Pope was advised to limit air travel, says report

Updated 20 February 2013
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Pope was advised to limit air travel, says report

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI is nearly blind in one eye and was advised by his doctor to limit air travel because of his high blood pressure, the website Vatican Insider reported on Wednesday.
The report also said the 85-year-old pontiff often has problems sleeping and has fallen out of bed several times in recent years on foreign trips, making him tired in public appearances.
The report was based on indiscretions from papal aides that Vatican affairs specialist Marco Tosatti said he had promised to keep secret until the end of the pontificate on February 28.
“The picture is of a progressive deterioration of his health and his energy — a context that fully justifies the difficult decision that the pope has taken,” Tosatti wrote after the pope said he would step down due to old age.
The report cited the pope’s doctor Patrizio Polisca saying two years ago that Benedict’s blood pressure was having “major jumps” and insisting that he spend “as little time as possible in a plane because of the dangers.”
Tosatti added that Benedict had been expressly advised not to make the transatlantic flight to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day later this year.
In his report, Tosatti also said the pope could “almost no longer see” out of his left eye and therefore had to be helped up and down steps.
The report said Benedict even began using a walking stick to get around his own residence last year because his left hip and knee were hurting.
The Vatican last week revealed the pope had hit his head and bled during a trip to Mexico last year and underwent surgery three months ago to replace the batteries in a pacemaker he was fitted with while he was still a cardinal.


‘Handmaid’s Tale’ returns to television, darker and more chilling

Updated 24 April 2018
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‘Handmaid’s Tale’ returns to television, darker and more chilling

LOS ANGELES: “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns to television this week with its chilling portrait of a near future where women are turned into second-class citizens seeming even darker and more prescient than ever.
That’s not by chance. As the Emmy-winning series moves away from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian 1985 novel, it delves further into how the US moved from democracy into a fictional totalitarian state called Gilead.
Here, pollution has caused widespread infertility, women are forbidden to read, cannot control money, and people spy on each other.
“We began Season 1 feeling we cannot let Margaret Atwood down,” said Warren Littlefield, one of the show’s executive producers.
“Then right after the (2016 presidential) election, as this pre-Gilead Trump administration unfolded, we felt the responsibility that we can’t let down America.
“We are storytellers, but our world that we depict is relevant and the themes are more relevant than ever before,” Littlefield added.
Season 2 starts on Wednesday on streaming platform Hulu, resuming immediately where Season 1 ended last June, with the pregnant Offred (Elisabeth Moss) taken away to face punishment for an act of mass rebellion by a group of handmaids in Gilead.
Pre-Gilead flashbacks show the undermining of human and civil rights, where women need their partner’s consent to get birth control, are pressured to be stay-at-home mothers, and gay people lose legal protections to face persecution.
It also gives viewers a first, terrifying glimpse of the book’s polluted colonies, where infertile or dissident women are sent to live in concentration camp-like conditions.
“There is a lot that we draw upon from the world we are living in,” Littlefield said. “The series tried to dramatize some of the human rights issues that we are experiencing in the world and understand, ‘How did that happen?’”
Season 1 premiered in April 2017 but production started long before Hillary Clinton lost her bid to become the first woman in the White House and Donald Trump was elected US president.
The TV series, striking for its handmaids dressed in red capes and white face-obscuring bonnets, won awards in its first season.
Canadian author Atwood remains as a consultant and producer as the second season moves beyond her book, which became one of the top 10 best-selling novels of 2017.
“Margaret is probably the biggest cheerleader for go, move, do not fear going past the book,” Littlefield said.