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The Telegraph Frontpage for Saturday 2022 December 24

A passenger sleeping at Manchester Airport's Terminal 2
Sam Hall By Sam Hall
Good evening.

Getting home for Christmas – whether by plane, train or automobile – has rarely been so challenging. We have the latest as Border Force officers go on strike, amid warnings that industrial action at our airports could go on for six months.

Paris | A 69-year-old gunman opened fire at a Kurdish cultural centre and hairdressing salon in central Paris earlier today, killing three people and injuring four others. Paris’s prosecutor Laure Beccuau said authorities would examine any possible racist element behind the shooting, adding that the suspected attacker was known to authorities. The shots shortly before midday caused panic in rue d’Enghien in the trendy 10th district of the capital, a bustling area of shops, restaurants and bars that is home to a large Kurdish population.

The big story: Airport strike warning by union

If travel chaos over Christmas isn’t enough, a union boss has said Border Force strikes could go on for six months. It comes as passport officials walked out on one of the busiest days of the year for airports. Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) employed by the Home Office to operate passport booths took industrial action at Heathrow, Birmingham, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester airports, and the port of Newhaven in East Sussex. Border Force strikes will take place every day for the rest of the year, except December 27. Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the PCS union, predicted a “huge escalation” in industrial action in January across the Civil Service unless ministers enter into negotiations. He added that the union would keep supporting the strike action up to the end of its mandate in May. Around a quarter of a million passengers were expected to arrive on flights at affected airports on Friday, including approximately 10,000 people who landed at Heathrow before 7am. Travellers were warned to expect delays amid fears that long queues at passport control could lead to people being held on planes, disrupting subsequent departures.

In another winter transport headache, Crossrail services will also be brought to a standstill as staff strike for the first time since opening earlier this year. Members of the TSSA will walk out on January 12 in a dispute over pay and pensions. Union chiefs claim their members are on lower wages than outsourcers working on behalf of Transport for London. Find out which trains and flights will be affected by strike action this month here.

Ambulance strikes called off

Ambulance strikes planned for next Wednesday have been called off, amid fears of a backlash hitting the NHS at the worst time. Members of the GMB union were due to strike next week, between Christmas and New Year, with action planned at nine ambulance trusts in England. Health leaders have raised concerns that the coming days could be some of the darkest to date, as services struggle to recover from this week’s strikes, while dealing with surging flu cases. Today, the union said the action had been postponed until January because their members cared about patients. However, nurses in England will strike on January 18 and 19 in an escalation of the pay dispute with the Government unless negotiations are opened, the Royal College of Nursing announced.

‘Death of the Christmas card’

Postal workers represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) walked out for their fifth day of December action Friday, in a move which Royal Mail criticised as “a cynical attempt to hold Christmas to ransom”. The company said it will be doing all it can to deliver Christmas mail, revealing that the industrial action has cost it £100 million. There are even fears that the festive tradition of sending Christmas cards may soon come to an end. Industrial action, rising prices and a possible end to Saturday deliveries are set to hammer an industry that has long been on the decline. An estimated £1.7bn is spent annually on greeting cards in the UK – a figure that has remained static for the past five years.

Welcome to Christmas Eve.

As you put the finishing touches to your festive preparations, we have a preview of King Charles III‘s first Christmas speech with a note on its subtle symbolism plus Sir Keir Starmer’s vow to update rules on gender self-identification.

Today’s essential news

Labour plan | Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to change the law to allow trans people to self-declare their gender, The Telegraph can reveal, in the wake of anger over similar moves in Scotland.

  • Poignant | King Charles’ Christmas speech pays tribute to late Queen
    The setting could not be more poignant. King Charles III will deliver his first Christmas message to the nation from St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where his mother was buried just a few months ago.
  • Airports | ‘Better than usual’ in ‘embarrassing’ blow to strikers
    Passengers have said they wish the Army could man the borders permanently after airports ran smoothly on Friday in an “embarrassing” blow to striking Border Force workers.

    The Government had been braced for disruption as a week-long strike by 1,000 passport staff at six airports began.

    Families with young children, who cannot use electronic gates, were expected to bear the brunt of delays at border control, but there was no widespread disruption as travellers arrived home.

    Military personnel and civil servants filled in for Border Force at major airports, including Gatwick and Heathrow, with passengers who had expected “carnage” suggesting border checks were quicker than normal.

  • Defence | Spending to rise by more than a billion in win for Wallace
    The Treasury has accepted the argument that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) budget should not be falling relative to inflation while war rages in Ukraine.
  • Medical error | Six-inch metal forceps left inside patient
    Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has apologised for the error which happened during a seven-hour abdominal procedure
  • Fraud trial | FTX founder’s girlfriend Caroline Ellison ‘sorry’
    Sam Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend has admitted that what she did “was wrong” as she prepares to potentially testify against the former crypto tycoon in one of America’s biggest ever fraud trials.

    Caroline Ellison, 28, told a New York court this week: “I am truly sorry for what I did. I knew that it was wrong.”

Around the word: Top Stories

  • Arctic Christmas | Bone-chilling temperatures, 10ft snow drifts in US

    A deep freeze enveloping most of the United States has combined with a massive winter storm to leave two-thirds of the nation under extreme weather alerts, confounding travel plans for millions of Americans. Heading into the Christmas holiday weekend, the looming storm is forecast to develop into a “bomb cyclone”, unleashing heavy snow from the Great Lakes region to the upper Mississippi Valley and western New York. Numbing cold intensified by high winds is expected to extend as far south as the US-Mexico border. The warnings affect more than 200 million people, about 60 per cent of the US population. View the best pictures from the ‘once in a generation’ winter storm here.
    A once-in-a-generation “bomb cyclone” storm has brought misery and mayhem to the United States with bone-chilling temperatures, 10ft snow drifts, thousands of grounded flights and presents stuck in transit.

    More than 240 million Americans were under weather warnings as temperatures plunged sharply  in a matter of hours.

    On Friday, 1.25 million homes and businesses across the country were without power.

  • Paris riots | Kurdish protesters clash with police after three killed
    Emmanuel Macron, the French president, condemned the shooting, which left three people dead outside a Kurdish community centre and hair salon on Rue d’Enghien.

    “The Kurds in France have been the target of an odious attack in the heart of Paris,” he wrote.

    “Thoughts for the people who are fighting for their lives, their families and their loved ones. Thanks to the security forces for their courage and sang-froid.”

  • Censorship | Internal calls for Putin to be punished for saying ‘war’
    Vladimir Putin should be punished for breaking his own law by calling his invasion of Ukraine a “war”, a St Petersburg lawmaker has said.

    The Russian president on Thursday referred to the invasion of Ukraine as a “war” for the first time since he ordered Russian troops across the border in February.

    Mr Putin insisted Russia’s goal in Ukraine was not “to keep stoking the conflict but, on the contrary, to stop this war”.

    Nikita Yuferev, a councilman from St Petersburg, on Friday sent an official complaint to the Prosecutor General’s Office, asking it to investigate Mr Putin’s remarks to assess if he had violated his own war censorship laws.

  • Saudi Arabia | ‘Plan to use Christmas as cover for mass executions’
    Saudi Arabia is planning a Christmas execution spree while the West is distracted with festivities in a cynical attempt to avoid diplomatic “blowback”, the UK Government has been warned.

    In a letter to the Foreign Secretary seen by the Telegraph, British MPs said the Kingdom would use Christmas as “cover for committing atrocities” – as was the case in 2016 when nearly 50 people, including children, were put to death around late December.

    Around 60 people are known to be facing execution in Saudi Arabia according to human rights groups, who say the true figure is likely to be substantially higher. Death row prisoners are often beheaded with swords, hanged or put in front of firing squads.

    It came just days after activists accused the Government of a “spineless” U-turn on its strong opposition to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, after a Foreign Office minister retracted his claim that a prisoner on death row was “abhorrently tortured” by Saudi jailers.

  • Picture | Serial killer Charles Sobhraj catches commercial flight home
    Charles Sobhraj, the notorious French serial killer who seduced and murdered backpackers on the 1970s hippie trail, has been released from jail in Nepal.

    Sobhraj, a 78-year-old French citizen, arrived on Saturday at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on a flight from Nepal via Qatar, his French lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, told The Associated Press.

Comment and analysis

  • Charles Moore | How Christianity’s retreat has left West vulnerable
    Our societies are in a severe muddle, which makes for fertile ground for woke zealotry
  • Douglas Murray | No cause for optimism about broken Britain
    Despair at the way the country is running isn’t a passing mood, it’s based on objective reality
  • Matthew Lynn | Britain should stay out of crazy green subsidy wars
    We cannot win this row – and we don’t have the resources to compete effectively
    Trade will be distorted. Competition will no longer be fair. Smaller countries will be squeezed out of the market, and it will end up costing far more than it should to combat climate change.

    The International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has wrapped up her 2022 by wading into the row between the United States and the European Union over green subsidies, sending off a furious letter to Washington complaining about President Joe Biden’s plans for the sector.

  • Telegraph View | Caught up in a swirl of Christmas light
    In the battle between light and dark, warmth and cold, life and death, the bright side is that of humanity: the common cause of all mankind

    Filippo Lippi’s tranquil Annunciation was painted on a wooden panel five feet across 570 years ago, in 1453, the same year as it happened that Constantinople, the great remnant of the Roman Empire, fell to Ottoman forces. But the painting speaks only of peace.
  • Letters | Church of England’s bureaucracy at expense of ministry
    The bureaucracies of the 42 dioceses have grown commensurately. In 2018, the Diocese of Leicester had 108 employees. In 1926, it had only one: the bishop’s driver.

    Meanwhile, the chronic paucity of clergy numbers is accentuated by the Church’s lamentable failure to train enough new recruits. Only an unspecified fraction of the 11 per cent portion of its triennial budget is to be spent on clergy training. And yet the Church has known for well over a decade that 20 per cent of its clergy are due to retire by 2025.

Editor’s choice:

Royal family's photos of the year
Royals | Royal family’s photos of the year: The defining moments of 2022
The Abyss
Film | ‘We felt like soldiers in Vietnam’: the life and death making of The Abyss
Thirty feet beneath the surface of the water tank, Ed Harris was pretty sure he was going to die. Desperate to breathe between takes, he had signalled for his air supply to be brought over. It was jammed in his mouth, upside down. Air rushed into his lungs, but so did water. “For a brief second,” Harris said later, “I thought, ‘This is it.’”

Business news: Backlash to Biden’s green tax breaks

Kemi Badenoch has launched an attack on Joe Biden’s huge package of green tax breaks, warning the policy will distort global trade and harm the British car industry. The International Trade Secretary joined an international backlash against the US President’s multi-billion dollar subsidies, which Ms Badenoch said will “harm multiple economies across the world and impact global supply chains in batteries, electric vehicles and wider renewables”. In a letter to Katherine Tai, the US Trade Representative, Ms Badenoch warned that the policy will benefit “our most prominent competitors” in a thinly-veiled reference to China because of the threat to Western supply chains.

Take 5

TV: The 25 funniest Christmas specials

The comedy special is as much a part of British Christmas as a family row and mountains of sprouts. This year, comedy shows from Motherland and The Detectorists to Mrs Brown’s Boys and Ghosts are returning with festive specials to round off 2022. To celebrate, we countdown the greatest 25 Christmas comedy specials of all time.

Christmas With The Royle Family (1999): Razor-sharp observations have never been better

Christmas With The Royle Family (1999): Razor-sharp observations have never been better.

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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