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Archive for August 31st, 2016

Egyptian Strawberries ‘Thought to be the Source’ of Hepatitis Outbreak in USA

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on August 31, 2016

TheNile

Three years after the Obama administration allowed Egyptian strawberry producers access to U.S. markets, imported strawberries from Egypt are “thought to be the source” of an outbreak of hepatitis A that has sickened 44 people in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

Frozen Egyptian strawberries used at Tropical Smoothie Café are thought to be the source of this outbreak,” VDH reported. The 44 people infected with the hepatitis A virus “reported consuming a smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Café prior to becoming ill.”

On August 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified VDH that genetic testing of multiple ill persons showed the illnesses were caused by a strain of hepatitis A that had been associated with past outbreaks due to frozen strawberries from Egypt,” according to an August 26 VDH press release.

spokeswoman told CNSNews.com. “Other restaurants, and firms that supply restaurants, may also have received the frozen strawberries imported from Egypt.

“VDH continues to investigate cases and work with state and federal partners, including the Virginia Department of Agruculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the CDC to identify additional locations where the product may have been distributed.”

Hepatitis A causes inflammation of the liver. Symptoms include jaundice, pain, fever and nausea. VDH noted that 50 percent of those infected by the virus, who range in age from 15 to 68, had to be hospitalized.

A statement issued by Tropical Smoothie Café on August 19th stated that “our cafes and their food handling practices have not been implicated in any way – the health department believes this is a single product issue (strawberries) sourced from Egypt.

Egyptian strawberries represent a fraction of our overall strawberries purchased and were predominantly distributed to stores in the Virginia market. Today, our strawberries are primarily sourced from Mexico and California,” the statement continued.

However, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily pulled all strawberries sourced from Egypt from every café in our system, not only the Virginia cafes. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and crew members and we will continue to cooperate with health authorities.”

Egypt, which is the world’s fourth largest strawberry producer, exports 40 million tons of fresh and frozen strawberries to 30 countries, including the U.S.

Source

Saharan Dust From Africa Brings Hazy Skies to Texas Gulf Coast

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Egypt’s New Law On Churches Angers Christian Critics

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on August 31, 2016

EgyptianCopts

Egypt’s lawmakers on Tuesday passed the country’s first law spelling out the rules for building a church, a step Christians have long hoped would free up construction that was often blocked by authorities. But angry critics in the community say the law will only enshrine the restrictions.

Church building has for decades been one of the most sensitive sectarian issues in Egypt, where 10 percent of the population of 90 million are Christians but where Muslim hardliners sharply oppose anything they see as undermining what they call the country’s “Islamic character.”

Local authorities often refuse to give building permits for new churches, fearing protests by Muslim ultraconservatives. Faced with refusals, Christians turned to building illegally or setting up churches in other buildings, which in many cases prompted riots and attacks by ultraconservatives. In contrast, building a mosque faces few restrictions.

Christians had hoped that the law would enshrine broad rights to build, encouraged by promises from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The Christian minority has been among el-Sissi’s staunchest supporters ever since, as army chief, he led the military’s ouster Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013 and launched a heavy crackdown on Morsi’s supporters.

But the law left critics, including some Christian lawmakers, embittered, warning that it will maintain Christian’s second-class status. The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which most Egyptian Christians belong, had at first opposed the bill but later backed it — and critics say it bent to heavy government pressure.

Under the law passed Tuesday, Christians must apply to the local provincial governor when they want to build a church.

The law stipulates that the size of the church must be “appropriate” to the number of Christians in the area. According to an official supplement to the law, the governor should also take into account “the preservation of security and public order” when considering the application.

The law “empowers the majority to decide whether the minority has the right to hold their religious practices,” said Ishaq Ibrahim, a top researcher in the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Christian activist and researcher Nader Shukry said the security and order provisions connected to the law still mean authorities can still use threats of mob violence as an excuse to ban church construction.

What if Salafis protest against the construction of a church, would this prompt the governor to turn down the request, for fear of national security?” he said.

He and other activists also warned that authorities can also limit churches by citing the article that restricts the size of churches according to the size of the local Christian community, because there are no official statistics on the Christian population.

The government has never released an official figure for the Christian population, viewing the statistic as a sensitive national security matter. Activists believe the government doesn’t want to show how large the community actually is.

Youssef Sedhom, the chief editor of the Coptic weekly Watani, wrote Sunday that the law shows the state wants to continue to have “full mandate and monopoly” over the Copts and their churches. The provisions are “vague” and empower local authorities to say “yes, this is allowed” or “no, this is not allowed,” he wrote.

The law does allow churches built without permits in the past to be recognized, if the construction meets regulations and if religious rites have been held there over the past five years.

But critics say that many such churches were shut down by force, so no rites were held, while others were not built according to specifications since they were hastily converted from residential buildings.

Source

Ezekiel29

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Christians Need Not Apply: Few Syrian Christian Refugees Allowed into US

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on August 31, 2016

ChristianSyrianRefugee

The Obama administration has surpassed its goal of receiving 10,000 Syrian refugees by Oct. 1, but very few of the new arrivals are Christian.

The official count for the fiscal year reached 10,126 resettled Syrians when 224 refugees arrived Monday. They are among 12,000 Syrian refugees interviewed earlier this year in Jordan by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Although 1 million Christians have fled Syria, Christians comprise only 0.51 percent of the refugee total. More than 98 percent of those allowed into the United States this fiscal year are Sunni Muslims, the largest Islamic sect in Syria comprising 74 percent of that population.

Some Christians believe the Syrian Christian immigration numbers should be much higher; the percentage of those allowed into the United States should reflect their percentage of the population in Syria.

Last September, President Obama pledged to increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed to enter the United States. He set a goal of 10,000, six times the number of those allowed to enter the U.S. in FY 2015 when a total of 1682 were admitted – that compared to only 105 Syrian refugees admitted in FY 2014.

Although Christians are 10 percent of the Syrian population, only 100 Syrian Christian refugees have been allowed to enter the United States since the start of the civil war more than five years ago.

Why so few Christians?

Earlier this year some of the Republican presidential candidates–Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump said greater immigration priority should be given to Syrian Christians over Muslims.

President Obama has argued there should be no religious litmus test for admitting Syrian refugees. He said such a policy would be un-American.

“When individuals say we should have a religious test and that only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted, that’s offensive and contrary to American values,” the president said.

Last March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that atrocities committed by the Islamic State against Yazidis, Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria constituted genocide.

But so far, the genocide declaration has not changed the number of affected minorities allowed into the United States. In addition to receiving only 52 Christians this fiscal year, the government has only admitted 14 Yazidis and 20 Shi’a Muslims into the country (official figures released before the Monday arrivals).

The Obama administration has yet to announce its goal for next year, but immigration observers expect the number to be set at 20,000. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she’d like to see the number increased to 65,000.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says that would amount to a 500 percent increase in Syrian refugees admitted into the country. He has called it a “bigger version of the legendary Trojan Horse.”

He and other Republicans say the government lacks a thorough vetting program for the refugees and the current process exposes the people of the U.S. to the possibility of more Islamic terror attacks like those that occurred in San Bernardino and Orlando.

Source

Syrian patriarch fears Christianity is being wiped out in Middle East

Why Western Nations Should Only Accept Christian Refugees

Why We Don’t See More Christian Refugees

How Mullah Obola Al-Baraki approved agency chooses nearly all Sunni Muslims

AlBaraqiThe year was 2007, and the late Father Keith Roderick of Christian Solidarity and I had formed a fact-finding mission to Lebanon and Iraq to investigate the condition of Christians who were fleeing Iraq after the United States had overthrown Saddam Hussein and the nation had deteriorated into a state of chaos. As part of the delegation, we recruited Gov. David Beasley, R-S.C., and investigative journalist Ken Timmerman. What we found was shocking.

The acting American ambassador to Jordan at the time, David Hale, had zero interest in the plight of Christians, as his main personal agenda was “gay rights.” He actually wanted those of us on the fact-finding team to have a picture taken with him in the Embassy in front of his wall tapestry, which was in reality a rainbow flag – not the American flag.

It was disturbing to hear him and his staff talk about the Christians. When we asked if anyone on staff had contacted any churches about the plight of the Iraqi Christians, we were told, “It isn’t our job to go to church.” For some reason, gays in the State Department are attracted to Muslim nations. Hale is currently the American ambassador to Pakistan, having been appointed by President Obama.

Jordanian guards had been hired by Hale, presumably with the permission of the State Department, to form a primary perimeter around the U.S. Embassy. Any Iraqi citizen who approached was told verbally to go to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) office in Amman. There were no exceptions, not even for those who had relatives in the United States who would sponsor them, nor for those who had worked with the United States military in Iraq and were thus endangered.

Because the vast majority of Jordanians are Sunni Muslims, the entire staff of the UNHCR dealing with refugees was and still is Sunni Muslim. The female staffers of the UNHCR work in hijabs, and of course everyone on the UNHCR staff can recognize the Christian surnames of some applicants. The Christian applicants have been treated accordingly. Many Christian refugees were forced to flee to Jordan with their families because they had worked for the United States military in Iraq.

As the occupation force downsized and contractors also departed, Christians who had worked for them found themselves not only out of work but targets of Sunni terrorists as well.

As I write about the mission nine years later, I recall some of the testimonies that were given me by Iraqi Christians about how the middle-class lives they once had in Iraq crumbled as law and order vanished. One that still rattles my brain is the weeping of a mother whose daughter was kidnapped when the family refused to give her in marriage to a Muslim who had moved into the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad. The girl was kidnapped and $100,000 demanded.

The family sold most of what they had and paid the money only to find the 16-year-old dumped at their doorstep with a cut throat the next morning. The kidnappers called the family to taunt them by saying they killed her to break the hearts of Christians. The Dora neighborhood had 30,000 Christians before the 2003 invasion and by 2008 had virtually no Christians left. Of the 1.3 million pre-war Christians in Iraq, perhaps 400,000 remain. Virtually none made it to America.

Today the Obama administration still relies on the UNHCR to “vet” refugees.

On Aug. 29, President Barack Obama reached his goal of 10,000 Syrian “refugees” almost all of whom are Sunni Muslims chosen by the United Nations. Patrick Goodenough of CNS News, who has dogged this story, reported that with the arrival of 224 new Syrian refugee this week brings “… the total this fiscal year to 10,126, of whom 52 or 0.51 percent are Christians; and 9,945 or 98.2 percent, are Sunni Muslims.”

Just one-half of 1 percent of the 10,000 Syrians were Christians despite the fact that over 10 percent of the Syrian population is Christian. The Sunni population at about 60 percent should not represent 98.2 percent of refugees. However, almost all of those working for the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees in Jordan, where the “refugees” were chosen, are Sunni Muslims.

At the same time Christians victims are ignored by President Obama and the media. The “mainstream” media fail to report true horror surrounding the persecution of Christians. Christians have faced the that the Islamic State has to offer – crucifixions, beheadings, gang rapes, sex slavery, beatings and robbery – but it is rare that the mainstream media report this fact to the public.

When news articles do appear they are watered down. On Aug. 10, this year, an Associated Press article appeared by Balint Szanko titled “Christians say defeating Islamic State won’t make Iraq safe for them.” Although the reporter refers to the eviction of the Christians from Qaraqosh on the Nineveh Plain and their lives now in Ankawa in the Kurdish area, the full terror they endured is not reported.

Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States, there were 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. The vice president of Iraq was a Christian, as was the head of Saddam Hussein’s air force at the time of the First Gulf War, Georges Sada. He was retired before the Second Gulf War, but sided with the opposition to Saddam and as a result became the national security adviser in the new government the United States established. Sada is alive today and living in the United States, and I have had the opportunity to speak with him often about Iraq and the two wars.

Because of the size of the Christian population and the fact that Iraq had a secular government, Christians fared better than in most majority-Muslim nations. That does not mean they were treated equally. For example, all given names on birth certificates had to be names that appeared in the Quran, so no Christian first names were allowed.

The thrust of Szanko’s article was that 90 percent of the Christians in one of the camps would leave “if organized migration was possible.” What the article does not mention is that most Christians forced from their homes are not in U.N. camps. They are “urban refugees” often living in slum basements for fear of persecution in the U.N.-run camps. As a result they are not considered refugees and are not registered with the United Nations. Since the Obama administration only accepts refugees referred by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, there is no possible way for most Christians to immigrate to the USA.

Source

DHS Tweets ‘Refugees Welcome’ After Obama Successfully Imports 10,000 Syrians Ahead of Schedule

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