U.K. court pumps brakes on transgendering teens
A ruling calls cross-sex treatments experimental
BRITAIN: Keira Bell is the young woman at the heart of a landmark judgment issued by the U.K. High Court on Tuesday requiring doctors to seek a court order before administering puberty-blocking drugs to under-age youth.
The ruling throws a spotlight on the state-run Gender Identity Development Service, or GIDS, and the burgeoning practice of administering hormone-altering drugs to youth worldwide.
The court found medical treatment by GIDS for gender dysphoria “experimental” and said practitioners did not adequately explain the long-term consequences to teens. The court highlighted also the service’s “surprising” lack of record-keeping on under-age youth—though it treated 161 children with puberty blockers in 2019-20, including 26 patients under 13 years old.
Read more about similar trends in the United States.
BRITAIN will be the first country to begin administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It expects to begin immunizations for the coronavirus early next week in healthcare workers and care home residents.
INDIA: How do you vaccinate 1 billion people? Despite the second-highest rate of COVID-19 infections, India has a solid track record of immunizing large numbers of people, and five of 30 vaccine candidates are in clinical trials there. Still, experts say it will take several years to vaccinate half the population. With all the logistical challenges, it’s no surprise that scientists are working on a “thermo-stable” or warm vaccine.
SWEDEN: “Serious shortcomings” in COVID-19 care for nursing home residents contributed to a spike in death rates among the elderly, a team of investigators found. Known for its rejection of lockdowns and masks, Sweden has suffered many times more COVID-19 deaths per capita than its neighbors.
IRAQ: Omar Mohammed—a former Mosul University history lecturer who turned to blogging about the Islamic State (ISIS) occupation of his city under the alias “Mosul Eye”—now says his “life mission” is restoring the Jewish heritage of the liberated city. Mohammed, who helped to uncover the remains of an old synagogue that survived ISIS militants, said he hopes to “bring back the Jewish story and accept it as part of our own.”
GAZA: With one of the highest population densities in the world, Gaza faces skyrocketing COVID-19 infections with hospital bed shortages. “Every single person in my family is infected, our neighbors, too. There is hardly a street where someone isn’t infected,” one resident told the German news outlet DW.
WEST BANK: Israel has released more than $1 billion in tax receipts withheld from the Palestinian Authority, normally distributed monthly but held up over a PA boycott. The funds represent half the PA budget—and also diplomatic progress under U.S.-brokered normalization of ties with Arab countries.
“Christmas will not be canceled,” said Bethlehem Mayor Anton Salman, despite coronavirus restrictions that have brought international travel to the birthplace of Jesus to a halt. Christian business owners I know selling local crafts are putting their products online.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Rebel fighters with the Islamic State–linked Allied Democratic Forces are suspected in attacks in late November that killed 20 Christians in North Kivu province. One clergyman said his wife and four children were killed after they refused to convert to Islam.
VANUATU: “When the rain comes, we feel trapped as if we were standing on a ship,” a resident said as more powerful storms in the South Pacific forced inhabitants to relocate from vanishing islands. Their cases could set the stage for “climate change damage” suits against polluting nations.
CHINA: The Chang’e-5 space probe began drilling on the surface of the Moon today, hours after the successful landing of the first lunar mission since 1976.
I’M READING: Light Upon Light by Sarah Arthur, and also recommend entering the season with Biola’s Advent Project. The vibrant story of two women’s hard journeys to America leads off WORLD’s 2020 Books of the Year selections.
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