Actress Betty White Dies Just Shy of 100th Birthday

Comedic actress Betty White, who capped a career of more than 80 years by becoming America’s geriatric sweetheart after Emmy-winning roles on television sitcoms The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, has died, less than three weeks shy of her 100th birthday, People magazine reported Friday, quoting her agent.  Her agent and close…

UK Honors COVID Scientists and Medics, Bond Actor Daniel Craig 

Britain recognized the scientists and medical chiefs at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 in Queen Elizabeth’s annual New Year’s honors list, while James Bond actor Daniel Craig was given the same award as his famous onscreen character.  Craig, who bowed out from playing the fictional British spy after five outings following the release…

Hall of Famer Sam Jones, Winner of 10 NBA Titles, Dies at 88

Basketball Hall of Famer Sam Jones, the Boston Celtics’ “Mr. Clutch” whose sharp shooting fueled the league’s longest dynasty and earned him 10 NBA titles — second only to teammate Bill Russell — has died, the team said. He was 88.  Jones died Thursday night in Florida, where he had been hospitalized in failing health,…

Pope Attends Year-End Service but Does Not Preside as Expected

Pope Francis ended the year by attending a vespers service Friday where he praised those who responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with responsibility and solidarity rather than an attitude of “every person for themselves.”  The pope did not preside at the service as had been expected, leaving that to a senior Vatican cardinal.  The Vatican…

2022 Oscar Contenders Reflect Turbulence, Needs of the Times

The new year signals the beginning of the Oscars race. Oscar nominees distinguish themselves in categories such as film direction, cinematography and acting. The message of these films is also significant, especially in relation to the times we live in. VOA’s Penelope Poulou looks at some of these promising contenders. …

New Year’s Eve Muted by Omicron; Many Hoping for Better 2022

Good riddance to 2021. Let 2022 bring fresh hope. That was a common sentiment Friday as people around the world got ready to welcome in the new year. In many places, plans for New Year’s Eve celebrations were muted or canceled for the second straight year due to a surge of coronavirus infections, this time…

Times Square Show Will Go on Despite Virus Surge, Mayor Says

New York City will ring in 2022 in Times Square as planned despite record numbers of COVID-19 infections in the city and around the nation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. “We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through…

Amanda Gorman Writes End-of-Year Poem, ‘New Day’s Lyric’

Amanda Gorman is ending her extraordinary year on a hopeful note.  The 23-year-old poet, whose reading of her own “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration made her an international sensation, released a new work Wednesday to mark the end of 2021. “New Day’s Lyric” is a five-stanza, 48-line resolution with themes of…

NFL Hall of Fame Coach, Broadcaster John Madden Dies at 85

John Madden, the Hall of Fame coach turned broadcaster whose exuberant calls combined with simple explanations provided a weekly soundtrack to NFL games for three decades, died Tuesday morning, the NFL said. He was 85.  The league said he had died unexpectedly, and it did not provide a cause.  Madden gained fame in a decadelong…

US Catholic Clergy Shortage Eased by Recruits From Africa

The Rev. Athanasius Chidi Abanulo — using skills honed in his African homeland to minister effectively in rural Alabama— determines just how long he can stretch out his Sunday homilies based on who is sitting in the pews. Seven minutes is the sweet spot for the mostly white and retired parishioners who attend the English-language…

‘Spider-Man’ Surpasses $1B Globally, Holds North America Box Office Top Spot

The hit new “Spider-Man” became the first billion-dollar-grossing film of the pandemic era over the Christmas weekend, reaching the milestone while holding firmly to the North American box office top spot, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Sunday. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” British star Tom Holland’s third solo outing in the wildly popular role, has grossed…

3 Members of K-Pop Sensation BTS Diagnosed with COVID-19

Three members of the K-pop superstar group BTS have tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from abroad, their management agency said. RM and Jin were diagnosed with COVID-19 on Saturday evening, the Big Hit Music agency said in a statement. It earlier said another member, Suga, tested positive for the virus on Friday. All…

A Cultural Gumbo: Immigrants Propel Evolution of Louisiana Cooking

“There is nothing in the world like the food you can find in Louisiana,” Chef Isaac Toups, owner of popular New Orleans restaurant Toups Meatery, told VOA. “It’s such a unique mix of so many different cultures that converged here from around the globe. They brought their ideas about food with them and made a…

President Biden, First Lady Visit Hospitalized Kids on Christmas Eve

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden brought some Christmas Eve cheer to hospitalized children who aren’t well enough to go home for holidays. It’s longstanding tradition for first ladies to visit Children’s National Hospital at Christmastime, but Joe Biden’s visit on Friday was a surprise. It marked the first time that a sitting…

On Broadway, a Playwright Becomes an Actor, Saving a Show

Keenan Scott II made his Broadway acting debut this week in “Thoughts of a Colored Man,” which is a remarkable milestone. It’s even more remarkable when you consider he also wrote it. The actor-turned-playwright was pressed into acting duties at the last moment Tuesday night to keep his show open while all around Broadway battles…

Novelist Writes About New Yorkers in 60-Second Snippets

For over four decades, novelist Dan Hurley has been writing 60-second-long stories about New Yorkers he met on the street. But apart from amusing passers-by with his literary talent, Hurley also happens to be an award-winning science writer. Anna Nelson met with Hurley on the streets of the Big Apple. Anna Rice narrates her story.…

In UAE Desert, Camels Compete for Crowns in Beauty Pageant

Deep in the desert of the United Arab Emirates, the moment that camel breeders had been waiting for arrived. Families hauled their camels through wind-carved sands. Servers poured tiny cups of Arabic coffee. Judges descended on desert lots. A single question loomed over the grandstand: Which camels were most beautiful? Even as the omicron variant…

Writer Joan Didion, Chronicler of Contemporary American Society, Dies at 87 

Author Joan Didion, whose essays, memoirs, novels and screenplays chronicled contemporary American society, as well as her grief over the deaths of her husband and daughter, has died at the age of 87.    The cause of death was Parkinson’s disease, her publisher Knopf said Thursday in a statement. Didion first emerged as a writer…

Pope Demands Humility in New Zinger-filled Christmas Speech

Pope Francis urged Vatican cardinals, bishops and bureaucrats Thursday to embrace humility this Christmas season, saying their pride, self-interest and the “glitter of our armor” was perverting their spiritual lives and corrupting the church’s mission. As he has in the past, Francis used his annual Christmas address to take Vatican administrators to task for their…