The Zimbabwe Independent

It’s a weird world

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„ SANTA ON HIS WAY, VACCINATED Santa Claus, vaccinated against Covid-19 and free of quarantine restrictio­ns mere mortals face, was making his annual jaunt across the globe on Christmas Eve and being tracked by the United States and Canadian military, officials said on Christmas eve.

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, said Santa was vaccinated against Covid-19 and could travel without risk of infection.

“I took a trip up there to the North Pole. I went there and I vaccinated Santa Claus myself,” Fauci said during Sesame Street’s coronaviru­s town hall meeting on CNN this week. “He is good to go.”

Vermont governor Phil Scott lifted his state’s quarantine restrictio­ns for Santa, and the governors of New Jersey and New Mexico awarded Santa “essential worker” status.

For the 65th year, the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad), a joint US and Canadian command, was tracking Santa on his reindeer-powered sleigh journey. Norad was providing realtime animated updates online www.noradsanta.org and answering inquiries from children on a Santa hotline.

“Because of the Covid pandemic we have had to adjust how we do business here to make sure everybody stays safe,” Vice-Admiral Michael Dumont of the US Air Force said, adding the number of volunteers involved was down from the usual 1 500.

The tradition began in 1955 when a girl hoping to phone Santa accidental­ly dialled the agency. US Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup answered the call and assured the girl that Santa was en route. – Reuters.

„ RENEGADE PRIEST ARRESTED

Police raided a convent near Russia’s Ural Mountains in the early hours of December 29 and arrested a renegade priest who had seized control of it and allegedly encouraged nuns to commit suicide.

Father Sergiy was taken to Moscow, some 1 400km from the convent, where a court ordered him remanded in custody for two months.

Footage posted online showed a melee of riot police and people shouting outside the convent during the raid.

Father Sergiy, whose real name is Nikolai Romanov, gained prominence after denying the existence of the coronaviru­s, railing against church closures due to the lockdown and criticisin­g the Russian Orthodox Church.

He seized control of the Sredneural­sky convent in Yekaterinb­urg in the Urals in June and refused to leave.

Fond of wearing long dark robes, he was formally cast out of the church in September for ignoring a ban on him holding services and preaching, but had some loyal followers.

As police brought him to Moscow, some gathered outside the court holding up religious icons and chanting: “Father Sergiy, we’re with you!”

He is set to remain in custody until February 28 pending trial on charges of driving people to suicide, violating the right to freedom of conscience and fomenting unlawful actions.

He denies all three charges, his lawyer said, Interfax news agency reported.

The Investigat­ive Committee, which handles probes into major crimes, accused him of calling on at least 10 nuns to commit suicide and sharing a video of the sermon online.

He had previously been sentenced to 13 years in jail for murder and robbery, but was released in the 1990s, the committee said in a statement.” — Reuters.

 ?? — Reuters. ?? Officers track Santa as he starts his journey as shown in this hand-out photo provided by North American Aerospace Defence Command Santa Tracker, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on December 24, 2020.
— Reuters. Officers track Santa as he starts his journey as shown in this hand-out photo provided by North American Aerospace Defence Command Santa Tracker, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on December 24, 2020.

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