A massive, and rare, funnel cloud swirled north of Doha on Wednesday, December 7, as Qatar’s weather service warned of stormy conditions.Footage by Kamal Pandey shows a dark and dusty funnel cloud spinning near the industrial city of Ras Laffan.The Qatar Meteorology Department warned of a line of storms moving along the coast, producing rain and thunder.Qatar is host to the FIFA World Cup, although no games were scheduled on Wednesday. The tournament resumes on Friday as Croatia takes on Brazil in the quarter-finals. Credit: Kamal Pandey via Storyful
STORY: Location: Yucatan, MexicoThis human-sized sculpture was discovered in an old Mayan town Archaeologists believe it represents a male figure that could have been offered in a ritualIt was found in one of the buildings under restorationat Mexico’s Oxkintok archaeological siteArchaeologists also found engravings and inscriptions on the walls [Luis Pantoja, Oxkintok Project Director]“We are looking to get all the buildings open to the public. We don’t have any findings now. To us, every discovery is important. A human sculpture that was precisely found in this building here behind us caught our attention. It represents different ideas of the Mayan cosmovision.”
STORY: Castillo's swift fall from power on Wednesday (December 7) came after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove the leader, following his failed attempt to rule by decree and dissolve Congress to avoid a third impeachment vote.Dozens gathered outside the penitentiary centre where Castillo is being detained. Castillo was ordered on Thursday by a court to stay there for at least the next seven days as an inquiry into alleged crimes of rebellion and conspiracy proceeds.Castillo, a former teacher and union activist who won a narrow victory in 2021 buoyed by poor rural and indigenous voters, faces separate corruption allegations simultaneously.Outside Congress, protesters set barricades on fire and threw objects at police officers who responded by firing tear gas canisters into the crowds to disperse them.The Andean country has suffered intense bouts of political instability in recent years, with five presidents in just the last five years, all unable to complete their elected terms. The 17-month tenure of the 53-year-old Castillo was marked by unprecedented turnover among his ministers, as well as multiple corruption scandals which he dismissed as politically motivated efforts by right-wing members of the opposition-controlled Congress set on undermining his government.
Convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was greeted by family upon landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport late on December 8, after he was exchanged for WNBA star Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported.Footage released by Zvezda, operated by the Russian defense ministry, shows Bout, carrying flowers, exit an aircraft and hug two women. A presenter in the video says the women are his mother and wife. This was also reported by Interfax.Bout and Griner were exchanged by US and Russian officials at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, earlier on Thursday.Russia’s customs service detained Griner at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February, alleging that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison and sent to a penal colony in western Russia after losing her appeal.On Griner’s release, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, thanked members of the US government who helped secure the swap. She also paid tribute to Paul Whelan, a retired Marine who has been imprisoned in Russia for four years on espionage charges.Bout, a former Soviet military officer, was serving a 25-year sentence at a penitentiary in Illinois. Credit: Zvezda via Storyful
Footage captured the moment WNBA basketball player Brittney Griner and convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout were exchanged by US and Russian officials at an airport in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Thursday, December 8.Footage released by Zvezda, operated by the Russian defense ministry, shows Griner and Bout escorted to the swap point. A brief exchange occurs between the US and Russian parties, and they part ways, each with their respective citizens.The exchange took place at Abu Dhabi’s Al Bateen Executive Airport.Russian Customs Service detained Griner at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in February, alleging that she was in possession of vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis. She was sentenced in August to nine years in prison and sent to a penal colony in western Russia after losing her appeal.Bout, a convicted international arms dealer, was serving a 25-year sentence at a penitentiary in Illinois.Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, thanked members of the US government who had helped secure the swap. She also paid tribute to Paul Whelan, a retired Marine who has been imprisoned in Russia for four years on espionage charges. Credit: Zvezda via Storyful
A popular Twitter account with over 235,000 followers has accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of being drunk. Mr Putin was swaying and had a glass of sparkling wine in his hand as he made accusations against Ukraine. Source: Reuters
STORY: Every year on the night of December 7, Guatemalans build bonfires to burn effigies of the devil as well as household junk in a symbol of purification before the following day's Catholic Holy Day of the Immaculate Conception.The act marks the start of Christmas festivities in the Central American country and has taken place since the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.The tradition has also become an opportunity for people to clean out their houses and throw old paper, furniture, and other unwanted goods on the bonfires. They also set off firecrackers as a sign that Christmas celebrations are underway.
STORY: The S&P 500 closed higher on Thursday, snapping a five-session losing streak...Wall Street's main indexes had come under pressure in recent days on expectations of a longer rate-hike cycle and downbeat economic views from some top company executives.But Thursday, a rise in weekly jobless claims was interpreted by investors as a sign the Fed could soon slow the pace of interest rate hikes.The Dow closed up more than half a percent, the S&P gained three-quarters of a percent and the Nasdaq climbed more than 1.1%.Sylvia Jablonski, CEO and chief investment officer of Defiance ETFs, expects stocks to be stuck in a tight trading range for now."Here we are again with a little bit of additional data showing us that there is weakness in the economy and perhaps inflation will come down for that reason. But I think overall markets are going to be directionless for some time. [FLASH] I think we'll have some pullbacks and then we'll have some pops off of those pullbacks. But they'll probably stay in a trading range because we need to get past the next earnings season. [FLASH] So I do think that there's not a whole lot to make of the day to day movements from here on in. I think it's going to be kind of sleepy couple of months, might get some rallies in between. But we have some, we have some time before we get to the point that the Fed just stops and that, you know, we start seeing that earnings were resilient enough for us to sort of move on up and start trending upward."Among Thursday’s gainers, most mega-cap technology and growth stocks rose, such as Apple, Nvidia and Amazon.com.The e-commerce giant made a bold move by announcing Thursday that it will roll out a TikTok-like feed on its app, hoping to attract new shoppers through a stream of photos and videos from their favorite influencers.Amazon had weeks ago warned of a slow holiday season amid decades-high inflation.In other tech news, Microsoft closed higher after the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint aimed at blocking the tech giant's $69 billion bid to buy Activision Blizzard, maker of the popular "Call of Duty" games.And in pharmaceutical stocks, Moderna advanced after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID-19 shots from the vaccine maker that target both the original coronavirus and Omicron sub-variants for use in children as young as six months of age.The FDA also approved similar guidance for fellow COVID vaccine maker Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, which both ended higher.
STORY: It depicts the baby Joseph, surrounded by a "floating" Joseph and Mary.Francesco Orazio's creation is in the water near the island of Buarno. It does not impact navigation.The painted plywood nativity figures are fixed by wooden stakes into the lagoon.
The main Christmas tree display in Kharkiv, Ukraine, was set up at an underground metro station on December 7, due to safety concerns, city officials said.The Christmas tree, or New Year’s tree as it’s also referred to in Ukraine, was installed at the University metro station, which lies beneath Freedom Square, where the tree usually stands, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.“There is a war going on, and it is inappropriate to put up a Christmas tree on Freedom Square, as we have always done. That’s why we installed it in the subway. It is safe,” Terekhov said.This footage posted by Kharkiv-based researcher Maria Avdeeva on December 8 shows children stopping to look at the tree. “Russia сan’t steal Christmas from our children,” Avdeeva said.Terekhov said there will be free New Year’s events and concerts for children in the subway. Credit: Maria Avdeeva via Storyful
STORY: Children and adults explored nearly a mile of flowers, hedges and trees in the enchanted gardens on a "magical, festive journey", according to the Botanical Garden of Rome.''Wonderful, a beautiful thing. Here it feels like a little Japan, whereas over there I felt like I was in the House of Flying Daggers. Wonderful. Here one becomes young again, one becomes a kid again'', 60-year-old Rome resident, Anna Frangella, said.As the sun set, the garden lit up with colourful Christmas LEDs, creating projections and laser displays such as 'the 'Cathedral of Light'', ''the Kaleidoscope'', ''the Laser World'' and ''the Field of Light''.The ticketed exhibition, entitled Incanto di Luci (Enchantment of Lights), runs until January 8.
STORY: Peru’s ousted former president, Pedro Castillo, was ordered to a seven-day preliminary jail sentence on Thursday, a day after he was arrested and criminally charged with "rebellion and conspiracy." The widely unpopular leader’s swift fall from power came after congressional lawmakers voted overwhelming to remove him, after Castillo tried to dissolve Congress illegally in a bid to stay in office and avoid a third impeachment vote.His downfall follows months of instability and multiple corruption scandals.On the day of his arrest, supporters of Castillo clashed with riot police in Lima, while others took to the streets to celebrate the ex-leader's ousting.On Thursday, his supporters protested outside the prison where he was being held. Castillo’s lawyer rejected the rebellion charge, arguing that such an act implies use of weapons and violence, which he said never occurred. Prosecutors said he should be behind bars."It is to be noted that if freed, Mr. Castillo could communicate with government officials to hide or destroy elements of conviction that prevent the investigation of the truth." Meanwhile, Castillo's successor and former vice president Dina Boluarte issued her first pronouncements at the presidential palace - a day after being sworn in as Peru’s first female president.“I think that the assumption of the presidency at this time is a bit of a reorientation of what needs to be done with the country, later on, in coordination with all the organizations we will be looking at alternatives to better reorient the destiny of the country." Boluarte may ultimately have to call for early elections to bring stability to a country that has been mired in political turmoil for years.The new president said calling early elections would be "democratically respectable" but added she wants to hold additional discussions first, without adding further details.
STORY: The growing number of migrants stranded at sea risks leading to a new confrontation with Italy's right-wing government, in a replay of last month's drama also involving France.The baby, named Ali, was delivered on Wednesday (December 7) and airlifted overnight to the Italian island along with the mother and three siblings, the Doctors without Borders (MSF) group said.NGO vessels patrol the waters off Libya and Tunisia, and normally ask Italy or Malta to take in the migrants they rescue, including many reeling from abuse and hardship in Libyan camps.Malta refuses almost all requests on the grounds that it is too small to handle them, while Italy complains that it cannot be left shouldering the burden alone.
Snowy weather caused traffic collisions and road closures in Washington state on Thursday, December 8, according to local news reports.The Washington State Department of Transportation said roads in the region were closed due to crashes, and crews were working hard to keep other highways plowed.The North Bend government urged travelers to drive carefully and take their time while commuting.Footage captured by Anita Kissee shows snow falling in North Bend, Washington. Credit: Anita Kissee via Storyful
STORY: JUDGE BOBBIE CHEEMA-GRUBB: “...for the offence of causing the death of Harry Dunn by your careless driving..."Anne Sacoolas, a U.S. government employee, was given an eight-month jail term suspended for 12 months by a London court on Thursday... for causing the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn when she drove on the wrong side of the road in England in 2019. It means she would only face prison if she commits another crime in Britain in the next year. Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. intelligence officer who was stationed in the UK at the time, fled the country after the crash, blamed her departure on pressure from the U.S. government.She pleaded guilty by video link in October… and also appeared remotely on Thursday. Sacoolas’ lawyers told the court their client had been advised not to attend in person.JUDGE BOBBIE CHEEMA-GRUBB: “The reasons were that for the first time in these criminal proceedings, a barrier to your attendance emanating from the American government was relied on in support of the application.” Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, welcomed the sentence but said not showing up was cowardly.“I think it's despicable that she didn't come over on the judges orders and yeah -- huge, huge coward. [FLASH] We weren't cowards, we didn't back away from the U.S. government or the UK government in the beginning. We didn't back down because we have values. Maybe she doesn't." Dunn was riding his motorcycle near an air force base used by the U.S. military in the English county of Northamptonshire when he was hit by a car driven on the wrong side of the road by Sacoolas. Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity from criminal prosecution after the crash, and the United States refused to extradite her.The incident caused a spat between London and Washington and even lead to a meeting with then-U.S. President Donald Trump. The British government backed calls for Sacoolas to be prosecuted. For the family, the sentencing is the culmination of three years of fighting for justice.CHARLOTTE CHARLES: “Job done. Promise complete - properly, properly complete now. Anne Sacoolas has a criminal record for the rest of her life...”
A man who was recently trapped under a truck in Oakdale, California, called his 15-year-old son a “hero” after the teenager lifted the truck just enough for him to roll out.Security camera footage shows Matt Wilkinson working under a truck on his property when the vehicle suddenly collapses on top of him. His son Dalin can then be seen lifting a corner of the vehicle just enough for his dad to roll away.Wilkinson told KCRA that this was supposed to be a normal Monday night, working on his truck, until he decided to slide under the vehicle to get a better angle at the rotor.“The second it popped off, the truck fell,” he said. “It rolled forward, and it just fell right on top of me, and all I could think was the breath coming out of me. I was just squished. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t yell.”His son Dalin, a 15-year-old high school student, said his father made a noise “like his soul was leaving his body.”Wilkinson, who was left with broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a separated shoulder after the accident, praised his son as his hero. Credit: Matt Wilkinson via Storyful
STORY: The union, part of the NewsGuild of New York, had set a deadline for a contract for midnight Dec. 8.The 24-hour walkout marked the first time New York Times employees have participated in a work stoppage since the early 1980s and comes amid a growing labor movement across the United States in which employees from companies such as Amazon, Starbucks and Apple have organized in an effort to push back against what they say are unfair labor practices.In August, nearly 300 Thomson Reuters Corp journalists in the United States, also represented by the NewsGuild of New York, staged a 24-hour strike as the union negotiates with the company for a new three-year contract.
Gunner, a working bloodhound who went missing in Blacksburg, South Carolina, was found and reunited with his handler on Thursday, December 8, according to the York County Sheriff’s Office.The dog was lost after he “jerked away from his handler” during a K-9 training session in a South Carolina state park on Wednesday, police said.Officials searched the area for 25 hours until Gunner was found on Thursday afternoon.Video posted by the York County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday shows the joyous reunion upon Gunner’s return.Police reported that the bloodhound was “cold, wet, and thirsty but in good health.” Credit: York County Sheriff’s Office via Storyful
STORY: This is what's left of Oleksandr Hupalo's home."There was hell in here," he says.He's among a small group of Ukrainians who have returned to Posad-Pokrovske - a village in Kherson.It was once the war's front line.Liudmyla Hupalo says over 3,000 people used to live here.Less than 200 have come back.“Some come, repair their house and leave. The ones that still have something to save, they save it. The ones that have nothing to save and have no place to live, they don’t come back. My parents’ house is gone, completely ruined. There is some roof left above my house, but it is still scary to look at.”When Russian forces advanced earlier this year, people fled in a mass westward exodus.Over the past month -- since Ukraine's army recaptured the provincial capital and surrounding territory -- people have been slowly returning to homes damaged or reduced to rubble by Russian shells.Nearby, farmer Vasyl Oliinyk surveys his property.He says Russian forces destroyed his farming equipment -- and his livelihood.“I have no idea what to do, what to begin with. You see with your own eyes – everything is destroyed."Back at home, he fires up one of the wood stoves sent in to help villagers cope with the bitter cold.But it's still a far cry from a return to normal.
STORY: Plant species are disappearing around the worldand it's happening silentlyLocation: London, EnglandScientists at the Royal Bontanic Gardens, Kew say nearly 800 have disappeared since the 18th centuryThousands more are considered functionally extinct (Carly Cowell, Conservation policy lead)“I think the greatest threat immediately to the plants in the world is land use change, be that for agriculture or housing, it's certainly an immediate threat where forests are cut down and pristine grasslands are ploughed.”At least 40% of the world’s remaining plant species are in troubleaccording to Kew's 2020 State of the World’s Plants and Fungi report Estimates suggest two plant species vanish each year on average
A disability pensioner living in Werrington County, Sydney claims a tree looper dumped a truck-load of mulch on her driveway, which she recorded him doing.
STORY: Spanish divers helped free this whale sharkafter it got caught in tuna fishing netsnear the Strait of GibraltarWhale sharks are the largest fish in the worldand are endangeredaccording to the World Wildlife Fund(Juan Carlos Rivas, President, CECAM) “This is the first time, and I have been diving for many years, that I have seen a whale shark in Ceuta.”It took divers about four hours to release the shark
A photographer based in Preston, Lancashire, filmed herself making a frozen soap bubble on a freezing morning at home on December 8.Janette Hall captured this video during her first attempt at the stunt. She said it was -4 degrees Celsius.According to the Met Office, temperatures dropped below -8 Celsius (17.5 Fahrenheit) in parts of the United Kingdom on Thursday morning. Credit: Janette Hall via Storyful
STORY: Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law in August, offers large incentives for U.S. companies producing clean energy like hydrogen. Just this week, BP chief executive Bernard Looney said he is betting on hydrogen to power future low-carbon businesses.Hydrogen is forecast to play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industries and some forms of transport.