SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Racing to feed hungry and poor people, Muslim organizations and community members in the central British town of Blackburn have been cooperating with the city’s food bank to feed those in desperate need.
“It is a fact that one in five people are living below the poverty line,” Councilor Salim Sidat told Lancashire Telegraph.
“I’ve have been down to the food bank and you can see people are really struggling.
“They are in desperate need and we need a big push to help them,” he added.
The new initiative, launched in cooperation with the city’s food bank, aims to encourage longstanding and regular fundraising to feed hungry people.
It asks residents to donate ‘non-perishable’ food stuffs at a number of mosques and Islamic schools on Friday December 14 to help struggling families across the borough.
Suggested foods are UHT or powdered milk, sugar, long life fruit juice, tins of soup, pasta sauce and tinned tomatoes.
Other items also include breakfast cereals, rice, pasta, tea bags, biscuits and any other long life foods.
Organizers have set several collection points at different mosques and Islamic schools including Jamia Masjid on Cumberland Street, Noorul Islam in Audley Range, Ghosia Masjid on Chester Street, Masjide E Sajedeen on Plane Tree Road, Troy Street Masjid and Noorani Masjid.
Once all donations are collected, it will be dropped off at the Blackburn Foodbank Warehouse on Thursday December 20.
Blackburn with Darwen councilors and officers are also supporting the initiative as part of the Your Call campaign.
The Muslim efforts to help the needy won plaudits for uniting the British people and showing the true nature of Islam.
“This is an issue that affects many people across Blackburn and this is the time to show good relations between both white and Asian communities,” Councilor Sidat said.
“Muslims are being born and bred here and we shouldn’t have any divisions, we should look at everyone’s needs and address them accordingly.
British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.5 million, have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 2005 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
The anti-Muslim tide has also been on the rise across Europe, with several countries are restricting the freedom of Muslims to wearing face-veil and building mosques.- www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Facebook has just confirmed with me that it is launching a retweet-style “Share” button for the mobile news feed. The much-requested feature is now rolled out for the mobile site, and will soon come to the iOS and Android apps. Like the web version, it lets people take links and photos posted by someone else or even a Sponsored Story ad and quickly repost it with optional commentary.
Facebook has always been about personal updates, not blindly passing on links, but it could start looking a lot like Twitter soon. Inside Facebook reported the mobile site button was a test, but when I asked Facebook, the company confirmed this is not a test and all mobile site and app users will have it soon.
To try out the Share button, go to m.facebook.com and scroll through the feed until you see a story about a link, photo, video, or public status update posted by one of your friends or Pages you Like. The Share button is in the bottom right next to the Like and Comment buttons. It brings up a composer where you can add an optional description. When shared, the story will show “via [name of who originally posted it]“.
The new mobile Share button shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. It’s one of the most requested features. At at talk in September, when asked about whether a Share button was in the works for mobile, one Facebook mobile manager said “I want to use it. We build products that we want to use.” The team also remarked that there weren’t technical limitations stalling it.
That means Facebook was likely mulling over the impact it would have on the atmosphere of the news feed. Right now, most content shared to Facebook is relatively unique. Occasionally popular articles or memes get shared by lots of friends, but that’s a coincidence. When people do use the Share button on the web, they often give their own description of a link.
But on mobile where typing is more of a pain, a Share button could encourage people to rapidly re-share link after link. That might make the feed seem repetitive and impersonal. Similar to the low-friction, easy-to-tap retweet button Advertisers and marketers might be A-OK with that. Share buttons also appear on stories with internal links to Facebook Pages. Share could make links posted by Pages a lot more viral on Facebook. Finally, users can also Share ads they see in the news feed that are Sponsored Stories of links.
Facebook is surely monitoring the effect the mobile Share button has to make sure it doesn’t degrade the quality of the feed. One benefit it could have, though: you might start seeing from outside your personal social graph, which could expand your perspective on the world. Like seeing retweets of people you’d never follow, Share could bring dissenting opinions about world news and social issues to your feed.
Oh, and your memes and cat photos are going to go viral like never before.on Twitter mobile, Facebook users might Share instead of Liking.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Like thousands of American Muslims, Nadeem Zafar was setting a role model for a true Muslim who extends hands of help to his community to help needy and sick people.
“After 9/11, because of the actions of a few terrorists, all Muslim Americans were in the spotlight,” Zafar, director of the Pathology Residency Program at the UT Health Science Center, told The Commercial Appeal on Saturday, September 8.
“I think it's important for us as Muslim Americans not only to talk about the good we can do but to show it,” he added.
Becoming a US citizen in 2008, Zafar has been leading his fellow Asian Americans in Memphis over the past years to help needy Americans.
Last year, while Tennesseans were leading a protest against the Islamic center construction, he was leading a Memphis food drive.
Weeks ago, as some rural politicos were distributing flyers opposing the appointment of a native Middle Tennessean (and Muslim) to the governor's cabinet, Zafar and his fellow Pakistani physicians were distributing food to hungry people in rural West Tennessee.
Last month, while congressional candidates near Nashville were waging a rhetorical war on Islam, Zafar and his fellow Memphis-area Muslims were fasting and praying and collecting money for the cash-starved Mid-South Food Bank.
“We want to change perceptions,” Zafar said.
“We want to show people that we are here to help.”
Zafar, now a Food Bank board member, has enlisted the Association of Pakistani Physicians in organizing similar food drives around the country.
He's also working with Masjid Al-Mu'Minun, the city's oldest mosque on South Third, to open a food pantry, becoming the first Muslim food pantry in the country to be associated with the Food Bank network.
"There's no religion that does not promote feeding of the poor," Zafar said.
Seeing increasing demand for help from food banks, Muslim efforts to feed the hungry were urged.
"The need is constant," said Estella Mayhue-Greer, Food Bank president and CEO.
"As soon as the food comes in, it goes right back out."
Zafar and his fellow US Muslims were also turning to help the poor American patients.
Next weekend, the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America will administer free flu shots around the country.
"The Asian-American community has benefited much from America, and for many it is important to contribute back to the community," said Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease physician and member of the Greater Memphis Asian American and Pacific Islander Task Force.
Zafar and his wife, Dr. Seema Abbasi, a pediatrician, also volunteer at the Memphis Muslim Medical Clinic (MMMC) on Stratford.
Since opening in 1996, the weekend clinic and its medical volunteers have managed more than 4,000 patient visits.
Financed entirely by private donations from the Muslim community, the clinic serves people of all faiths.
Last month, the clinic was recognized at the Methodist Healthcare Foundation's 2012 Living Awards banquet for its commitment to faith and healing.
Though there are no official statistics, the US is believed to be home to 7-8 million Muslim.
Since the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims have complained of discrimination and stereotypes because of their Islamic attires or identities.
Despite the frenzy, they seized the opportunity to introduce a true message of Islam, through activism.
Extending new bridges into the community, new groups were established, such as American Muslim Voice, founded by Samina Sundas of Palo Alto.
There is also the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was founded to help Muslims engage with their neighbors in civic life.
A Muslim program, Day of Dignity, was also introduced nationwide seven years ago, aiming at serving homeless and vulnerable Americans, whether Muslim or not.
Every year, the nation-wide effort aims to serve more than 20,000 homeless and people in need in 15 cities throughout the United States.
People receive health screenings, free food, and a variety of goods depending on their particular city.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — With the world's population expected to grow from 6.8 billion today to 9.1 billion by 2050, a certain Malthusian alarmism has set in: how will all these extra mouths be fed? The world's population more than doubled from 3 billion between 1961 and 2007, yet agricultural output kept pace — and current projections (see page 546) suggest it will continue to do so. Admittedly, climate change adds a large degree of uncertainty to projections of agricultural output, but that just underlines the importance of monitoring and research to refine those predictions. That aside, in the words of one official at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the task of feeding the world's population in 2050 in itself seems “easily possible”.
Easy, that is, if the world brings into play swathes of extra land, spreads still more fertilizers and pesticides, and further depletes already scarce groundwater supplies. But clearing hundreds of millions of hectares of wildlands — most of the land that would be brought into use is in Latin America and Africa — while increasing today's brand of resource-intensive, environmentally destructive agriculture is a poor option. Therein lies the real challenge in the coming decades: how to expand agricultural output massively without increasing by much the amount of land used.
What is needed is a second green revolution — an approach that Britain's Royal Society aptly describes as the “sustainable intensification of global agriculture”. Such a revolution will require a wholesale realignment of priorities in agricultural research. There is an urgent need for new crop varieties that offer higher yields but use less water, fertilizers or other inputs — created, for example, through long-neglected research on modifying roots (see page 552) — and for crops that are more resistant to drought, heat, submersion and pests. Equally crucial is lower-tech research into basics such as crop rotation, mixed farming of animals and plants on smallholder farms, soil management and curbing waste. (Between one-quarter and one-third of the food produced worldwide is lost or spoiled.)
Developing nations could score substantial gains in productivity by making better use of modern technologies and practices. But that requires money: the FAO estimates that to meet the 2050 challenge, investment throughout the agricultural chain in the developing world must double to US$83 billion a year. Most of that money needs to go towards improving agricultural infrastructure, from production to storage and processing. In Africa, the lack of roads also hampers agricultural productivity, making it expensive and difficult for farmers to get synthetic fertilizers. And research agendas need to be focused on the needs of the poorest and most resource-limited countries, where the majority of the world's population lives and where population growth over the next decades will be greatest. Above all, reinventing farming requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves not just biologists, agronomists and farmers, but also ecologists, policy-makers and social scientists.
To their credit, the world's agricultural scientists are embracing such a broad view. In March, for example, they came together at the first Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development in Montpellier, France, to begin working out how to realign research agendas to help meet the needs of farmers in poorer nations. But these plans will not bear fruit unless they get considerably more support from policy-makers and funders.
The growth in public agricultural-research spending peaked in the 1970s and has been withering ever since. Today it is largely flat in rich nations and is actually decreasing in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where food needs are among the greatest. The big exceptions are China, where spending has been exponential over the past decade, and, to a lesser extent, India and Brazil. These three countries seem set to become the key suppliers of relevant science and technology to poorer countries. But rich countries have a responsibility too, and calls by scientists for large increases in public spending on agricultural research that is more directly relevant to the developing world are more than justified.
The private sector also has an important part to play. In the past, agribiotechnology companies have focused mostly on the lucrative agriculture markets in rich countries, where private-sector research accounts for more than half of all agricultural research. Recently, however, they have begun to engage in public–private partnerships to generate crops that meet the needs of poorer countries. This move mirrors the emergence more than a decade ago of public partnerships with drug companies to tackle a similar market failure: the development of drugs and vaccines for neglected diseases. As such, it is welcome, and should be greatly expanded (see page 548).
Genetically modified (GM) crops are an important part of the sustainable agriculture toolkit, alongside traditional breeding techniques. But they are not a panacea for world hunger, despite many assertions to the contrary by their proponents. In practice, the first generation of GM crops has been largely irrelevant to poor countries. Overstating these benefits can only increase public distrust of GM organisms, as it plays to concerns about the perceived privatization and monopolization of agriculture, and a focus on profits.
Nor are science and technology by themselves a panacea for world hunger. Poverty, not lack of food production, is the root cause. The world currently has more than enough food, but some 1 billion people still go hungry because they cannot afford to pay for it. The 2008 food crisis, which pushed around 100 million people into hunger, was not so much a result of a food shortage as of a market volatility — with causes going far beyond supply and demand — that sent prices through the roof and sparked riots in several countries. Economics can hit food supply in other ways. The countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development pay subsidies to their farmers that total some US$1 billion a day. This makes it very difficult for farmers in developing nations to gain a foothold in world markets.
Nonetheless, research can have a decisive impact by enabling sustainable and productive agriculture — a proven recipe (as is treating neglected diseases) for creating a virtuous circle that lifts communities out of poverty.—www.shafaqna.com/english