Young South Africans learn of Tutu's activism for equality

JOHANNESBURG — The legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's activism for equality continues to reverberate among young South Africans, many of whom were not born when the clergyman battled apartheid. South Africa is holding a week of mourning for Tutu, who died Sunday at the age of 90. Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his passionate efforts to win full rights for South Africa's Black majority. Following the end of apartheid in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that documented atrocities during apartheid and sought to promote national reconciliation. Tutu also became one of the world’s most prominent religious leaders to champion LGBTQ rights. Some young South Africans told The Associated Press on Monday that even though they did not know much about him, they knew that he was one of the most prominent figures to help the country become a democracy.

COVID-19 variant disrupts holiday travel but not shopping

The latest COVID-19 variant is upending holiday plans for tens of thousands of travelers — but it didn’t do much damage to holiday shopping. Airlines canceled hundreds more flights Sunday, citing staffing problems tied to COVID-19, as the nation’s travel woes extended beyond Christmas, with no clear indication when normal schedules would resume. But shoppers shrugged off the omicron variant, and holiday sales rose at the fastest pace in 17 years, according to one spending measure. Omicron is likely to slow the economy’s unexpectedly strong rebound from last year’s coronavirus recession by disrupting travel and discouraging some consumers from venturing out. The variant could also add more heat to already simmering inflation by forcing shutdowns at factories and ports, delaying shipments and driving up prices.

Omicron spreads global gloom over New Year's celebrations

BRUSSELS — After struggling with the coronavirus for far too long, the world understands all too well Belgium's word of the year, “knaldrang!” — the urge to party, the need to let loose. Yet as New Year celebrations approach, the omicron variant is casting more gloom. Monday was a case in point, with several governments considering more restrictions to add to a patchwork of measures and lockdowns already in place around Europe. The French government and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were assessing the latest data and the need to counter the record numbers of COVID-19 infections with more measures to keep people apart at a time when they so dearly want to be together. But with indications that omicron might be a milder variant despite its massive transmissibility, politicians were caught in a bind whether to further spoil yet another party or play safe to make sure health care systems don't collapse.

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