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Greece’s parliament legalises same-sex marriage

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The Greece parliament has approved a bill allowing same-sex marriage in the country.

The bill which was passed on Thursday, received overwhelming support from lawmakers, with 176 votes for and 76 against in the 300-seat parliament, after a fiery debate that lasted two days.

In addition to approving same-sex marriage, the lawmakers also granted LGBTQ couples permission to adopt children.

It also hands same-sex couples the rights of a child’s legal guardian. Previously, such rights only applied to biological parents.

After his re-election last year, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece prime minister, pledged to pass the new legislation.

Mitsotakis, who has also been vocal about legalising same-sex unions, told his cabinet that it was a matter of equal rights and not a strange subject, citing similar legislations in other countries.

He said his administration would ensure that there are no “second-class citizens” or “children of a lesser God”.

Greece is one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries where the traditional family model holds sway.

The heavily influential orthodox church views homosexuality as an anomaly, hence, the new laws have met some resistance.

Many Christian conservatives held a protest rally in Athens, the Greek capital, displaying banners, holding crosses, reading prayers, and singing passages from the Bible in Syntagma Square.

A statement from the church said the measure would “corrupt the homeland’s social cohesion”.

However, the vote has been welcomed by LGBTQ organisations in Greece.

The BBC reports that fifteen of the European Union’s 27 members have already legalised same-sex marriage, which is now permitted in 35 countries worldwide.

Greece has until now been behind some of its European neighbours, largely because of opposition from the church.

It is now the first country in south-eastern Europe to have marriage equality.

The country had extended civil partnerships to same-sex couples in 2015, but stopped short of extending equal parental rights at the time.

The development also comes amid deep divisions within the Catholic Church, following Pope Francis’ approval of blessings for queer couples.

But in an interview last month, Francis said he was not bothered about the split in the church, saying “you have to let them go and pass… and look ahead”.

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Iran launches attack on Israel in retaliation move

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Iran has launched an attack on Israel with drones and missiles.

The drones are expected to take several hours to reach Israel.

The attack is believed to be a retaliatory move following an April 1 attack reportedly carried out by Israel on the Iranian embassy in Syria, which killed seven Iranian military officers.

The attack will escalate the tension in the Middle East amid the ongoing war between Isreal and Hamas, which has recorded high casualty.

The United States had earlier warned that Iran could launch a major attack on Israel with more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles aimed at military targets inside the country.

The US State Department has issued a travel advisory to Americans in Israel not to move outside major cities in order to be protected by the Dome missile defense system.

While addressing the nation, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, said the country is ready for the attack and will respond accordingly.

“Citizens of Israel, in recent years, and even more so in recent weeks, Israel has been preparing for the possibility of a direct attack from Iran,” Netanyahu said.

“Our defense systems are deployed, and we are prepared for any scenario, both in defense and offense. The State of Israel is strong, the IDF is strong, the public is strong.”

Joe Biden, president of the United States, on Friday, said the country would defend Isreal in the event of an attack from Iran.

“We will support Israel; we will help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed,” Biden said.

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Watch the moment sun eclipsed in Dallas

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Nigerian United States-based couple in Dallas captures the moment of the total solar eclipse that crossed North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had earlier announced that on Monday, a total solar eclipse would traverse North America, spanning across Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Watch video here

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Time, path, duration… what to know about today’s solar eclipse

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Today, April 8, the moon will block the sun for approximately four minutes in a natural phenomenon known as a solar eclipse.

The expected eclipse is an experience many say will be one of the recent most spectacular celestial events.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and, for a short time, completely blocks the face of the sun.

For residents of the United States, where some of the eclipse will be happening, it will particularly be a treat.

The last one was in August 2017 but an interval of seven years is unusual. The previous one before that took place in 1979, and the next one will be in 2044.

Here are some things to know about the solar eclipse.

WHY ARE ECLIPSES NOT FREQUENT?

There are different kinds of eclipses — solar, lunar, annular, partial, and hybrid.

Depending on how they align, they provide a unique, exciting view of either the sun or the moon.

While an eclipse season happens twice a year, a solar eclipse only happens occasionally, because the moon does not orbit in the same plane as the sun and earth do.

As such, people in the centre of the moon’s shadow will experience a total eclipse when it hits earth.

The sky will darken and if there is favourable weather, those located in the path of a total solar eclipse can see the sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere, which is otherwise usually obscured by the bright face of the sun.

WILL IT ONLY HAPPEN IN THE US?

Mexico’s Pacific coast is the first point of totality on the path, expected at 11:07 a.m. PT (19:07 p.m. local time) before the eclipse begins its journey across North America.

The total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Mexico, Canada, and more than 10 US states, while a crescent-shaped partial eclipse is expected to appear in 49 other states — if the weather permits.

HOW TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE

Except during the brief total phase when the moon shrouds the sun, solar viewing is not safe without specialised eye protection.

Those living in the path of totality have a front-row seat to the eclipse. However, people in a different zone can watch NASA’s live stream here.

Also, via NASA’s eclipse explorer, you can enter any US address or zip code to find out what will be visible from that location.

IMPACT ON THE PLANET (WEATHER CHANGES)

During a solar eclipse, sunlight wanes and stops heating the ground, leading to a cooling effect on the lower atmosphere. This cooling can impact various aspects of the weather, such as inducing thunderstorms in areas where it isn’t cloudy, affecting wind patterns, increasing relative humidity, and even causing clouds to dissipate, especially low-level cumulus clouds.

The eclipse’s influence on weather can be observed not only during the event but also in the aftermath, with changes in wind direction and speed being noted during and after eclipses.

HAS NIGERIA EVER EXPERIENCED A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

Nigeria has experienced a total solar eclipse in the past. The most recent total solar eclipse in Nigeria occurred on March 29, 2006, and lasted for about four minutes.

The eclipse was visible in parts of the country, including Benue, Katsina, Zamfara, Jigawa, and Oyo.

The next total solar eclipse in Nigeria is expected to occur in 2034.

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