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The Telegraph Frontpage for Thursday 2022 December 22


As ambulance workers downed tools for the first time in over 30 years, the human toll of the strike has begun to emerge. Yesterday Volodymyr Zelensky travelled to Washington for his first foreign trip since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his first foreign visit since the Russian invasion was aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s “resilience and defence capabilities”, amid repeated Russian attacks on energy and water supplies in the dead of winter. Mykhailo Podolyak, a presidential adviser, said Ukraine would be seeking “weapons, weapons and more weapons” from Mr Zelensky’s trip to Washington. A Nato spy plane was dispatched to scout the North Sea before the aircraft reported to be carrying Mr Zelensky arrived in the area. Russia warned that increasing the supply of US arms to Ukraine would aggravate the war and “does not bode well”.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden in Washington

Ukraine ‘alive and kicking – and will never surrender’

It was a mixture of defiance and gratitude. Volodymyr Zelensky was given a thunderous reception early today as he told a joint session of Congress that Ukraine is “alive and kicking” and would “never surrender”. In a 20-minute speech, the Ukrainian president invoked the spirit of the Second World War and the American War of Independence. He told senators and members of Congress his soldiers needed more weapons, including planes, and that US spending on Ukraine was not “charity” but an “investment in global security and democracy”. Comparisons were made between his address and that of Winston Churchill to Congress a few weeks after Pearl Harbor. Mr Churchill’s meeting with Franklin Roosevelt, exactly 81 years ago, cemented their partnership and led, ultimately, to victory in the Second World War. US editor Nick Allen, in Washington, writes that the timing was not lost on president Joe Biden, who earlier suggested European allies were holding America back from giving Ukraine the type of weapons it wants.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin vowed there would be no limits to Russian military spending as he approved a massive increase to the size of the country’s army. In a televised meeting with his top brass, the president pledged to give the army “everything it is asking for” to win in Ukraine, where the Kremlin’s troops are increasingly bogged down in deadly attritional fighting. As Nataliya Vasilyeva reports, Putin’s disastrous military campaign has revealed endemic corruption in its army.


Fears for seriously ill as 999 calls drop

On the day that ambulance workers went on strike for the first time in a generation, the number of 999 calls being made appears to be plummeting in some areas across the country. Hours into the strikes by 10 of 11 ambulance trusts in England and Wales, Health Service Journal reported a fall in the volume of 999 calls across the country. The journal said West Midlands Ambulance Service had seen a 70 per cent drop in its calls, raising fears that the seriously ill are not making contact. As paramedics and ambulance crews took to picket lines across England and Wales, senior medics raised concern that those in need of emergency care may not be coming forward. Our Health Editor Laura Donnelly writes that they also raised fears of a “rebound effect” if those in need of help fail to seek it, meaning services could be deluged in the days before Christmas. Christina McAnea, the general secretary of Unison, said it was “absolutely the Government’s” fault and accused them of being “totally irresponsible”.

You should only call 999 if you think you are going to die, an ambulance chief said as tens of thousands of staff walked out. Stephen Segasby, chief operating officer of North East Ambulance Service, wants patients to ask themselves: “Am I going to die? Do I feel like I am going to die?” As a war of words escalated on Wednesday morning between union chiefs and ministers, on the ground Mr Segasby told patients: “Ambulances will still be able to respond during the strike, but this will only be where there is an immediate risk to life.”

NHS to be offered fast-tracked pay deal to end strikes

In a government effort to break the deadlock with health unions, striking NHS workers will be offered a fast-tracked pay deal next year. As paramedics and ambulance crews manned picket lines across England and Wales, sources close to Steve Barclay said he was keen to “speed up the process” of giving NHS staff a pay rise. The Health Secretary urged workers to “look forward” to next year’s deal. Typically, NHS workers wait until August to receive a backdated rise, but sources close to Mr Barclay said he would demand action to see any extra money in pay packets “at the earliest opportunity”. However, unions and ministers remain at loggerheads, with the Royal College of Nursing is expected to announce strike dates for January – as senior medics raised fears that the coming days would put unprecedented pressures on the health service.

World news: Nazi camp secretary, 97, found guilty

A 97-year-old former Nazi concentration camp secretary has been given a two-year suspended sentence by a German court for complicity in the murder of more than 10,000 people. In one of the country’s last Holocaust trials, Irmgard Furchner was found guilty on Tuesday for her role in what prosecutors called the “cruel and malicious murder” of tens of thousands of prisoners at the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland. Ms Furchner sat in a wheelchair in the courtroom, wearing a white cap and a medical mask as presiding judge Dominik Gross read out the verdict.


World news: China builds on disputed unclaimed land

China is enlarging and building on previously unclaimed land in the disputed Spratly Islands for the first time, Western officials have said. For years, Beijing has been strengthening its presence in the strategic maritime region, militarising disputed reefs, islands and land formations it has long controlled, raising fears it is working to seize control of access to crucial global shipping routes in international waters. But the latest development, reported by Bloomberg, would be the first known instance of China building on territory it did not already occupy. Chinese maritime militias have carried out construction work at four unoccupied features in the Spratly Islands over the past decade, the officials said.

China has reported no new Covid-19 deaths despite media images of overflowing hospitals and hearses lining up outside crematoriums. Infections are ripping through the country after its hardline zero-Covid policy was eased but, despite this, China said that there had not been a single new death. As Sophia Yan reports, hospitals are struggling, pharmacy shelves have been stripped bare and crematoriums are overwhelmed in the wake of the government’s sudden decision to lift lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing following protests.
Residents queue up for Covid tests in Lianyungang.

Residents queue up for Covid tests in Lianyungang. Credit: Getty


Here is a selection of articles we think you’ll be interested in today.
Unions have made conscious choice to inflict harm on patients, says Steve Barclay
Police investigate after Tory MP Bob Stewart tells activist to ‘go back to Bahrain’
Being a woman is not a ‘costume or a feeling’, Nicola Sturgeon warned
Nicola Sturgeon has been warned by one of her former ministers that being a woman is not a “costume or a feeling” as MSPs were poised to approve her radical transgender reforms on Thursday.

At Holyrood, even vocal opponents of the gender self-identification system, which will allow Scots aged 16 and over to change their legally-recognised sex by signing a declaration, acknowledged it was almost certain to pass.

NHS staff to be offered fast-tracked pay rise in bid to end strikes
Striking NHS workers will be offered a fast-tracked pay deal next year in a government attempt to break the deadlock with health unions.

As paramedics and ambulance crews took to picket lines across England and Wales on Wednesday, a source close to Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, said he was keen to “speed up the process” of giving NHS staff a pay rise.

On Wednesday, Mr Barclay urged workers to “look forward” to next year’s deal instead of hoping for this year’s offer to be unpicked. The process of setting pay recommendations for next year is already under way.

Opinion – Nicola Sturgeon’s arrogance and ego have turned devolution into a downright disgrace
What Nicola Sturgeon has managed to do in the space of the last few days has been to turn a genuine, if misguided, democratic experiment – devolution – into a downright disgrace. In normal circumstances, maybe laughing stock would be a better description – given the farcical scenes acted out at the Scottish Parliament.

Comment and analysis

Editor’s choice

Free speech
Total Disgrace vs National Treasure | The double standards surrounding free speech
Victoria Moore
Victoria Moore’s festive tips | ‘The wine questions I’m always asked during Christmas’
Parenting Confessions
Parenting Confessions | ‘Extreme measures to break my children’s phone obsessions’

Business briefing: FTX boss’s ex admits fraud

Sam Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend and one of his closest associates have pleaded guilty to fraud and are cooperating with US authorities investigating the collapse of FTX. The revelation came as Mr Bankman-Fried was due to arrive in New York to face one of the biggest ever US fraud trials over the demise of his cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Meanwhile, research shows property sales in rural and coastal areas have slumped as homebuyers escape from the country and return to the city.


And finally… for this morning’s downtime

The surprising Silicon Valley of Africa | For many tourists visiting Rwanda, the main draw is the chance to go “full Attenborough”: trekking through the lofty, misty rainforests of eastern central Africa. But with big changes happening in the capital city of Kigali, that looks set to change. Jamie Fullerton explains how there is more to the country than migrant deals and gorilla tours.

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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