SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Community water fluoridation has been around for more than 65 years, and although proponents cite many benefits, the practice has come under fire recently as critics are questioning the amount our children are consuming – and if it’s even necessary.
Touted as one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community water fluoridation has been shown to significantly decrease tooth decay. Systematic reviews conducted by the Community Preventive Services Task Force found that tooth decay in children ages 4 to 17 years old declined by 29 percent as a result of fluoride in the water.
“Children who are in communities with fluoridated water have fewer and less severe cavities,” said Dr. Bill Bailey, acting director of the division of oral health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Good oral health not only affects your physical health, but also your psychological, emotional, and social health – and your economic health as a family.”
Community fluoridation also saves money on costly dental treatments, according to a report in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry.
“It’s still the single most effective public health measurement to prevent dental decay,” said Dr. Adriana Segura, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics section on oral health.
In 2010, approximately 73 percent of the population had access to fluoridated water, according to the CDC. The decision to add fluoride to the water supply is decided at the community or state level. Thirteen states plus the District of Columbia currently have legislation that mandates it.
Despite the benefits, tooth decay remains a problem for children of all ages. In fact, 25 percent of children 6 to 11 years old and 59 percent of adolescents 12 to 19 years old have tooth decay, according to the CDC. But experts say the problem goes beyond fluoride.
“Tooth decay, like all other diseases, is multi-factorial” said Bailey, who added that brushing, diet, and access to care – in addition to fluoride – provides the best protection.
Another issue is the benefit of drinking fluoridated water versus applying it topically. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry found that the benefits of fluoride are topical, and intake has more of an effect on dental fluorosis—a visible change in the tooth’s enamel that usually shows up as white markings but could be more severe—than on preventing cavities.
“Fluoride in water in very small levels throughout the day helps to replenish the amount you have in your mouth,” said Bailey, who says that although the predominant benefit is topical, drinking fluoridated water helps to re-mineralize the teeth and is better than just brushing.
“Fluoride is not a nutrient and not essential to healthy teeth,” said Carol S. Kopf, Media Director for the Fluoride Action Network, who says tooth decay is a diet-based disease. “Rotten diet makes rotten teeth.”
Evidence against fluoridated water
In 2006, The National Research Council published an extensive review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. In it, they state fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can interfere with the functions of the brain and body, although it does not mimic normal hormones. The committee reviewed various studies that link fluoride to adverse health effects and recommended more research be done to ascertain the actual risk.
The EPA includes fluoride on their list of chemicals that have “substantial evidence of developmental neurotoxicity.” According to a 2011 review published in the journal Neurologia, ingesting fluoride over a long period of time may cause damage to the nervous system.
A 2012 review published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that children had lower IQ scores when they lived in areas with high levels of fluoridation.
Fluoride exposure during pregnancy is also a concern. In 2009, researchers at the State University of New York reported that more premature births occurred in fluoridated communities than in non-fluoridated communities in upstate New York.
Osteosarcoma, a serious form of bone cancer usually affecting teens, is another subject of debate. In 2006, a Harvard study found a strong link between fluoride and osteosarcoma in boys, yet in 2012, a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology found no link between the two.
Despite the studies that suggest adverse health effects, the CDC says community water fluoridation is safe and cites its use of systemic reviews and expert panels for their evaluations. “Consistently these systematic reviews say there is no compelling evidence for any other health effects than dental fluorosis,” Bailey said.
“We here at the CDC take these studies very seriously,” said Dr. Barbara Gooch, associate director for science at the CDC’s Division of Oral Health, who says the CDC, along with the National Institutes of Health and the EPA, consistently review the latest data. “They [the EPA] have the duty here within the federal government to assure the safety of fluoride in water.”
In 2007, the Fluoride Action Network issued a statement to end community water fluoridation, and many communities have rejected it. Today, more than 4,000 medical and environmental professionals have signed with the goal of ending community fluoridation for good.
“The wheels of government work very slowly,” Kopf said. “They’re waiting for absolute, 100 percent proof that fluoridation is harmful and we’re saying we have enough proof already that it’s harmful.”
Where does fluoride come from?
Produced from phosphorite rock and used to manufacture phosphate fertilizer, three fluoride additives are used in the United States: sodium fluorosilicate, sodium fluoride, and the most common, fluorosilicic acid or hydrofluosilicic acid. “Hydrofluosilicic acid is a waste product of the phosphate fertilizer industry,” Kopf said. In addition, trace amounts of arsenic, copper, lead, cadmium, and mercury exist in the additives, but at levels that are considered safe by the EPA.
“It’s never purified so I don’t know how they think that lead disappears,” said Kopf, who noted that while it’s watered down, it doesn’t make sense that these chemicals are making their way into the water supply in the first place.
In response, the CDC cites a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology that found that the fluorosilicate ion doesn’t exist by the time it makes its way to the faucet.
“There is very careful oversight of these additives that go into water,” said Bailey, who says there’s a stringent system of standards, testing and certificates in place by the EPA, the American Water Works Association and National Sanitation Foundation/American National Standards Institute.
Fluoride occurs naturally in water and is also found in formula, fruit juice and baby food, as well as toothpaste, mouth rinses, floss and dental treatments. And with all of the fluoride children are being exposed to before their teeth develop, dental fluorosis is becoming a bigger problem. The CDC estimates approximately 33 percent of children ages 6 to 11 and approximately 40 percent of teens ages 12 to 15 have dental fluorosis.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the EPA issued a new recommendation to reduce the amount of fluoride in drinking water to 0.7 milligrams per liter from the previous recommendation which was a range of 0.7 to 1.2.
“It’s recognized that children and adults can likely receive enough fluoride if the level of fluoride in the water is slightly reduced,” Gooch said.
What you should know
If you are concerned about fluoride in your drinking water, contact your local water supplier for a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report. Also, choose bottled water that is lower in fluoride content, which includes de-ionized, purified, demineralized, or distilled. You should also consider installing a reverse osmosis filter in your home. Segura suggests speaking with your child’s dentist to evaluate how much fluoride your child is exposed to and to make decisions about care.-www.shfaqna.com/English
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/02/20/fluoride-necessary-or-too-much-good-thing/#ixzz2Lt9GEUmd
Source: Fox News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The long-awaited new BlackBerry is almost here, with the touch-screen Z10 going on sale through most Canadian carriers on Feb. 5.
Fans of physical keyboards will have to wait a little longer. The company formerly known as Research In Motion — officially renamed BlackBerry on Wednesday — is saying the Q10 QWERTY-model will follow in a few weeks.
After spending a day with the Z10, it's clear the new BlackBerry is a complete and fully baked product.
It's slick, fast and good looking, with only a few noticeable holes. Here's a rundown of some of its best features — and some things that need work.
Interactive: Comparing the BlackBerry Z10 to other smartphones in Canada
Interactive: A by-the-numbers look at how Canadians use smartphones
The good stuff
Speed and interface: BlackBerry touts its web browser as faster than competitors, and it sure looks like it. The loading speed extends beyond just websites though — many apps and even email messages also open faster than on other phones.
The speed blends well with BlackBerry's "Flow" interface, which eschews buttons for swiping. There's no home button on the Z10, with left-to-right and up-and-down swipes controlling all of the navigation.
It takes some getting used to because it's different from other smartphones, but once you get into the swing of it, the horsepower and interface combine to create a smooth experience that's kind of fun
Feel: It's not quite as light as the iPhone 5, but at 137 grams the Z10 isn't too hefty either.
It also has a textured back so it feels nice in your hand and is a little less likely to slip than many other smooth-backed phones. The 4.2-inch screen also boasts 356 pixels per inch, which is sharper than many competing devices on the market.
Hub: Other phone makers have taken stabs at a unified inbox, but the Z10 gets it right. All of your accounts, from email and Facebook to Twitter and LinkedIn, not to mention text messages, notifications and BBM pings, are found in one location, which can be accessed by swiping in from the left of the phone.
The Hub also lets you filter down to each individual account by tapping on its heading, which is good for when all that incoming gets overwhelming.
Ready to work: The new BlackBerry comes office ready, with several pre-installed productivity apps, such as Evernote. Docs To Go lets you create documents, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, while Dropbox and Box cloud storage both come integrated.
That means less set up and they work more smoothly with the phone as a whole.
I had no problems opening all sorts of documents, photos or audio files. Print To Go and File Manager also let you easily keep track of files on the phone and transfer them to or from a computer. These aren't just tacked-on apps — they're designed to work well with the phone's overall software.
Ports and things: In terms of plugging things in and taking things out, the Z10 is everything the iPhone is not. There's a removable battery, in case it goes belly up, as well as an SD card slot to add to the 16 gigabytes of included storage.
It also has a micro HDMI slot for connecting to a TV or monitor, so no extra adapters are required to pipe video from the phone.
Apps: BlackBerry surprised virtually everyone by announcing it now has 70,000 applications available — many observers were expecting considerably fewer.
While the company has done well in ensuring some key apps are available, such as Facebook and Twitter, plenty are absent. There's no Instagram or Netflix, for example, despite movies and TV shows being available through the BlackBerry World store.
And although the company says the likes of Skype and Kindle are "committed," they're not there yet.
BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said he wants the company's phones to be the centre of the "internet of things," or the emerging web of interconnected every-day devices, but Apple and Android are far ahead in this regard.
Maps: Apple got a ton of grief for replacing Google Maps with its own creation, but even its flawed app is better than the Z10's.
While BlackBerry's maps app is functional, it's limited in its bells and whistles. It has turn-by-turn navigation, but fewer points of interest and no walking or transit directions. The maps themselves also aren't that interesting to look at.
Predictive typing: BlackBerry engineers have come up with an impressive tool that predicts the next word you're likely to type. The word appears over the keyboard's letters and, if it's indeed the one you want, you swipe it and it appears in whatever you're writing.
When it works, it works well and can speed up typing, but I often found myself actually slowing down to read the words, which are quite small.
This may be another learning curve that can be overcome over time, but it's harder to get used to than the simpler Flow interface. The Q10, with its physical keyboard, may therefore be the phone that hard-core BlackBerry fans will prefer.
At the time of writing, battery life, near-field communications capability and BlackBerry Balance had not yet been tested extensively enough to include in this review. These functions will be added over the next few days.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - On an island whose stock in trade is sun, and lots of it, Lawrence and Cindy Lee figured they'd be foolish not to join their neighbors and put a few solar panels on the roof.
The Lees called one of the solar contractors racing around Hawaii these days, and put in their order. Eleven months later, in October — after endless consultations, emails and a $3,000 study required by Maui Electric Co. — they were still waiting for a permit.
"Instead of it being like they want to help you get your solar system in," Lawrence Lee said, "it's more like they don't want you to."
Solar power has grown increasingly popular across the U.S. Sun Belt, but hardly anywhere has it taken hold as it has in Hawaii. Friendly tax credits, the highest average electricity rates in the nation and the most aggressive renewable energy program adopted by any state have sent homeowners scrambling to install photovoltaic systems on their roofs.
The number of solar power systems across the island state has doubled every year since 2007, with nearly 20,000 units installed. But with homeowners and businesses now producing nearly 140 megawatts of their own power — the equivalent of a medium-size power plant — and solar tax credits biting seriously into the state budget, Hawaii legislators and electrical utilities are tapping the brakes.
Solar tax credits cost the state $173.8 million this year in foregone revenue, up from $34.7 million in 2010, prompting state tax authorities to announce this month that they will temporarily cut the tax credit in half, effective Jan. 1.
Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, which oversees subsidiary utilities on Maui and the Big Island, has warned that the explosion of do-it-yourself solar could threaten parts of the power grid with the possibility of power fluctuations or sporadic blackouts as the power generated by homeowners — unpredictable and subject to sudden swings — exceeded output from power plants in some areas.
So rapid is the growth that Hawaiian Electric at one point proposed a moratorium on solar installations, a plan that met with immediate outrage and was quickly withdrawn. But utilities are requiring expensive "interconnection" studies, such as the one the Lees had to do, in solar-saturated areas to analyze what impact a new unit is going to have on the utility system before it can connect to the grid.
"The last three months are turning into a madhouse of solar here on Oahu," Hawaiian Electric spokesman Peter Rosegg said. "We're doing everything we can to get in as much solar as possible, but there's a strong sense that we're kind of at a crossroads here in trying to deal with these issues."
Hawaii has become a solar laboratory for the rest of the country. Many states are experiencing sun-power booms, but few have had their grids overwhelmed to the extent seen in Hawaii.
"No one knows exactly when this is going to take place, but we are approaching a red line…. We will reach a point where they will not accept any more generating capacity," said Marco Mangelsdorf, who runs a private solar company, ProVision Solar, and teaches energy politics at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.
Historically, power is supplied to homes and businesses from big central power plants, easily controlled by engineers who dial up the turbines when demand peaks, such as on hot afternoons when customers come home and turn on air conditioners. But the push for renewable energy has introduced into the equation "nonfirm" power — electricity generated by wind, which comes and goes, or sun, which can suddenly disappear behind a cloud.
As customers generate more than they need and feed the excess back into the grid for others to use, it makes managing the system much more complex. What happens when a cloud passes over and dozens of rooftop units suddenly grind to a halt? What's to be done on a sunny autumn day, when rooftop solar systems are producing way more power than the grid can use?
The problem is especially pronounced in Hawaii, where each island has its own isolated power grid and can't quickly compensate with power generated elsewhere. The result, if not carefully managed, can be computer-killing power surges (in cases of excess generation), flickering lights, isolated blackouts or worse.
"It can crash the entire system," said Robert Alm, executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric.
California, which has more than 120,000 solar energy systems online, doesn't have Hawaii's serious overload problems, but has recently faced its own debate over how much can be paid to solar-equipped homeowners for power they feed into the grid. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is studying Hawaii's operations to learn what happens when solar power inundates a power system.
"As an engineer, you always want to look at the worst-case scenario. Well, they have it," project manager Elaine Sison-Lebrilla said.
Hawaii finds itself pushing the envelope not just because of its abundant sunshine. A bigger driver has been the state's reliance on oil to fuel its power plants. Oil is always more expensive than natural gas, but prices shot up even higher last year when Japan's nuclear disaster sent demand, and soon prices, skyrocketing on the Asian markets where Hawaii buys its supplies.
The state has set a goal of obtaining 40% of its power from locally generated renewable sources by 2030. Already, the Big Island has jumped ahead and is producing 44% of its power from renewable sources, and it could hit 100% by the end of the decade.
Kauai announced earlier this month that it would build its third large-scale solar plant and expected to generate half the island's power by the sun soon. "Our understanding is that would be the highest penetration of any utility, certainly in the United States," said Jim Kelly, spokesman for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.
The state is studying a multibillion-dollar undersea cable that would connect outlying islands — the big generators of wind, geothermal and solar power — to Oahu, home to most of Hawaii's population. This would not only allow them to serve as energy farms for the state, but it would also allow the kind of interconnected grid that would alleviate wind and solar variability problems.
Over the last few months, new rules have liberalized the standards for allowing solar connections, and a week ago, the Lees completed their long journey through the energy bureaucracy: They had their rooftop unit installed. They're no longer worried about turning off the lights in empty rooms.
"I wish I hadn't had to go through all this," Lawrence Lee said. "But it was worth it."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – "Think not of those who are slain in God's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord." (3:169)
The events of Karbala reflect the collision of good versus evil, the virtuous versus the wicked, and the collision of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) versus Yazid. Imam Hussain was a revolutionary person, a righteous man, the religious authority, the Imam of the Muslim Ummah. As the representative of his grandfather Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny), Imam Hussain's main concern was to safeguard and protect Islam and guide fellow Muslims. On the other hand, the staying power of the rulers (Muawiya and his son Yazid) depended solely on the might of the sword. They used brute force to rule over the Muslim empire by all possible illicit means.
The mission of Imam Hussain is a distinctly unique political and religious revolutionary movement in the history of the world. His was a tremendous undertaking which still reverberates throughout the Muslim nation. He has been a propelling force and a seminal element in events throughout Islamic history, particularly in the sphere of Jihad (the holy struggle in the way of Almighty God). Imam Hussain's example has remained vividly alive for generations and centuries. His uprising movement and ideals still have a deep impact on the conscience and awareness of the Muslim empire.
The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "The best of Jihad is that of a word of right spoken to an unjust ruler."
Imam Hussain witnessed the deteriorating political and social situation and clearly recognized that the general policy of the authorities did not abide with Islamic principles. He was aware of the Ummah's numerous and painful afflictions and was determined to exercise his religious duty, being the duly sanctioned leader and central figure capable of restoring Islamic values. Thus he rose. His revolt is rich in lessons and divinely inspired attitudes. Imam Hussain embodied the sacrifice of self, money, family, social status, and the challenge to terror and cruelty. He patiently traversed hundreds of miles, moving both night and day. The epic protest he engendered came at the most critical political juncture. In fact, the Prophet's grandson had vowed to sacrifice himself.
Thus, Karbala proved to be a clash involving Islamic truths versus falsehood, belief versus disbelief, the oppressed versus the oppressor, and faith versus brute force. Karbala was about standing in the face of oppression, regardless no matter the cost. In Karbala, Imam Hussain, the fifty seven year old second grandson of Prophet Muhammad, sacrificed his totality and all he had, for one goal. This goal was to let the truth triumph over falsehood eventually, and he did that brilliantly. His goal was to foil the plan that Muawiya had expertly developed for his son Yazid, which was to establish a permanent Umayyad dynasty over the Muslim Ummah, but doing it in the name of Islam. Brilliantly, Imam Hussain succeeded in foiling this plan, and he exposed the disreputable nature of Umayyads, though this was at the expense of his life.
Eventually he was martyred along with his sons, most of his household, and all of his companions. The bodies were mutilated, and their heads were carried from Karbala to Kufa and finally Damascus. His womenfolk were taken prisoners and marched across the desert. He himself was expecting all that, but did not budge an inch.
An uprising led by the noblest and best accepted personality in the entire Ummah is certainly one which is uniquely distinguished as a movement abounding with spiritual, moral, and religious ideals.
Such a sublime revolution has to be studied, dissected, and fully understood. Lessons should be drawn from it. Here we note that the backward and downtrodden nations must one day follow in the footsteps of Imam Hussain if they are to challenge the despots.
Karbala never passes away. Its sun never sets in the horizon of history. Its anguish can never be effaced from the conscience of freemen by the collective conspiracy of tyrants.
At Karbala, clouds of blood rained, and generations of martyrs and revolutionaries took root and sprouted. The sound of the fearless voice of Imam Hussain still echoes in the valley of Karbala, ringing in the ears of time. It is a hurricane that chafes and shakes the tyrants. It is a volcano of blood, violently jolting the despots' thrones. It awakens free consciences and stirs within man the spirit of revolution and Jihad. His voice is still echoing in the ears of mankind:
"By God, I will never give you my hand like a man who has been humiliated, nor will I flee like a slave."— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Six leading French academies have condemned last month’s controversial study that linked genetically-modified corn and weedkiller produced by agri-giant Monsanto with cancer. The verdict was backed by two government-commissioned scientific reviews.
The national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology and veterinary studies put out an unprecedented joint statement condemning the findings on NK603 corn published last month by molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini, from the University of Caen.
"Given the numerous gaps in methods and interpretation, the data presented in this article cannot challenge previous studies which have concluded that NK603 corn is harmless from the health point of view,” said the statement, “as are, more generally, genetically modified plants that have been authorised for consumption by animals and humans."
Séralini, a long-time vocal opponent of genetically-modified crops, gave several groups of rats Monsanto’s NK603 corn, which had been modified to develop resistance to Roundup, a popular pesticide also sold by the US company. The study lasted for two years and allegedly showed rats given NK603, both untreated and treated with Roundup, developing a higher rate of cancer than a control group.
NK603 has been approved in the EU since 2003, but not grown on a commercial scale (while France does not permit GM crops to be cultivated at all). Most of the modified corn reaches the food chain as livestock feed imported from major producers abroad.
The study – whose findings contradicted dozens of previous safety reviews – made its way to the front pages and resulted in calls for a ban on GM foods in Europe, which are already subject to severe restrictions.
In their statement, the academies appeared to question Séralini’s integrity. His study, co-authored with Dr Spiroux, a homeopathy and acupuncture specialist, was largely financed by anti-GM activists and organic food supermarkets (though this is not in itself an exceptional practice). Its findings were disseminated through a group of handpicked sympathetic journalists, who signed a confidentiality clause forbidding them to show the paper to other scientists prior to the deadline of publication. The journalists then unleashed a massive campaign, whose alarmist tone was soon picked up by media outlets throughout the world.
With just a few articles, these journalists set off a media firestorm that renewed concerns about GM foods and forced the mainstream scientific establishment onto the defensive.
"Hyping the reputation of a scientist or a team is a serious misdemeanor when it helps to spread fear among the public that is not based on any firm conclusion,” said the academies’ statement.
A statement from the French National Centre for Scientific Research criticized Séralini’s media onslaught on ethical grounds last week, claiming it confused the public on major and sensitive issues.
The censure was supported by the simultaneous verdicts of the Higher Biotechnologies Council (HCB) and the National Agency for Food Safety (ANSES), two leading government agencies charged with reviewing the concerns raised in the study. Both bodies dismissed it, and said that it did not give enough ground for a wholesale review of GM crop suitability.
"The data is insufficient to establish scientifically a causal link… or to support the conclusions or pathways suggested by the authors," declared ANSES.
Widespread methodological criticism of the paper appeared upon publication, with Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King's College London, saying the study was a “statistical fishing trip” – manipulated from the start to achieve a specific result.
Séralini used Sprague-Dawley rates for the study. The sub-species are susceptible to developing tumors, with two-thirds of the males and more than half of the females expected to die from them during the course of a two-year experiment regardless of what they ingested. The ubiquity of tumors makes them an unusual choice for a study about carcinogenic effects of a certain food, as it is difficult to make out the impact from the already astronomically high cancer rate. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends that only rats with a survival rate of more than 50 percent (which are easily available) are used for two-year studies.
The second problem appears to be the small sample size. The OECD recommends that 50 rats of each sex are used for any test group. Séralini used test groups of ten, meaning the control group for two years was only twenty rats in total. So the difference between the groups fed NK603 corn and the control for the experiment was one or two dead rats over a period of two years. In some cases, the results were in direct contrast with the study’s claims: some rats subjected to a diet of Roundup on its own actually survived the two years in greater quantities than ones fed an organic diet. Rather than believing that drinking water contaminated with pesticides helps to decrease cancer, critics say that in such a small sample size noticeable differences in results can be explained by chance.
In response to the questions, Séralini, who has caused several similar controversies with his consistently anti-GM studies since 2004, says that he stands by his conclusions, but that he will not share the detailed observation records that formed the foundation of his paper with any establishment bodies until they introduce a ban on genetically-modified foods.
Despite the dismissal of the study by authorities not only in France, but in Germany, Australia and by the European Food Safety Authority in recent days, its impact upon release has raised Europeans’ apprehension about so-called ‘Frankenfoods’.
The latest 2010 Eurobarometer survey on the issue showed that 59 percent of all Europeans believe that genetically-modified food is unsafe.
Ten percent of the world’s agricultural land is used for GM crops, though the figure is only 0.06 percent in Europe.
Following the latest crisis of confidence sparked by only a singl— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Which company has the most valuable brand according to news media, social media, and Twitter combined? If you guessed Apple, you’d be wrong. If you guessed Google, you’d still be wrong. General Sentiment‘s latest data lists the top 20 companies in the following order:
The eight-page “Q3 2012 Global Brands Media Value Report” (PDF) explains what happened:
Facebook joined our Media Value rankings this quarter and immediately dominated the list. Months after its IPO, the social networking service is still at the forefront of many minds. In mid-September, the company’s stock saw a boost after CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave his first interview since Facebook went public. However, Barron’s deemed its stock “still too pricey” near the end of the quarter.
Apple passed Google this quarter and retained the second place spot. The iPhone 5 made its much-awaited debut in late September. While many were excited about the new smartphone, its unveiling was quickly accompanied by criticism of the iOS 6 Maps app. CEO Tim Cook released a statement soon after apologizing for the failings of the new Maps app.
Google fell from first to third, dropping behind Apple and newly initiated Facebook. The search giant was often mentioned alongside criticism of Apple’s iOS 6 Maps; many stated that Apple should have just kept supporting Google Maps. Google’s stock set a new record in late September, surpassing the all-time high last seen in November 2007.
Apple passing Google we can understand, but how on Earth did Facebook manage to catapult itself to first place? After all, both companies are much bigger, make much more money, and have been around for much longer. Furthermore, the most recent brand report from Interbrand showed Facebook debuting on its top 100 list at number 69.
So, what gives? Read the bullet list again, and you’ll see that the iOS 6 Maps fiasco actually helped Apple beat out Google. As Forbes notes, this is a classic case of “all good news is good news” or “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Apple may be the best when it comes to the rumor mill and users complaining about some defect or another, and Google may be always in the news for entering an exciting new market or getting smacked around by some government, but when it comes to privacy disasters and user outrage, Facebook wins by a landslide. Oh, and the company’s poor stock performance also can’t hurt. I’m serious: in this case it can’t hurt the social networking giant, it can only help.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Next Web
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — An astonishing decade-long surge of oil prices is reversing, according to a top energy watchdog. The reason is moderate global economic growth and a spike in oil supply from Iraq, Libya and North America.
The largest factor in high prices has been the world's unused capacity to produce oil, what the industry calls "spare capacity." If you happen to be a chronic buyer of fountain pens, think of oil that way: you will be frequently on edge if the world's main fountain pen supplier can produce just 1,000 pens a year while demand is 990 and growing; you will offer to pay more for your pen if only you can be guaranteed to get yours. So it has been with oil: for decades, there was plenty of spare oil-production capacity--far exceeding demand. But in 2002 or so, growing demand began to push up against the limits of oil production capacity. Spare capacity became thin, shrinking to just 2 million barrels a day or so, or just 2% of the approximately 85-89 million barrels a day of global demand during the period. Worry-warts pushed oil prices as high as $147 a barrel in the summer of 2008. So the situation remains today, allowing geopolitical crises such as the Arab Spring to push up oil prices as markets worry whether there will be sufficient supply in a pinch. Look at the blue line in this chart, which shows the post-2002 dip in spare capacity (along with a plunge starting in the early 1980s). — www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Atlantic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — With cigarettes so cheap and smoking allowed in many public areas, it’s no wonder so many people in the UAE stay hooked on the habit. But with a little help from the experts, you can ditch ‘the cancer sticks’. Andrea Anastasiou rounds up the services and products to help you quit for good
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), someone in the world dies every six seconds from tobacco use, while estimations suggest that one in every two smokers will die from their habit. In fact, it’s predicted that tobacco will kill more than eight million people worldwide annually by 2030. Cigarettes are killers. “More than 50 of the 4,000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke are known to cause cancer and around 200 are poisonous,” says Dr Seema Anand, specialist physician of internal medicine at Dubai’s Welcare Hospital. These toxins create a number of health hazards for women, which include the risk of reduced fertility, cervical cancer and premature aging.
“Women who smoke are three times more likely to take more than a year to conceive,” she says. “Smoking is also associated with five per cent of infant deaths, ten per cent of preterm babies and 30 per cent of underweight babies.”
Of course, we all know that cigarettes are bad for us, but did you know that if you give up smoking before the age of 35 you could have practically the same life expectancy as a non-smoker? That’s a real incentive, if you were in need of one, to kick that bad habit to the curb once and for all.
HOW IT WORKS
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a very precise form of hypnosis, which can help you trigger the release of feel-good chemicals from the brain when you need them, simply by using your mind, so you no longer need cigarettes for that buzz, says Tony Barlow, The Learning Coach. “This is easier than it sounds,” explains Barlow. “Sit back and think for a moment of the most relaxing experience of your life. Spend a couple of minutes thinking about the sights, sounds and feelings of that experience as if you are reliving it right now. When you have finished doing this, notice how you feel. With NLP you can set things up in your mind so the body chemistry is created automatically at the moments you need it – such as the times when you would normally want to smoke. This dramatically reduces withdrawal symptoms and makes quitting easier,” he says.
In your first session, there’s a lot of information gathering, Barlow explains. “I will find out how many cigarettes you smoke a day and where you smoke, for example. I also offer you the opportunity to practise how to use your mind to get some instant relief from cravings. Typically, we will go through some visualisation-type exercises, and I will demonstrate to you in the first session how much control you actually have over your body chemistry just by using your mind,” says Barlow. Three one-hour sessions are recommended over a one to two week period. Barlow also asks his clients to send a daily email report for the first two weeks to ensure they are using the mental techniques he has taught them.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?
According to Barlow, quitting smoking is primarily the ability to change an ingrained mental habit. He says that consciously trying to stop smoking without any help is an almost impossible task unless your motivation level is very high. NLP changes the subconscious habit directly so that you automatically don’t feel like smoking. An alternative to this is NLP and Time Line Therapy, which uses a combination of the above and Time Line, where you imagine an internal timeline floating above you that helps you let go of negative emotions and limiting beliefs. Wendy Shaw from Matrix Training Solutions explains how the combined technique can offer quick and lasting results. “We work at a deeper level with the client’s subconscious mind, exploring the client’s beliefs around smoking, which often leads to the identification of an internal conflict. Part of them wants to stop yet a part of them doesn’t, which ultimately sabotages their success. When we deal with the lower level issues, it allows change to happen.”
NLP for quitting smoking costs Dh1,300. Available in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, contact The Learning Coach, www.learnfastuae.com. NLP and Time Line Therapy is available at Matrix Training Sessions, where you can get a complimentary 30-minute ‘Discovery’ session. Call 04-3432555, www.matrix-training.com
HOW IT WORKS According to John Barclay, director at Hypnosis Dubai (www.hypnosisdubai.com), hypnosis is a natural state of physical relaxation and mental focus in which your critical conscious mind is bypassed so that positive, goal-oriented suggestions can be delivered directly to your subconscious. It is believed that 80 per cent of how you think, feel and behave is controlled by your subconscious mind, meaning hypnosis is a powerful tool through which to influence your behaviour. During a hypnosis session, you will be guided through various relaxation techniques until you are in a very relaxed state. You will then be asked to imagine unpleasant outcomes from smoking, and offered visualisation techniques and affirmations that will help you associate smoking with negative images.
WHAT HAPPENS Barclay explains how during the first session a case history is taken, following which the hypnosis begins. During your second visit, the visualisations you explored in your first session are reinforced, and you should be on your way to becoming a non-smoker. The Quit Smoking Programme involves two one and half hour sessions that are five to seven days apart. The total session time is three hours.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? According to Barclay, hypnosis is the only technique that deals with the issues that make a smoker return to smoking. “As these issues are removed using hypnotherapy, there is no need for anyone to start smoking again and they are a non-smoker for the rest of their lives,” he says. Barclay also explains how there is a 65 per cent success rate when you use hypnosis to quit smoking. This is compared to just five per cent for when you go it alone, and 25 per cent when using gum or patches.
DETAILS Dh600 for the programme, Hypnosis Dubai, call 050 427 1739 or visit www.hypnosisdubai.com.
HOW IT WORKS Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine, whereby the functioning of your organs can be improved, pain can be eased, and good health promoted through the rebalancing of energy (also known as ‘qi’) in the body. Fine needles are used to stimulate the body’s ‘acupoints’ thereby boosting depleted energy, or moving stagnated energy. For smokers, it boosts the liver function and aids detoxification, which helps reduce the dreaded cravings, and alleviates withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, mood swings and increased appetite that can be side effects of quitting. At the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, the smoking cessation treatment consists of acupuncture sessions, detox tea and sometimes herbal medications – used to help people with nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, irritability and headaches.
WHAT HAPPENS Despite common misconception, the needles used in acupuncture are extremely thin, and therefore insertion is barely noticeable and not painful. During a session, each needle is inserted very superficially into your skin, where they remain while you rest. The number of sessions needed vary from person to person, but typically, between five to 15 sessions are needed to give up smoking.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? According to Dr Maria Ridao Alonso, allopathic physician at the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, acupuncture takes care of both the emotional and physical side of quitting smoking. It also helps reduce withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, insomnia, shakiness and headaches.
DETAILS Five sessions for Dh750, while one day of the detox tea costs Dh10. The Dubai Herbal Treatment Centre, call 04-3351200 or visit www.dubaihtc.com
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HOW IT WORKS IQS utilises a special device that administers electrical stimulation to the earlobes in a process known as auricular therapy. According to Alaa Abou Laban, deputy manager at IQS UAE, these small electrical currents are applied to key points on the earlobe, releasing a flow of beta-endorphins throughout the body, creating a sense of vitality. The endorphins prevent nicotine depravation and help to stop the cravings. They also help detoxify the body from nicotine.
WHAT HAPPENS You will first be given a questionnaire to answer – this explores your smoking habits and nicotine consumption. Following this, a spirometer measuring device is used to measure the carbon monoxide (CO) level in your body to determine whether you are a light, medium or heavy smoker. Finally, the therapy is applied to your earlobes via what is known as a ‘Rise’ device. A one-hour session is usually all it takes, but severe addicts may need two sessions.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT? The auricular therapy claims to help remove all your cravings while controlling stress levels. It has also been found that the therapy helps control your appetite during the cessation phase, meaning you shouldn’t gain any weight. According to Laban, the IQS team has been studying the effectiveness of the treatment for several years and they have found that there is a 90 per cent success rate.
DETAILS A one-hour session costs Dh2,000, IQS, call 04-2626000 or visit www.iqs-uae.com
BOOKS There are numerous books available to help you along the way. Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking (Penguin Books Ltd) and Quit Smoking Today (Bantam Press) by Paul Mckenna have both enjoyed high success rates.
NICOTINE REPLACEMENT Various nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) are available from most major pharmacies. These include gums, sprays, lozenges, tablets and patches, with each providing a remedial administration of nicotine to the body to help wean it off the drug.
THE BENEFITS TIMELINE
Dr Anand says that even from 20 minutes of being smoke-free, your health starts to improve – here are the changes minute-by-minute, hour by hour and day by day.
AFTER 20 MINUTES Your blood pressure decreases, your heart rate reduces, instantly reducing your risk of a heart attack, and the body temperature of your hands and feet increase, improving your circulation.
AFTER 8 HOURS “After eight hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood normalises and the oxygen level in your blood increases back to normal,” says Dr Anand.
AFTER 48 HOURS After 48 hours, your body is nicotine-free: the regeneration of nerves start and your sense of smell and taste improves. Plus, “your chances of having a heart attack decreases significantly,” says Dr Anand. Your breathing will also improve.
AFTER 3 MONTHS Your lung function will have improved by five to 10 per cent
AFTER 1 YEAR Your risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 per cent.
AFTER 10 YEARS Your risk of lung cancer is reduced by 50 per cent; and there is a reduced risk of other cancers, including the pancreas, bladder, kidney, mouth, and throat.
AFTER 15 YEARS The risk of heart disease and mortality is the same as a non-smoker.
"I gave up by going cold turkey"
Sapna Khan, a Dubai smoker for the past two years, managed to quit with no assistance. Here’s how…
“I got into the habit of smoking around 12 to 15 cigarettes a day about two years ago, after smoking shisha on a regular basis for about six years. I decided I needed to quit as I noticed my health had started to deteriorate – my stamina was poor, I had chest pains every morning, a smoker’s cough and a sore throat. My clothes, fingers and breath stank. Plus, although cigarettes are relatively cheap in Dubai, I was still spending Dh300-400 every month. “Two months ago I decided to go cold turkey. In the past I had tried to gradually reduce my consumption, but I soon figured out that smoking less was demotivating and unsuccessful.
“I did not rely on anything else to quit – no over-the-counter nicotine strips or chewing gum. I’ve realised you have to want to stop and the most successful method is self-control and determination to do good for yourself and your body. The only person who can help you is you. “Cravings were at a peak during the first few days and this was the most challenging part – but the cravings became less and less and eventually stopped after three to four weeks. “I noticed the changes after quitting almost immediately – my chest pains were lessening, I was breathing better, and my throat started recovering. Recently, I joined the gym and I am working on my stamina so that I can run and lift weights again.
“You have to be truthful with yourself and realise that cigarettes do not have control over you, but you do have control over cigarettes. Quit!”— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Gulf News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Phablets seem to be the in thing these days, and if you’re wondering what that is, it’s basically a phone + tablet, i.e. a device that blurs the line between smartphone and tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Note is a perfect example of such a device. However if you’re the sort that believes that 5.3”-5.5” is still too small for a tablet, then this concept design by Patrik Eriksson might be worth checking out. Pictured above is a folding device that when folded together resembles a smartphone. However when unfolded, it becomes a tablet thanks to its flexible OLED display that hides the hinge in the middle. This allows users to slip the device into their pockets and transform it into a full sized tablet when needed. We’re not sure why the designer chose Sony as the brand, perhaps he was inspired by the Tablet P, who knows? In any case foldable devices have been done before, like the Sony Tablet P and the Kyocera Echo, but we admit that we like Eriksson’s design and the use of a flexible OLED. What do you guys think? Would you be interested in such a device, or would you rather keep your smartphone and tablet separate?—www.shafaqna.com/english