News You Should Read Today – December 26 – 2015

Child hunger, malnutrition on rise in AfricaChild hunger, malnutrition on rise in Africa

The U.N. Children’s Fund warns poor rainfall and the El Nino weather phenomenon are putting hundreds of thousands of children at risk of hunger and disease in parts of eastern and southern Africa.

Some countries in eastern and southern Africa have endured two seasons of poor or non-existent rainfall. This situation is being exacerbated by a strong El Nino, a warming weather phenomenon that is expected to peak in the first few months of the new year.

The U.N. children’s fund reports the well-being of hundreds of thousands of children already suffering from food shortages is likely to worsen under these conditions.

UNICEF reports food emergencies are affecting around 855,000 people in Somalia, and the number of people currently short of food in Zimbabwe is expected to triple between January and March to 1.5 million. The U.N. agency said it is particularly concerned about high levels of malnutrition among young children in Malawi. VOA



China’s dubious new anti-terror law set to passChina’s dubious new anti-terror law set to pass

China is set to pass its controversial new anti-terrorism law on Sunday, the largely rubber-stamp parliament said on Friday, despite U.S. criticism about its cyber provisions and concerns over human rights.

The draft law, which could require technology firms to install “back doors” in products or to hand over sensitive information such as encryption keys to the government, also has been criticized by some Western business groups.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he had raised concern about the law directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In a brief statement, China’s National People’s Congress said it would hold a news briefing on Sunday to talk about the law, following the end of parliament’s latest law-making session.

Parliament does not challenge or block legislation proposed by the ruling Communist Party, meaning it is certain to pass.

This week, the U.S. State Department said it had expressed “serious concerns” about the law, which it said would do more harm than good against the threat of terrorism. China’s Foreign Ministry hit back, saying technology companies had nothing to fear and the U.S. had no right to intervene. VOA



New message from ISIS leaderNew message from ISIS leader

As ISIS fends off ground attacks around places like Ramadi and airstrikes by U.S., Russian and other forces, its leader purportedly fired back in an audio message that surfaced online Saturday, mocking the Western coalition aligned against him, threatening Israel and trying to boost his own forces’ morale.

“Soldiers of the Islamic State be patient because you are on the right path,” says the man, who is identified on ISIS-affiliated social media accounts as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “Be patient, because God is with you.” CNN could not independently verify the man speaking is indeed Baghdadi, the much-reviled head of the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

He isn’t often heard from or seen, the last such example coming last May in a reported online audio statement. Regardless, those who posted the audio message that appeared Saturday appeared to believe it came from Baghdadi, and was produced by the group’s al-Furqan Media wing.

It’s not clear when the 24-minute tape was recorded, as it makes no reference to recent ISIS-related operations such as the terror attacks in Paris or the downing of a Russian commercial jet out of Egypt. CNN



Tornadoes in Texas killed eightTornadoes in Texas killed eight

Severe storms and tornadoes tore through north Texas, killing eight people in the latest incident of deadly weather in the nation. The storms hit Dallas suburbs Saturday evening, with Garland suffering the most casualties, authorities said.

In some neighborhoods, houses had gaping holes after the storms ripped apart their facades. Overturned cars sat in some driveways. Officials said five of the deaths were related to vehicles hit by a tornado in southeast Garland. Garland resident Pat McMillian said the tornado destroyed buildings and left neighborhoods in darkness.

Three additional deaths were reported in Collin County, said Chris Havey, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. Garland authorities said there were injuries reported, but the number and conditions are not immediately available. CNN



Boss of collapsed China mine kills selfBoss of collapsed China mine kills self

The owner of a gypsum mine in China’s eastern Shandong province has killed himself, as rescuers try to reach 17 miners who have been trapped for two days, state media report. One person died and four miners escaped when the mine collapsed on Friday. Since then, rescue workers have managed to pull a number of miners to safety. China has a long history of industrial accidents. The latest incident comes days after a deadly landslide caused by construction waste in southern China.

Ma Congbo, the chairman of Yurong company which owns the mine, drowned himself by jumping into a mine well early on Sunday, China’s Xinhua news agency reports. His motive is not clear but the Chinese authorities have toughened the punishment of employers who are negligent, says the BBC’s Stephen Evans in Beijing. Mr Ma killed himself two days after the mine collapsed in Pingyi County’s Linyi city, Shandong Province, just before 20:00 local time. It is not yet clear what caused the collapse.

Rescuers have drilled a hole to access some of the trapped workers, and are trying to transfer food and water, officials say. More than 700 emergency officials are involved in rescue efforts, according to Linyi Mayor Zhang Shuping. BBC

Percentage of Christians in US remains high, poll finds ( of Christians in US remains high, poll finds

About 75 percent of Americans still identify as Christians, after a 5-percent drop since 2008, according to a new Gallup poll, which also shows that the number of those having no formal religious identification has increased by 5 percent, amounting to 20 percent.

A review of more than 174,000 interviews conducted by Gallup this year shows that three-quarters of American adults identify as Christians, little changed from 2014, but down from 80 percent eight years ago, the survey says.

“Despite these changes, America remains a predominantly Christian nation, and with 94% of those who identify with a religion saying they are Christian,” the poll notes, adding that the percentage of Christians is highest among older Americans and decreases with each progressively younger age group.

The Christian category in the poll includes Catholics, Protestants, Mormons and non-denominational Christians. The poll shows that the percentage of Christians is highest among older Americans and decreases with each progressively younger age group. Christianpost

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