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Muhammed Faris: The First Syrian to visit Space is now a Refugee in Turkey

In Turkey, Muhammed Faris now lectures in schools and conferences while his son runs a language school

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Muhammed Faris

The fighting that erupted in Syriya in the year 2011 led many homeless and most than 2 millions have made Turkey their new home. But, Muhammed Faris, who was a national hero back then in Syria is now tagged as a refugee in Turkey.

Muhammed Faris worked in the Syrian Air Force as a colonel. He participated in the Interkosmos program and was selected to be a part of the Navigation team for his space shuttle to the Space Station in July 1987. Faris was also awarded the most coveted titles of ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and ‘Order of Linen’ for his stellar performance in his capacity as an astronaut.

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Today, Muhammed Faris has fled Syria and survives as a refugee in Turkey.

Faris is one of these 2 million refugees. Although he lives a much more comfortable life compared to the other, less fortunate refugees, he says he hopes to return to his home country one day.

MiG-23 of the Syrian Air Force on air base Hama. Image source: Syrian Airforce base camp on air base Hama
MiG-23 of the Syrian Air Force on air base Hama. Image source: sputniknews.com

In the two years that he spent in Russia to train for his missions, Faris developed a deep liking towards Russians. However, he blames Vladimir Putin for the destruction of children’s homes and inhuman slaughter of civilians.

According to Faris, Bashar Assed, the Syrian dictator, was inspired by Putin when he responded to a peaceful uprising in Syria with violent force, turning the whole ordeal into a civil war.

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Today, Muhammed Faris lectures in schools and conferences while his son runs a language school. Every time he interacts with the students, Faris always recounts that moment when he first saw the Earth from space. And for that reason, he urges his students to fight against wars and tyrants to save the blue Planet.

-by Saurabh Bodas

Saurabh is pursuing his engineering and is an intern at NewsGram. 

Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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Two-Wave U.S. Flu Season is Now the Longest in Ten Years

Still, this flu season is not nearly as bad as last winter's 19-week season, the deadliest in at least four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last season.

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Emergency room nurse Christine Bauer treats Joshua Lagade of Vista, California, for the flu in the emergency room at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, U.S., Jan.18, 2018. VOA

Three months ago, this flu season was shaping up to be short and mild in the U.S. But a surprising second viral wave has made it the longest in 10 years.

This flu season has been officially going for 21 weeks, according to reports collected through last week and released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes it among the longest seen since the government started tracking flu season duration more than 20 years ago.

Some experts likened the unusual double waves to having two different flu seasons compressed, back-to-back, into one.

“I don’t remember a season like this,” said Dr. Arnold Monto, a University of Michigan researcher who had been studying respiratory illnesses for more than 50 years.

Doctor
Still, this flu season is not nearly as bad as last winter’s 19-week season, the deadliest in at least four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last season. VOA

The previous longest recent flu season was 20 weeks, which occurred in 2014-2015.

Flu can cause a miserable, relatively mild illness in many people and a more severe illness in others. Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications. Flu vaccinations are recommended annually for all but the very young.

The current season began the week of Thanksgiving, a typical start time. At the beginning, most illnesses were caused by a flu strain that tends not to cause as many hospitalizations and which is more easily controlled by vaccines.

But in mid-February, a nastier strain started causing more illnesses and driving up hospitalizations.

Not helping matters: The harsher bug is not well matched to the vaccine, said the CDC’s Lynnette Brammer, who oversees flu tracking.

flu
Some experts likened the unusual double waves to having two different flu seasons compressed, back-to-back, into one. Pixabay

Still, this flu season is not nearly as bad as last winter’s 19-week season, the deadliest in at least four decades. An estimated 80,000 Americans died of flu and its complications last season.

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The CDC is estimating that flu-related deaths this season in the range of 35,000 to 55,000.

More good news: Brammer said that although the virus is notoriously unpredictable, signs suggest this flu season should be over soon.

“It’s on the verge” of being over, she said. “If nothing changes.” (VOA)