>> welcome to al jazeera america. i'm richelle carey. here are the stories we're following for you. pope francis attends his first christmas mass. edward snowden broadcasts an alternative christmas message on britain's channel four television. and parts of the u.s. still without heat following an ice storm that brought down power lines. ♪ today pope francis delivered his first christmas message at the vatican from the balcony he
offered wishes for a better world and a call for peace in the middle east and africa. >> translator: prince of peace, and every place turn hearts aside from violence, and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. >> as christians gathered for the pope's message, christians from around the world have travelled to bethlehem to celebrate where many believe jesus was born. nick what is it like there? >> reporter: richelle it is really relaxed. you can see the tree right there, and that's the church nate tiffty where it is believed that yes s-- jesus was born. there is a real celebratory
atmosphere here. they are all come here to celebrate this day, and the turnout has been higher than normal. that has boosted hope here for peace. there are a lot of people here praying for peace right now. the israelis and palestinians are currently negotiating, and right here in this town where jesus was believed to have been born, a lot of people are hoping that peace can come so more tour uses can come in. >> nick let's talk more about that that. are there any concerns over safety in the west bank? >> right now, absolutely not. there has been some incidence in gaza over the last 24 hours between israel, and what israel calls militants in gaza. but for the most part it has been pretty quiet.
and for the first time in 600 years this church is getting a facelift. there have been a lot of storms here in the last couple of weeks, and water pours down the walls into this church, so what they have finally done after years of negotiation and diplomacy, they have secured some money to say let's renovate this church. they are going to upgrade the roof, the stuccos and the mosaics on the walls, and in about four or five years it will be completely revamped, and more hope that more can come here. >> these renovations are so long over due, so it's good to know they are supposed to last about 500 years. nick, thank you so much. santa claus or father frost has he is known in russia
brought prouds to the russian zoo. two out of three russians consider themselves orthodox christians. syrian refugees in jordan attended christmas services. jordan has received more than 1 million refugees since fighting began two years ago mexicans packed theaters across the country to celebrate christmas with traditional place about the birth of jesus, but the plays have a twist with new scripts every year, and some even make fun of politicians and celebrities. mexico has the second largest catholic population in the world. edward snowden is making his first televised appearance since taking asylum in russia. >> service and duty are not just
the guiding principles of yesteare year they have an expanding value. >> she looked back on her time since being crowned 60 years ago. meanwhile snowden's address is expected to discuss the duty of governments not to spy on their own citizens. phil ittner is life in london with more on his holiday message. tell us about this alternative address from snowden, phil. >> richelle edward snowden apparently taped this in moscow and it will be airing shortly on britain's channel 4. we expect -- we do have an early release transcript of what he will say, and the bulk of it is about privacy issues, and in particular edward snowden says that children born today may
grow up in a world where they have no idea what personal privacy is. he -- he pointed out several issues about technology and how easy it is to eavesdrop on all of us now a days with our smartphones and internet access. he also in particular points out the british author george orewell's 1984 novel in which of course famously there is the presence of big brother in everyone's lives. so it this a tradition in britain, and many will be looking to see exactly what edward snowden says. as you say his first televised appearance. >> you say that this is a tradition in britain. give us a little bit more of the history of this channel 4 alternative address. who else has done this?
>> well, notably then iranian president did it one year. channel 4 started this in 1993. the royal christmas address is something that has been going on for decades, even before television it was done on the radio. there -- there -- channel 4 sets this up and says that they present people to give the alternative christmas address from figures that are culturally relevant. like i said this has included people like ahmadinejad, but it has also included marge simpson. [ laughter ] >> so it is a wide range. sometimes it is quite serious, and sometimes it draws controversy. >> that's an interesting group you just mentioned there. phil ittner merry christmas to
you. christians were targeted in three separate bombings in bagdad today. 37 people were killed. so far no one has taken credit for the christmas day attack. the catholics have been a common target for al-qaeda militants. more than 8,000 people have been killed in iraq this year. this was also an attack on the u.s. embassy in iran this morning. the taliban immediately claimed responsibility. three government ministers have resigned as the ongoing political turmoil in turkey grows wider. each has a son who was arrested last week in a corruption and bribery raid. tensions have been high between the government and courts since the arrests. fighting continues in south
sudan, clashes erupted after a power struggle between the president and former vice president. we want to warn you, some of the individual you you are about to see is very disturbing. >> reporter: this part of bor is very, very quiet. there are hardly any people here. and occasionally we hear sporadic gunfire. bodies here have started becomposing. the go took back the state on tuesday. they say they are now in control. some people are wondering where are have the rebels gone to. some bodies have been burned. we have no idea what happened to this gentlemen here for example. people are still scared and that's why thousands are still staying at the un compounds.
civilians are concerned that some of the rebels have taken off their uniforms and blended into the population. the average person wants the fighting to end. the former vice president says he wants to sit down and talk to the president, but he wants all of those arrested for coup mroot released from prison. power has been turned back on for about 40,000 people, about 70,000 are still waiting for electricity. utili utility workers are facing major challenges. and in michigan more than 150,000 homes have light or power this evening. more snow and ice is expected through the weekend with temperatures dipping well below
syria children in lebanon are going a chance to act like kids if only for one day. >> reporter: these children from syria are reciting their christmas wishes. and they don't include new toys. ♪ >> reporter: santa, i want my old clothes back, they sing, i want my old toys and to go back home. ♪ >> reporter: in the freezing cold of lebanon, in a makeshift refugee camp, a makeshift school of tents, a safe zone for these children. almost 500 students come here to
get an education, psychological support and even some food. a non-governmental organization from lebanon uses money to try to create a safe haven for these children. they are under tremendous pressure says the director, and the goal is to alleviate some of their suffering, and give them some emotional support. >> translator: we can watch buildings destroyed, neighborhoods wiped, but to see a whole generation destroyed is not acceptable. ♪ >> reporter: although most children here are muslims, maria says it's important to celebrate christmas like they celebrate other non-christian holidays. >> translator: to teach them coexistence to celebrate each other's holidays, to give them a break from their reality. >> reporter: last year this girl lost her father to the war in syria, and last week her mother died during a snow storm that
hit lebanon. yet she still can sing. ♪ >> reporter: this girl is only four, and she is an orphan as well. most of these children have lost something or someone. i want to forget the suffering. i want my toys back this girl sings. 12,000 children across lebanon received gifts like these, dolls and cars, and maybe most precious of all, hats to stay warm. hundreds of thousands of syrian children are dependent on charity for their basic needs. on this day they got much more in the spirit of christmas. in in south africa they are called the miracle trains. railroad cars filled with doctors stopping for weeks at a time in the pourest parts of the
country. it's a way of life in south africa. >> reporter: fear of the dentist is almost universal, especially if it's your first time. this 14-year-old may not be very impressed but he has just become the latest of 600,000 south africans to be treated at this you nick medical facility. this train has been delivering health care to impoverished rural areas for 19 years. as well as the dental carriage there are several others. >> a lot of people rely on the services that we offer. a lot of people look forward to us being back. a lot of questions we get is when is the trainment coming back? which is a very, very common question. >> reporter: this boy and his
grandmother travelled to two hours to get here. she has cataracts which is effecting her sight. on this train her glasses are made immediately and the cost is subsidized $3 a pair. if she couldn't afford it, they would be free. >> translator: i'm grateful for the train coming. it's a great help to me because i have a problem with my eyes, but now i can see far over there, even the ones that help me see close. i will be able to read write and do my bead work again. i'm very grateful. i have come a long way to be here. >> staff often work well into the night. spending up to two weeks at a station before moving on. >> next year they will have twice as many trains on the track.
at the fapharmacy this woman pa $0. $0.50 for medication for our grandson. now it's time to pack up and move on, a journey that started 19 years ago is still going. tanya paige, al jazeera, south africa. thousands of holiday gifts will not arrive in time by for christmas. up s says it has been overwhelmed with an unexpected amount of packages. and weather has added to the delays. sending first class mail will cost a little bit more next year. the cost will go up to $0.49. the u.s. postal service hopes to recoup about $2.8 billion in losses with the increase. the post office has been strugglinger for years as people
welcome back to al jazeera america. i'm richelle carey. here are today's headlines. pope francis is making his first christmas message at the vatican. today the pontiff delivered his christmas message in st. peters square. he is calling for an end to fighting in the middle east and africa, and talked about the suffering experienced by children in war zones. edward snowden gave britain's alternative christmas message to run counter to to the one made by the queen. thousands have been killed
in south sudan, and the un will now double its peace keeping troops. the military interim government has declared that the muslim brotherhood is a terrorist organization. most of the time we think of cloud sourcing as a way to fund personal projects, but in nepal crowd sourcing is being used to provide essential health services. al jazeera reports. >> reporter: at the community hospital in nepal's district, up to 500 people come for treatment ever day. people here say the hospital has been god send. its services are free and refers complicated cases to other hospitals and covers the cost.
the hospital doesn't just indicator to locals. >> we have people from all over the far west who come here for the services. >> reporter: the hospital was built after three medical students from yale university in the u.s. saw dire need for health care services in this region. back in the u.s. they started an organization and raised funds to start the health center. over a decade that health center has grown into a hospital. and now strangers from around the world can pick and choose a patient they would like to partially or fully fund for treatment. anyone can give money online to a patient needing a life-saving operation or even help a mother have a safe delivery. >> we saw this as an opportunity to improve care -- care that we were already providing, but
actually enable us to provide better care through this program. >> reporter: to see what impact crowd funding has had on patients we went to this village where this 21-year-old is a new mother. just a few years ago they had no facility for a sis syrian surgery. for a family like this the cost of a surgery would have been back breaking. >> reporter: for her husband the relief was enormous. the daughter is now one-month-old. the couple are grateful for the kindness of strangers who gave them the joy of parenthood. ♪
good morning, and happy holidays to you all. mother nature got her act together just in time for christmas day. a very quiet day across much of the country. we have a few snow showers across the great lakes but no accumulating snow. it will be very comfortable in terms of travel conditions, but if you are out and about a very chilly day on tap. most areas looking at temperatures into the 20s and 30s. 22 degrees in cleveland, 19 in pittsburgh, philadelphia at 25, and in new york city, at 22 degrees. in terms of the weather today this washington, d.c., you can expect mostly sunny skies. not looking at any snowfall there. tonight lows will drop down into the 20s, and that's pretty much the story in philadelphia as
well. over in boston right around 23 with a low of 20, and very little chance for snowfall. further south towards nashville, we're up to a high of 44, looking at sunny skies for the most part in atlanta. a high of 46, much chillier than we were last week. we say see scattered showers across portions of florida, including miami where they are up to a high of 77. lake effect snows around michigan, and back towards minneapolis. all in all, though, a very comfortable day. in st. st. we're reaching a high of 42, we might see a brief passing shower in st. louis, but very quiet overall. in indianapolis we may see a few snow showers as well, but overall a beautiful day in southern california the winds
are picking up quite a bit, increasing the fire danger, but for the most part it is a beautiful day. al jazeera spoke with the garden's executive director who narrates the story of this year's magical holiday exhibition. >> these structures are one of a kind. there have are no ore structures like them because they are made with plant parts. many of these plant parts are gathered from the woods. things like the acorn caps from oak trees and the tendrils from grape wines, and leaves from the forest floor. all of these are gathered and then used to make these amazing structures. we have been doing this exhibit for over six years, and we now have a regular following, and every year we change the theme.
and this year the theme is world fairs. many people have been to world fair. for example, we have the globe since at the 1964 world's fair in new york city. and then the fountain which is part of the u.s. botanic garden on exhibit in philadelphia in 1876. people are so happily surprised when they see what can be done with plant parts, and it really reaches all ages even though people might say, oh, it's for the children, that's not true. i feel it is a gift to the nation. it gives people a place to come where we're not selling anything. we're not a shopping mall. we're really here for -- for the people to make them excited about the holiday season, but also inspired about the importance of plants in our lives.