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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

AHEPA:Japan Relief Fund;Israel:weapons&Kosovo;Cyprus&PA;Russian tourists&trade w/U.S.;Orthodox:Uganda,S.Sudan

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), the leading membership-based association for the nation's three million American citizens of Greek heritage and Philhellenes, has made available its Emergency Relief Fund to help the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. Since its inception, the Emergency Relief Fund has provided disaster relief to aid the greater community, including: Haitian Earthquake (2010), Greek Wildfires Relief (2007), September 11 Relief (2001-2002), and Athens Earthquake (1999), among others. To make a donation to the AHEPA Emergency Relief, please click here - and then click the "AHEPA Emergency Relief Fund" button. Donations may also be sent via mail to: AHEPA Emergency Relief Fund, Attn: Japanese Earthquake, 1909 Q Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20009.

The Israeli navy reported that it has intercepted - off its Mediterranean coast - an Egyptian-bound ship carrying a weapons, saying that it had been sent by Syria to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. The military said that the cargo vessel initially departed Syria, making a stop in Turkey, before departing for Egypt, adding that Turkey had no involvement in the arms shipment.

The Israeli embassy in Belgrade released in a statement in response to rumors that it may have changed its stance on Kosovo's unilateral decleration of indepence from Serbia. Israel reiterated that it had not recognized Kosovo's independece and sees no reason to change its position. The province's ethnic Albanians unilaterally declared independence over three years ago, which was rejected by Serbia's authorities as an illegal act of secession.

After an official visit in Israel, Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias arrived in Ramallah and was received by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Christofias laid a wreath at grave of former PA President Yasser Arafat. Since its decleration in 1988, Cyprus has recognized an independent Palestinian state.

The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) reports that tourist trends from Russia to Cyprus this coming summer season are exceptionally optimistic. This report is based on contracts with big tour operators who specialize in Cyprus and who bring tourists to Cyprus. In comparing 2009 and 2010 tourism from Russia, Cyprus saw an increase of 50 percent with 223,000 tourists, adding that safety and quality of services in Cyprus are factors in attracting tourists.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called for expanding trade with Russia on Monday. Biden said that the "next frontier in [U.S-Russia] relationship will be building stronger ties of trade and commerce that match the security cooperation we have achieved." He also called for admitting Russia to the World Trade Organization.

The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, Theodoros II, has ordained two deacons to serve the Orthodox Church in Uganda and Southern Sudan. Speaking at the ordination at Monde Orthodox Church in Luweero District on Sunday, Patriarch Theodoros II emphasised preaching the message of hope to the sick, oppressed, elderly and the youth in areas facing poverty and war. "You are moving out to serve the people but emphasis should be on preaching the message of hope to a population that faces many challenges, including war and poverty." The patriarch added that the worlds needs a message of hope and the oppressed, sick and elderly need to be encouraged to seek God as the answer to their plight. The Archbishop of the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, said the Church is currently strengthening its programmes in the country, which include providing scholarships and building schools.