, he stood stoic. Several family members of victims wiped away quiet tears.

Roof told FBI agents when they arrested him after the June 17, 2015, slayings that he wanted the shootings to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war. Instead, the slayings had a unifying effect, as South Carolina removed the Confederate flag from its Statehouse for the first time in more than 50 years. Other states followed suit, taking down Confederate banners and monuments. Roof had posed with the flag in photos.

Malcolm Graham, whose sister Cynthia Hurd was slain, said the jury made the right decision.

“There is no room in America’s smallest jail cell for hatred, racism and discrimination,” he said from his home in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The journey for me and my family today has come to an end.”

One of Hurd’s other brothers, Melvin Graham, said the jury’s decision “was a very hollow victory” because his sister is still gone.

“He decided the day, the hour and minute my sister was going to die. Now someone is going to do it for him,” he said.

Roof specifically selected Emanuel AME Church, the South’s oldest black church, to carry out the cold, calculated slaughter, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson said.

The 12 people he targeted opened the door for a stranger with a smile, he said. Three people survived the attack.

“They welcomed a 13th person that night … with a kind word, a Bible, a handout and a chair,” Richardson said during his closing argument. “He had come with a hateful heart and a Glock .45.”

The gunman sat with the Bible study group for about 45 minutes. During the final prayer — when everyone’s eyes were closed — he started firing. He stood over some of the fallen victims, shooting them again as they lay on the floor, Richardson said.

The prosecutor reminded jurors about each one of the victims and the bloody scene that Roof left in the church’s lower level.

Nearly two dozen friends and relatives of the victims testified during the sentencing phase of the trial. They shared cherished memories and talked about a future without a mother, father, sister or brother. They shed tears, and their voices shook, but none of them said whether Roof should face the death penalty.

The prosecutor reminded jurors that Clementa Pinckney would be remembered for singing goofy songs and watching cartoons with his young daughters. In a sign of perhaps how important that testimony was, jurors re-watched a speech by Pinckney in which he talked about the history of Emanuel and its mission.

The jury convicted Roof last month of all 33 federal charges he faced, including hate crimes. He never explained his actions to jurors, saying only that “anyone who hates anything in their mind has a good reason for it.”

Roof insisted that he was not mentally ill and did not call any witnesses or present any evidence.

In one of his journals, he wrote that he did not believe in psychology, calling it “a Jewish invention” that “does nothing but invent diseases and tell people they have problems when they don’t.”

His attorneys said he did not want to present any evidence that might embarrass him or his family.

After he was sentenced, Roof asked a judge to appoint him new attorneys, but the judge said he was not inclined to do so because they had performed “admirably.”

“We are sorry that, despite our best efforts, the legal proceedings have shed so little light on the reasons for this tragedy,” the attorneys said in a veiled reference to the mental health issues they wanted to present.

A judge will formally sentence him during a hearing Wednesday. Roof also faces a death penalty trial in state court.

The last person sent to federal death row was Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in 2015.

 Associated Press Writer Alex Sanz contributed to this report.


Business World News

Samsung shows off electric car battery that gives a 310 mile range on a 20 minute charge

Samsung has unveiled a battery that can give electric cars a driving range of up to 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) on a 20 minute charge, promoting technology that could be key to the future of autonomous driving.

The South Korean conglomerate’s battery division known as Samsung SDI (Korea Stock Exchange: 640-KR), announced the cell on Monday, and said it can offer a complete driving range of up to 600 kilometers. A 20-minute charge will give the battery 80 percent capacity, allowing for a 500 km range.

“This means that only 20 minutes in the highway rest area will be enough for a battery to be charged, eliminating the range anxiety of electric vehicle drivers,” Samsung SDI said in a press release, adding that mass production of the cell is slated for 2021.

One of the pain points for electric vehicles currently is the availability of charging stations and the frequency of charging. Samsung’s battery technology could change that.

But it could also benefit driverless cars – also electric – with major automakers and technology firms talking about this new industry in the same timeframe which Samsung said it will begin mass production of the battery.

Samsung’s claim of 310.7 miles on a 20-minute charge is ahead of what is currently on the market. For example, Tesla owners can use one of the company’s superchargers to get a 170-mile range in 30 minutes.

But Tesla and Panasonic are currently working together on battery technology and have kicked off production of the 2,170 cell to be used in the carmakers Powerwall 2 and Powerpack 2 products, as well as the Model 3 car. Samsung is likely to face stiff competition from Tesla and Panasonic in the battery space

 Arjun Kharpal via Yahoo News

Featured News Jamaica Politics World News

‘Yes We Did,’ Obama Says in Farewell Address, but Warns of Threats to Democracy

“Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can.”

With these words, President Obama wrapped up the farewell remarks of his presidency with the same soaring rhetoric of hope that he rode into the White House eight years ago.

He took the opportunity of the speech to a crowd in his adopted hometown of Chicago to thank to the American people for the opportunity to serve as president for two terms.

“Every day, I learned from you,” he said. “You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.”

He made mention of some of his key accomplishments and thanked those who have stood by his side through the past eight years, especially his family, for which he offered an emotional tribute, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and the military.

But Obama, who spoke to a crowd of approximately 18,000, according to the White House, also used the speech to issue a warning about the fragility of democracy. He specifically identified race relations, income inequality and the state of political discourse as threats to the fabric of the republic.

On the issue of race, Obama acknowledged the significant progress that’s been made in recent decades but said that it remains an often “divisive force in our society” and noted there was an unrealistic idea after his election that we had entered a “postracial America.”

“If we’re going to be serious about race, going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination — in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change,” Obama said.

“For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face — not only the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American but also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural and technological change,” Obama said.

“For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s, that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness, that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment but the equal treatment our Founders promised,” he continued.

He warned that “stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic ideas.”

“While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind — the laid-off factory worker, the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills — convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful. That’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics,” he said.

The Obama Legacy: A Promise of Hope

Obama scolded a tendency in modern political discourse that encourages partisanship and divisions over compromise.

“In the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.”

In giving a final speech, Obama continued in a tradition started by George Washington in 1796 and followed by many outgoing presidents since. President George W. Bush gave a farewell speech eight years ago from the East Room of the White House.

Good Morning America


Politics World News

Mexico warns Trump on tariffs: We’ll respond ‘immediately’

Mexico’s economy minister sent Donald Trump a fighting message: We will retaliate right away if you hit us with a “major border tax.”

“It’s very clear that we have to be prepared to immediately be able to neutralize the impact of a measure of that nature,” economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Friday on a Mexican news show.

 Guajardo also predicted that Trump’s threat of a 35% tariff against Mexico, if carried out, would result in a “global recession” because it would inhibit companies from producing outside the U.S

“It would be a problem for the entire world,” Guajardo warned. A Trump tariff “will have a wave of impacts that can take us into a global recession,” Guajardo said, speaking in Spanish.

In recent weeks, Trump has zeroed in on companies manufacturing in Mexico and selling products in the United States, threatening them with a “major border tax” of 35%.

In tweets, Trump has singled out GM and Toyota as potential targets, though he indicated in a December tweet the tax would apply to all businesses, not just automakers.

And during his first press conference Wednesday since winning the election, Trump doubled down on his threat.

“There will be a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder,” Trump said Wednesday.

Guajardo noted that Toyota has extensive U.S. operations and employs a lot of American workers.

“If I were Mr. Trump, I’d treat them with more respect,” Guajardo said.

Trump’s economic advisers have said they will use the threat of tariffs to get a better trade deal with Mexico. They’ve indicated renegotiating NAFTA, the free trade deal between Canada, Mexico and the U.S., is a Day 1 priority. Mexico’s President, Enrique Pena Nieto, said he’s open to “modernizing” NAFTA.

Mexico heavily depends on trade with the United States to drive its economy and create jobs. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico.

Trade experts on both sides of the border warn that stiff tariffs would risk jobs in both countries.

Guajardo didn’t say exactly how Mexico would hit back.

“There are ways — it’s very clear how — to take a fiscal action that clearly neutralizes it,” Guajardo said.

Trump’s threats have already weighed on Mexico. The peso plunged after the election and remains near an all-time low. Mexico’s central bank dimmed its economic forecast this year, citing the U.S. election outcome.

CNNMoney (New York)

Crime Featured News Jamaica World News

Teen to Reunite With Birth Parents After Allegedly Being Abducted By Woman She Thought Was Her Mom

Family and friends are shocked that the child that Gloria Williams raised since she was a baby is not her own as the teen waits to reunite with her birth parents.

Williams, 51, allegedly abducted Kamiyah Mobley, whose name is now Alexis Manigo, when she was just 8-hours old after posing as a nurse on July 10, 1998, according to officials.

Williams allegedly walked out of Shanara Mobley’s hospital room at Jacksonville’s University Medical Center after telling Mosley that Kamiyah had a fever and needed to be examined, according to police. She was never seen again.

Williams had suffered a miscarriage about a week before she drove the three hours from South Carolina to Florida and allegedly took Manigo, according to police.

Manigo, 18, was identified earlier this week through a DNA test after two leads led police to South Carolina where Manigo was living with Williams, according to police.

Though Manigo had a different name, detectives learned that her identity was established with fraudulent documents and they collected a DNA sample to be tested against the missing newborn’s DNA available at the hospital, according to reports.

Williams, who reportedly has two biological children of her own, is awaiting extradition to Jacksonville, Florida, for charges of kidnapping and interference with custody, which means she could face life in prison if convicted.

Manigo reportedly thought that Williams was her biological mother until Friday morning when police gave her the news. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the teen has a lot to process.

“She’s taking it as well as you can imagine… She has a lot think about, as you can imagine,” Sheriff Williams said.

Williams reportedly blew a kiss to Manigo in court on Friday and the teen responded with “I love you, Mom” after the pair were allowed to spend a few moments together through a mesh screen in the Colleton County Jail in South Carolina, according to News4Jax.

Since the news, Manigo has been able  to FaceTime with Shanara and her father Craig Aiken, who both cried ‘tears of joy’ after a detective told them their child had been found.

Her family is planning to drive to South Carolina on Saturday morning to reunite with Manigo, according to reports.

Read: Baby Kidnapped From Florida Hospital in 1998 is Found Living in South Carolina With Alleged Abductor

Williams’ aunt, Susan Alls, told the News4Jax that she refuses to believe that the teen doesn’t belong to Williams.

“I don’t think it’s true,” Alls said. “There has to be something going on with the DNA, whatever they did.”

Ruben Boatright, who has reportedly known the family for more than a decade, told the station that he is shocked about the allegations.

“I’ve seen Alexis grow up. “I’ve seen her in church and in the community. She’s very well read, very mannerly, disciplined,” Boatright said. “The family is a good family. You don’t want to think bad thoughts of anyone in your family, and that she would do something like that. But then it’s right there staring you in the face. So you don’t know what to say or do.”

 Maya Chung (Yahoo News)

Politics World News

Pope to diplomats: when it comes to politics, peace must be more than a theory

.- Following a year marred by war and terrorism, Pope Francis told diplomats Monday that for 2017, peace has to be more than just an idea or a nice theory, but must be actively pursued with concrete policies aimed at promoting the common good and the dignity of the human person.

Pope Francis speaks to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See Jan. 11, 2015. Credit: L’Osservatore Romano

“Peace is a positive good…it is more than the absence of war. Nor can it be reduced to the maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces,” the Pope said Jan. 9. Instead, peace “demands the commitment of those persons of good will who thirst for an ever more perfect reign of justice.”

While some nations seem to take for granted long periods of peace enjoyed since the close of the First World War, for millions of others peace “remains merely a distant dream.”

“Millions of people still live in the midst of senseless conflicts,” he said, noting that we are frequently bombarded “by images of death, by the pain of innocent men, women and children,” as well as by the grief of those who have lost loved ones due to violence and the “drama” of forced migration.

In the current global climate of fear, apprehension, uncertainty and anxiety for both the present and future, “a word of hope” is needed, he said, which is capable of indicating a path on which to move forward.

Pope Francis spoke to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See as part of his traditional exchange of New Year’s greetings with the diplomats. There are currently 182 ambassadors of other countries to the Holy See, 88 of whom reside in Rome.

Pope Frances

For the Pope, part of the peace-building process means eradicating the causes of violence and injustice, one of which is the “deplorable arms trade and the never-ending race to create and spread ever more sophisticated weaponry,” which he has frequently condemned.

In his speech, Francis said that one “particularly disturbing” example of negative effects of the arms trade “are the experiments being conducted on the Korean Peninsula.”

The nuclear tests that are continually being conducted there “destabilize the entire region and raise troubling questions for the entire international community about the risk of a new nuclear arms race,” he said.

Quoting St. John XXIII, the Pope stressed that “justice, right reason and the recognition of human dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race.”

“The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round by the parties concerned. Nuclear weapons must be banned,” he said, adding that the Holy See seeks to promote “an ethics of peace and security that goes beyond that fear and closure which condition the debate on nuclear weapons.”

Francis also threw in what seemed to be a plug for tighter gun control. Turning to the sale of conventional weapons, he said that easy access to arms, “including those of small caliber,” not only “aggravates various conflicts, but also generates a widespread sense of insecurity and fear.”

“This is all the more dangerous in times, like our own, of social uncertainty and epochal changes,” he said.

On the topic of different forms of fundamentalism that have gripped the global scene over the past year, the Pope said that when it comes to religion,

“every expression of religion is called to promote peace.”

“There has been no shortage of acts of religiously motivated violence, beginning with Europe itself, where the historical divisions between Christians have endured all too long,” he said, noting that healing the wounds of the past means above all “journeying together toward common goals” on a path of genuine dialogue.

However, he noted that “sadly” religion has been used as “a pretext for rejection, marginalization and violence.”

Over the past year, fundamentalist terrorism “has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world,” he said, pointing to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey as just a few examples.

“We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power,” the Pope said, renewing his appeal for all religious authorities “to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name.”

“Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty,” he said, noting that the only way for it to be fully defeated is with “the joint contribution of religious and political leaders.”

Pope Francis insisted that political authorities ought to focus not just on the security of their own citizens, “a concept which could easily be reduced to a mere ‘quiet life,’” but are also concerned with working “actively” for the growth of peace on a global level.

Peace, he said, “is an active virtue, one that calls for the engagement and cooperation of each individual and society as a whole.”

Turning to the Jubilee of Mercy, Francis said part of building “a culture of mercy” means eliminating indifference and striving to become societies that “are open and welcoming toward foreigners and at the same time internally secure and at peace.”

“This is all the more needed at the present time, when massive waves of migration continue in various parts of the world,” he said, calling for a “common commitment” to offering migrants and displaced persons “a dignified welcome.”

On the topic of migrants, the Pope stressed that respect must be given both right of every person to migrate while at the same time ensuring that incoming foreigners are fully integrated into their new society without feeling “their security, cultural identity and political-social stability are threatened.”

However, he also said incoming migrants must “not forget that they have a duty to respect the laws, culture and traditions of the countries in which they are received.”

For public authorities to have prudence “does not mean enacting policies of exclusion vis-à-vis migrants,” but rather entails “evaluating, with wisdom and foresight, the extent to which their country is in a position, without prejudice to the common good of citizens, to offer a decent life to migrants, especially those truly in need of protection,” he said.

The issue of migration isn’t one that just some countries have to face while others are indifferent, he said, stressing that “all should feel responsible” for pursuing international policies aimed at promoting solidarity and the common good.

Pope Francis then voiced his thanks to the countries who have taken on the bulk of the burden of the migration crisis, naming Italy, Germany, Greece and Sweden in particular.

He called for a quick and peaceful resolution to the “brutal conflict” in Syria, asking the international community “to make every effort to encourage serious negotiations for an end to the conflict, which is causing a genuine human catastrophe.”

“Each of the parties must give priority to international humanitarian law, and guarantee the protection of civilians and needed humanitarian aid for the populace,” he said, voicing his hope that the recently-signed truce “will be a sign of hope for the whole Syrian people, so greatly in need of it.”

The Pope also urged swift resolutions to the conflicts in Ukraine, Iran and Yemen, and renewed his appeal for Israel and Palestine to resume dialogue aimed at “a stable and enduring solution that guarantees the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

“No conflict can become a habit impossible to break. Israelis and Palestinians need peace. The whole Middle East urgently needs peace!”

Francis closed his speech saying peace is “a gift, a challenge and a commitment.” True peace, he said, “can only come about on the basis of a vision of human beings capable of promoting an integral development respectful of their transcendent dignity.”

“This, then, is my prayerful hope for the year just begun: that our countries and their peoples may find increased opportunities to work together in building true peace.”

He reaffirmed the commitment on the part of the Holy See and the Secretariat of State, saying they will “always be ready to cooperate with those committed to ending current conflicts and to offer support and hope to all who suffer.”

News by Elise Harris

Catholic News Agency