News You Should Read Today – December 26 – 2015

Iraqi Soldiers Close to Retaking RamadiIraqi soldiers close to retaking Ramadi

An Iraqi army spokesman says Iraqi troops have pushed deeper into the heart of Ramadi, where they have been engaged in a weeklong offensive to take back a government complex from Islamic State militants after losing control of the city seven months ago.

Recapturing the complex would tip the balance in Ramadi, once again giving the army control of the key city, which is the capital of Anbar province. But the neighborhood surrounding the complex is dotted with landmines.

The spokesman said Saturday that soldiers have used airstrikes to detonate some of the explosives and help them gain ground. He said they are now within a few hundred meters of the government complex.

But he declined to give a time frame for the final push to oust the militants from the city center, where more than 100 extremists are believed to be lodged. VOA

 

 

Dozens missing as landslide hits Myanmar jade region (Photo AFP)Dozens missing in Myanmar landslide

Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after a landslide struck a remote jade mining region in northern Myanmar, the second such incident in a month. Khin Maung Myint, a local member of the opposition National League for Democracy party, says the landslide took place Friday in Kachin state’s mining community of Hpakant.

He said Saturday that according to rescuers, one body was pulled from the rubble and at least 30 people were missing. Police said they could not yet confirm any fatalities. Tin Tun Aung, a Hpakant township policeman, said search operations continued Saturday, but he was unaware of any confirmed deaths.

A Nov. 21 landslide in the same region killed more than 100 people. The area is home to some of the world’s highest-quality jade. USA Today

 

 

Texas mosque fire on Christmas called suspicious (photo Stephenie Whitfield)Texas mosque fire on Christmas called suspicious

A two-alarm fire damaged a storefront mosque Friday in southwest Houston, and federal officials are saying the blaze has suspicious origins.

The fire was extinguished shortly after firefighters arrived, and no one was injured. But 200 people had been inside Savoy Masjid, the Arabic word for mosque, for Friday prayers about an hour before the 2:45 p.m. CT fire was reported, Houston fire officials said.

“To me it will be very hard to understand that something can happen like an accident, like electrical,” said Abdul Hurmane who opens the mosque daily. Few people were at the shopping center because of the Christmas holiday. Several other businesses in the shopping center were damaged because of the heavy smoke.

“With God’s grace, no one was hurt and nothing happened,” shopping-plaza owner Imran Momin told the Houston Chronicle. “It happened on Christmas, thank God. So God was looking out.” USA Today

 

 

Obama visits service members in Hawaii on Christmas dayObama visits service members in Hawaii on Christmas day

President Barack Obama celebrated Christmas in Hawaii with a visit to a Marine Corps base and leisure time with his family.

Obama’s visit to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay has become an annual tradition. He made his appearance in the base’s cafeteria, where he spoke about the six U.S. airmen killed in a suicide bombing last week outside Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Service members and their families had gathered in the cafeteria to greet the president and first lady Michelle Obama, who were dressed casually for Hawaii’s tropical weather. The president said his annual visit to the base has become one of his family’s favorite things to do at the holidays because it allows them to say thank you for the members’ military service, and the sacrifices of their families.

Earlier in the day, the president made phone calls to other service members from each branch of the military who are stationed around the world. On Christmas morning, the Obama family opened gifts together and sang Christmas carols. VOA

How animals can give you tuberculosis (www.cnn.com)How animals can give you tuberculosis

In 2014, an estimated 9.6 million people were infected by tuberculosis, according to the World Health Organization. Potentially fatal — 1.5 million died from it the same year — it is a disease known to be spread from human to human. But a subset of those contracting the disease today are getting it from infected animals.

Unbeknownst to many, tuberculosis can spread through your food, as well as the air, via infected animals. The most common culprits? Infected cattle. The most common source? Their infected food products, such as milk and cheese.

Cows and many other animals can harbor bovine tuberculosis (TB), a disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium bovis — a close relative of the bacteria that cause human tuberculosis. Risk of human disease rises when animal infections aren’t controlled.

The highest rates of bovine TB cases in the United States are found along the U.S.- Mexican border, according to Colleen Scott, Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CNN

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