Climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time ‘person of the year’

In this file photo taken on September 13, 2019 Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate protest outside the White House in Washington, DC. (AFP)
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Updated 11 December 2019

Climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time ‘person of the year’

NEW YORK: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was named Time’s “person of the year” Wednesday, becoming at age 16 the youngest person to whom the US magazine has given the title.
Thunberg emerged as the face of the youth climate movement after she started skipping school once a week to protest outside her country’s parliament. In the past year and a half, she has drawn large crowds at international conferences and demonstrations outside Sweden.
Some have welcomed Thunberg’s environmental activism, including her speeches challenging world leaders to do more to stop global warming. But others have criticized the teenager’s sometimes combative tone.
“For sounding the alarm about humanity’s predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends backgrounds and borders, for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads, Greta Thunberg is TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year,” the media franchise said Wednesday on its website.
Leaving a United Nations climate conference in Madrid where she addressed negotiators on Wednesday, Thunberg told The Associated Press she was “a bit surprised” by Time’s recognition, which she dedicated to all young activists.
Thunberg said she was hopeful the message of urgency she and other activists are communicating — that governments need to drastically increase their efforts to combat climate change — is finally getting through.
She said the experience of the past 15 months, going from solo-protester outside the Swedish parliament to addressing world leaders at the UN General Assembly, had changed her.
“I think life is much more meaningful now that I have something to do that has an impact,” Thunberg said in a phone interview.
She plans to head home to Sweden for some rest during the holidays. “If you don’t take breaks, you won’t be able to continue,” she said.
Last year’s Time winners included slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot to death; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.


Japan to let off last healthy cruise travelers, isolate rest

Updated 18 min 6 sec ago

Japan to let off last healthy cruise travelers, isolate rest

  • The ship docked at a Yokohama port has the most COVID-19 cases outside of China, with 634 confirmed by late Thursday
  • Six government quarantine workers contracted the virus, raising questions about the protective measures used

TOKYO: Japan’s health minister said the last cruise ship passengers who tested negative for a new virus will leave the Diamond Princess on Friday after a much-criticized quarantine of the vessel ended.

The ship docked at a Yokohama port has the most COVID-19 cases outside of China, with 634 confirmed by late Thursday. Two former passengers have died.

Health Minister Katsunobu Kato told a news conference the mass disembarkation into Japan of passengers from the ship is set to end Friday, while dozens of foreign passengers are flying back to their home countries on flights chartered by their governments.

Most crew members and other passengers who have not completed their 14-day quarantines because they had more recent contact with infected people are staying on the ship for now, but they will be transported to a government facility to be quarantined in isolation.

Japan is discussing with the ship operator and home countries of foreign crew members over their future movements, he said.

Japan’s government has been questioned over its decision to keep people quarantined on the ship, given the tight quarters and the difficulty of isolating sick people from the healthy.

Six government quarantine workers contracted the virus, raising questions about the protective measures used.

The two fatalities, a man and woman who were both Japanese and in their 80s, were believed to have been infected before health checks and a Feb. 5 quarantine began on the ship, Health Ministry official Masami Sakoi said. It was not immediately known if they had any roommates on the ship.

The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has sickened tens of thousands of people, mostly in central China’s Hubei province.

The US and other countries have put former Diamond Princess passengers in second quarantines.

Australia said two passengers tested positive after they returned home. Kato said Australia, like the US, brought home a mixture of passengers who tested negative and others who were not tested and had an unknown status, therefore it was difficult to know when or how they had contracted the virus.

Kato said passengers who returned home on the US and Australian flights did so before completing the Japanese quarantine process, and that Japan’s ongoing disembarkation of passengers is still adequate.