SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - SOME kinds of argument are new, and some are as old as the cliffs of Dover. As an example of the first sort, take the debate that is going on in many Western countries about how to accommodate Islam, with all its symbols, practices and prohibitions, in a liberal society. As exhibit A of the second category, there is petty Anglo-French bickering, good-humoured or otherwise, which goes back to the Middle Ages. And the two categories can get weirdly muddled up. Even when they are talking about halal food and headscarves, the Brits and the French cannot resist having a go at one another.
In France, some sensitive cultural issues have come to the fore since March 19th when a high-level court vindicated a Muslim woman who was sacked from a day-care centre on the outskirts of Paris because she insisted on covering her head. The court found that the woman's religious freedom had been infringed. In an unusual political attack on a judicial decision, Manuel Valls, the interior minister, said the verdict was regrettable because it "called into question the principle of secular education". President François Hollande weighed in, agreeing that the law might need changing to limit overt religious expressions among people looking after very young children, even in private establishments. Moves to change the law in precisely that direction were already underway in both chambers of the French legislature, and they now look much more likely to enter force. If that happens, it will be the third piece of French legislation in that sensitive area. Conspicuous religious adornments were banned from French state schools in 2004; and full-face veils were outlawed altogether in 2011.
In Britain, for better or worse, a law that prevented child-minders or teachers from covering their heads (ie from wearing the standard Muslim hijab) would be very hard to imagine. True, English courts have backed the right of head teachers to stop girls wearing the face-covering niqab or the body-hugging jilbab to school. An English teacher who was asked to remove her niqab received a more mixed result when she went to court: it rejected her claim of religious discrimination but awarded her compensation for the mishandling of her case. But nobody has proposed that British women who teach or look after young children should be stopped from wearing hijab, which does not in any obvious way impede the wearer from imparting or receiving information. "Such a prohibition has never been suggested here," a prominent British Muslim told me. Hijab is now part of the urban British scene; a version of it is an option for London policewomen (pictured). As for the French ban on wearing full-face veils in any public setting, the Britain Home Office was categorical: "It is not for the government to say what people can and cannot wear. Such a proscriptive approach would be out of keeping with our nation's longstanding approach of tolerance." In other words, it would be as foreign as eating frogs' legs.
In France, meanwhile, it is never hard to make the case that when things go wrong, les Rosbifs are to blame. Eric Zemmour, a rambunctious French radio journalist and critic of multiculturalism, reacted to the day-care verdict in March by lamenting the way that soft-minded English ideas about diversity had corrupted his homeland. Back in the 1970s, he recalled, all French citizens had instinctively avoided public displays of religious affiliation, out of respect for others. But then "we began admiring the Anglo-Saxon sort of 'communautarisme'...in the name of the right to be different." The term "communautarisme" refers to a vice of which the Anglo-Saxons, from a French perspective, are congenitally guilty: that of allowing or even encouraging religious or ethnic groups to live in separate worlds instead of accepting the principle of equal citizenship. It is often suggested, in France, that the British sin of communautarisme goes back to the divide-and-rule policies of the empire. If perfidious Albion now has ethnically divided and dangerous cities, she is only reaping what she sowed.
In truth, Britain and France are not quite as far apart, in the problems they face or the way they respond, as both countries claim. But a difference does exist, and third parties notice it too. Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party, has praised Britain's tolerant democracy as a system coming closer to the Muslim ideal of governance than any Muslim-majority state does, while he lamented recently that "France is the country that understands Islam and the Tunisians least" despite the close historic ties. He has argued that the French ideal of strict secularism or laicité was designed to solve a problem that does not exist in Islam, that of an over-mighty institutional Church. But for a proud French secularist, being rebuked by an Islamist leader, and compared unfavourably with Britain, would only be a badge of honour. After all, Mr Ghannouchi lived for a couple of decades in the decadent atmosphere of Londonistan, to use a French pejorative. So what else would you expect?
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The biology behind termite digestion may lead to a better way to break down biomass and make biofuels, researchers say.
A recent study on how termites break down woody materials, which focused on the symbiotic relationship between the insect and the bacteria living in its gut, found that bacteria apparently have little, if anything, to do with termite digestion.
Michael Scharf, professor in urban entomology at Purdue University, and collaborators at the University of Florida wanted to see how diet affected those bacteria. If the bacteria play a role in digestion, the type of materials the insect eats should affect the composition of the bacterial community living in the termite gut.
More than 4,500 different species of bacteria were cataloged in termite guts. When multiple colonies of termites were independently fed diets of wood or paper, however, those bacteria were unaffected.
“You would think diet would cause huge ecological shifts in bacterial communities, but it didn’t. We didn’t detect any statistical differences,” Scharf says.
What they did see were far more significant changes in gene expression in the termites and the protists that live in the insects’ guts along with the bacteria.
“The bacteria communities seem very stable, but the host and the protozoa gene expression are changing a lot based on diet,” Scharf says.
The scientists looked at 10,000 gene sequences from the termites and protists to determine which genes were expressed based on differing diets. Termites and protists fed woody and lignin-rich diets changed expression of about 500 genes, leading Scharf to believe those genes might be important for breaking down lignin, a rigid material in plant cell walls that isn’t easily broken down when making biofuels.
“We see much more of the playing field now,” Scharf says.
Understanding which genes are involved in digestion should help researchers track down the enzymes that actually break down woody materials in termite digestion. Those enzymes may be tools scientists could use to better break down biomass and extract sugars during biofuel production.
The National Science Foundation, the Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Inc., and the US Department of Energy funded the research. The findings were detailed in three papers published in the journals Molecular Ecology, Insect Molecular Biology, and Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Crystal Piquette is 31 and ripped, her biceps and flat tummy a testament to the rigours of her factory job. Her life seems ordinary – she has a boyfriend and five cats, does handicrafts and dreams of buying a home – but it’s a quantum leap for someone who ran away from home at 17 to live on the street. Back then, whatever she earned as a panhandler, or as one of Toronto’s infamous “squeegee kids” washing windshields, went toward drugs, “wino drinks” and a man far older than she was.
And yet her troubled background fascinates the woman with her, who has wanted to hear about it for years. “She’s kind of my hero,” Kathy Moreland Layte admits, dabbing her eyes.
And while Ms. Piquette has no friends, she thinks highly of Ms. Layte: “I wish she was my mother.”
The two were brought together by parenthood. They are both mothers of two young children – the same young children. Ms. Layte, 52, has adopted the son and daughter born to Ms. Piquette during her previous life. Alexis was conceived under the viaduct near the Air Canada Centre, and her mother says that during the pregnancy, she and the father “didn’t have a roof over our heads. We had to beg for food.”
She also had no medical care until just before the baby arrived, small and as fragile as a “porcelain doll.” Twelve years later, Alexis has difficulty with her hearing and speech and, unlike most kids her age, still plays with stuffed animals. Utterly without the guile seen so often in prepubescent girls, she seems warm and calm – a description rarely applied to her little brother.
Austin Layte picks up a piece of rope from the front yard of his house and bursts into piercing shrieks. It has pinched his hand.
“He’ll be fine,” says Ms. Layte, running in the house to grab an ice pack. “He just feels things a lot more than other children.”
Just 1 when adopted, Austin soon went from being a spirited toddler to having such poor control of his impulses that, by 18 months, Ms. Layte says, fear of consequences was no deterrence for his “unwanted behaviours.”
At daycare, he pushed kids down the stairs and wouldn’t stop throwing food; in Grade 1, he was caught climbing the curtains and was kicked out of nature camp for hitting a child with a stick. Bike treks with his mother were abandoned because he kept tearing out his sister’s hair. One day, he was nabbed on top of the refrigerator, reaching for scissors hidden in a cupboard so he could give the dog a haircut.
“He would head-butt me without batting an eye,” Ms. Layte recalls. “He hit me so hard in the face that I had a nosebleed.”
Yet he was so prone to anxiety that he needed someone with him wherever he went. His parents enjoyed little respite; babysitters rarely came twice.
For years, the source of his behaviour remained a mystery. How could he be so different from his sister? Why did punishment not work?
Doctors have finally pinpointed the cause: Austin, now 10, has partial fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). He is one of about 3,500 children born in Canada every year whose exposure to alcohol while in the uterus has caused irreversible brain damage.
The possibility of FASD had occurred to Ms. Layte, a former nurse practitioner who teaches at a nursing college. But a pediatrician discounted the notion, saying that, even if it were true, little could be done. Also, because children develop so differently, experts rarely diagnose FASD under the age of 8, unless they find the condition’s telltale facial features, such as Austin’s narrow eyes and flattened philtrum (the groove above the upper lip).
But now Ms. Layte has learned that sweet Alexis, as different from her brother as she may seem, suffers from the same affliction, and also “will need support all through her life.”
Almost four decades after researchers pinpointed the devastating effects of alcohol on the unborn child, the subject is only now garnering serious attention. Two scholarly publications (Journal on Developmental Disabilities and The First People Child & Family Review) have special issues in the works for 2013, and there is a private member’s bill before Parliament that would create a national strategy on FASD. Experts consider this vital because FASD children have long been misunderstood and badly treated, often landing in foster care or on the street.
“Sixty per cent of adolescents and adults with FASD have trouble with the law,” says John Rafferty, the NDP MP for Thunder Bay-Rainy River, who sponsored the bill. “If you think of prevention, that is an enormous cost.”
Of special concern to aboriginal communities, FASD challenges governments because it involves “virtually every social-service sector,” says pediatrician Charlotte Moore Hepburn, lead of child health-policy initiatives at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “We have poor services for the children and little sympathy for the women.”
Western provinces have taken the lead, adopting strategies that make caring for FASD children a priority – Alberta, for example, has introduced dedicated clinics and a telephone help line. Elsewhere, however, it can be difficult even to have a suspected case assessed; according to research pioneer Sterling Clarren, the medical system currently can identify “something less than 2,000” cases a year – far fewer than the number being born.
“So we’re getting farther and farther behind,” says Dr. Clarren, scientific director of the Vancouver-based Canada FASD Research Network. “Most systems have not had to come to terms with the fact that they have to deal with kids with fetal alcohol.”
Adoption is one such system. FASD is generally thought to affect, to some degree, about 1 per cent of all newborns, but Toronto journalist Bonnie Buxton says that covers a “significant percentage of adopted children.”
She contends that “most youngsters available for adoption have been removed from dysfunctional, alcoholic families.”
After their adopted daughter was diagnosed, Ms. Buxton and her husband, Brian Philcox, founded FASworld Toronto, a charity that provides a monthly family-support group. Then, in 2002, she wrote an article urging prime minister Jean Chrétien to have his adopted aboriginal son, Michel, tested after the young man was charged with sexual assault (he was later acquitted).
She estimated that 300,000 Canadians struggle with FASD. “Each one will cost the public up to $2-million in his or her lifetime for special education, social services, extra medical care and possible involvement with crime.”
This surprised many of her readers, as it had her. “At the time we adopted, social workers knew very little about FASD,” she says. By 17, her daughter had gone through several social workers and psychologists, and landed on the street, addicted to crack.
Alerted by a TV report to what might be causing the problem, Ms. Buxton fought to find help and went on to write Damaged Angels, an acclaimed account of her struggle to rescue a young women now thriving in a solid relationship and with two children. Still, almost a decade later, Ms. Buxton says, people eager to adopt rarely consider the damage alcohol may have done to children in need of a home. “They can be so darn cute and cuddly, they can be absolutely adorable.”
Ms. Layte also was ill prepared for how her life turned out after March, 2003, when she and her husband received an irresistible offer. A young mother about to lose her children to foster care had chosen adoption instead, so she could pick the parents and arrange to stay in contact. In the Laytes, she saw people who were “stable, with good jobs” and could give Alexis and Austin “what I didn’t have, which is everything they have now.”
“I wanted to see them being raised,” Ms. Piquette says – but not the way she had been brought up. She was just 18 months old when her mother dropped her off with neighbours in farming country near Shelburne, Ont., saying she had to go to the bank. Instead, she vanished, and Ms. Piquette still knows little about her, except she was never happy, “drank like a fish” and had also been abandoned by her mother.
Which is not unusual, Edmonton pediatrician and FASD consultant Gail Andrew says, echoing Bonnie Buxton. “A high percentage of [these] birth mothers were children in care themselves,” she explains, with “no significant person in their life there when they needed one.”
In June, 2003, the youngsters met their new parents for the first time: “Austin was given to my husband and Alexis was given to me,” Ms Layte remembers. “They both put their arms out. I thought, ‘Oh, my God, they’re beautiful.’ It was hard to believe they were ours.”
Ms. Layte says she knew the children had been exposed to marijuana, cigarettes and possibly cocaine in the womb, so “there was a risk they would have learning disabilities and maybe learning delays.” On the other hand, both were full-term babies, and “that was a good thing.” but it was years before she learned that alcohol was a factor as well, and only then when Ms. Piquette made a passing comment about how well Austin was doing, considering she drank while pregnant. Suddenly Ms. Layte realized the boy’s problems could be more serious than she had thought.
Ms. Piquette readily admits that, when she was living on the street, “drinking was around me at all times. I wouldn’t fall asleep and wake up – I’d pass out and come to,” but insists: “I cut back when I was pregnant.”
Drinking while pregnant has long been controversial, and only recently has Ottawa adopted guidelines saying total abstinence is the safest bet.
Alcohol remains the only consumer product known to cause harm if misused that is not required to carry a warning label. Last spring, Molson Coors added a logo to its beer packaging – a pregnant woman with a diagonal line across her – but is that enough to get the message across?
Laura Spero recalls she, too, drank “quite a bit,” largely on weekends, when she became pregnant at 20. “Nothing was ever said about it. I wouldn’t have people around me that smoked – but I didn’t know about alcohol.”
Now 48, she still goes to bars on weekends – as an FASD awareness and prevention educator in London, Ont. She hopes to keep young women from making the same mistake but finds that, even though almost three decades have passed, little has changed: Many still consider smoking their biggest threat.
At first, Austin’s good looks and personal charm made him popular at school, a daring boy with espresso-coloured eyes and a shock of brown hair. When his behaviour became an issue, it was attributed to attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder, but Ms. Layte was skeptical – and the ADHD medication did no good. His behaviour became even harder to control.
“Kathy was disadvantaged because for many years, she didn’t know what she was dealing with,” says friend Elspeth Ross, an educator who lives in Rockland, near Ottawa, and raised two boys with FASD now in their 30s.
“We had the advantage of being told that alcohol was a factor. Because our children are aboriginal, people thought about alcohol more.” However, “if you have a blond child,” she adds, “lots of people may not consider it.”
According to Ms. Ross, parents with a child with difficult learning and behaviour problems often go from one professional to the next without being put on the right track. Not only are they “often reluctant to even consider the possibility of FASD … because it is scary for them,” she says, “professionals feel the same way and don’t even mention it.”
Once she knew about Ms. Piquette’s past drinking – and even though her marriage was dissolving (not, she says, because of the children) – Ms. Layte got serious. “I had to become this intimidating, shrew-like creature in order to get him what he needed.”
Diagnosis is the crucial step to specialists such as Vancouver’s Dr. Clarren and Manitoba’s top FASD researcher, Winnipeg geneticist Ab Chudley, who says: “If no kids are diagnosed, there are no services developed. If you pay attention to identifying and counting these kids, governments and schools pay attention.”
Others, however, complain that assessments can be inconsistent – and are no guarantee of treatment. “You think, once you have the diagnosis, you will have the people who will help you,” Ms. Layte says. “Then you realize you have to fight for everything.”
She has discovered that the school system is not equipped to handle Austin, and even a special class run by Family and Children Services for students with severe emotional and behavioural issues wasn’t a good fit.
As government agencies have searched for a solution, she has scrambled to find child care so she can continue to work, more of a challenge now that Alexis has been diagnosed as well.
At 52, she describes her life as “a roller coaster. You think that things will settle down, but they don’t.” And now her children’s other mother suspects that she also may be wrestling with the demons of fetal alcohol.
Ms. Piquette studied the rules of the road to take her driver’s test, but she says “it won’t stay in my head.” Did her own mother’s drinking habit have anything to do with her troubled childhood? Adopted by the farm family she was left with, she too grew up no stranger to trouble. At 6, she set fire to wool in her parents’ room; at 16, weighing 200 pounds, she was kicked out of Grade 11 after skipping more than 100 classes.
Now, she thinks that perhaps she too should be tested for FASD. But of one thing she is certain: “I want people to know: Don’t do what I did.”
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- As we enter a new year, many of us will start thinking—if only temporarily—about improving our diet and lifestyle habits. Maybe you'll resolve to drink more water, eat less fat, get more exercise.
But what does your gut want? A new citizen science project aims to find out.
"What diet should you be eating to achieve an optimal, healthy microbiome in your gut? We don't know yet but finding out could be the key to helping people overcome many chronic diseases," said Jeff Leach, co-founder of the American Gut project.
The concept of the crowd-funded project is simple: Pay $99, get a sample collection kit, and mail back a test tube containing "a little bit of brown" swabbed from your used toilet paper. Participants will also be asked to log their food intake for three days and answer a detailed questionnaire about how and where they live.
"Are you a vegetarian? Were you born via C-section? Do you live in a rural or urban area? Do you have dogs? All of these things can influence your microbiome," Leach said.
In return, participants will receive an analysis revealing what organisms dwell in their gut and showing how their own microbial ecosystem compares to others—including a group of hunter-gatherers Leach has been studying in Tanzania. (That research has not yet been published, but he says it reveals "big differences" between the guts of people who consume a Western diet of highly processed foods and those who eat more traditional diets.)
"There's been a lot of research about the human microbiome recently, but the general public never gets to figure out what's in their gut unless you do something like this," said Leach.
Microbes play several vital roles in the gut, including maintaining the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal tract, protecting against pathogens, and helping the body harvest calories and digest fiber.
Having too much or too little of certain bacteria could contribute to inflammation, a key factor in many chronic diseases. Recent studies have linked diabetes andobesity to imbalances in gut bacteria.
"We want people to understand that this is a major aspect of their health that's in their control," Leach said. "You're born with your genes, but you can shift your microbiome through diet and lifestyle changes."
About a thousand people have joined the project so far, and Leach is hoping another 3,000 or more will sign up to receive a kit before the February 1 deadline.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) --An unprecedented number of children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are migrating to the US.
They risk being kidnapped and forced to work for drug cartels or being killed. But violence and poverty in their countries of birth still forces thousands of children to risk their lives to reach the US every year.
And as the situation in Central America deteriorates, thanks in large part to the ongoing US-led drug war, increasing numbers have been trying to cross the border.
It is a harrowing, dangerous journey, but what happens to them once they arrive in the United States?
Those who do manage to get into the US are met with other challenges - from overcrowded emergency shelters to having to navigate the US legal system often completely alone.
Cesar is a young Guatemalan who made his way to the US in 2011 when he was 17. He shares his story: "Some people murdered my father. I don't know exactly what happened, but it was horrible for us. I saw other people get murdered too. I was worried all the time."
This fear led him to flee his home country, but he says that despite hearing stories about the journey "he never imagined how bad ... [it] would be".
"I heard that people died, [about] the violence in Mexico and the cartels. But I always had the mindset that nothing would happen to me because I'm a good person. But the journey was very difficult for me. It is something that I don't want to remember."
When he was picked up by US immigration, Cesar says they never asked his age. "I was a minor but they didn't know. And when they questioned me they didn't ask how old I was," he says. "They took me to a jail in San Antonio. There was no light, no fresh air to breathe, you don't know what will happen to you, you feel crazy. Finally, they took me to a doctor to check my teeth to see if I was an adult or underage. They realised then that I was a minor."
"I have permission to live here for now, but nothing more. I don't know what will happen in the future."
We speak to Jeanne Cohn-Connor, Cesar's lawyer, and Jennifer Podkul, the programme officer for the Migrants Rights and Justice Programme at the Women's Refugee Commission, and ask just what is behind the influx of child migrants and how is the US dealing with it.
Children like Cesar do not qualify for President Barack Obama's deferred action memorandum. That programme allows US immigration officials to practice prosecutorial discretion in deferring deportation proceedings for undocumented migrants who grew up in the US.
But, what about the undocumented migrants who have lived in the US for their entire lives? How are they faring after the implementation of Obama's deferred action programme?
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – From Samsung’s perspective, no smartphone exists without Samsung’s patents, the South Korean manufacturer CEO said Wednesday to The Korea Times.
“The truth never lies. Without Samsung-owned wireless patents, it’s impossible for the Cupertino-based Apple to produce its handsets. As you know, Samsung is very strong in terms of portfolios of wireless patents,” said Samsung’s mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun in a brief meeting with local reporters in Seoul, Wednesday.
Shin Jong-kyung’s remarks come at the height of the International Trade Commission’s decision to give Samsung another chance to prove Apple is indeed infringing on four of its patents, as it will review the case.
“The re-evaluation decision by the USITC doesn’t necessarily mean Samsung is better-positioned for the fight with Apple. But Samsung will do its best. Samsung’s legal team is effectively responding to this fight. Yes, a new trial for the case is a possibility,” Shin told reporters.
From Shin’s position it is obvious: the company doesn’t want to walk HTC’s path to initiate and reach an agreement, especially when considering that Samsung’s patents make the iPhone manufacturing possible in the first place.
And as the South Korean company’s recent moves show, it isn’t just talking, but taking action: it turned to the court to see which patents are included in the HTC and Apple settlement.– www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — While some, not all, of the focus over the past few days has been on Microsoft’s upcoming launch of the Surface tablet, many are still eagerly awaiting the release of the new Windows Phone 8 devices. Redmond recently showed off various features that we can expect, plus manufactures have announced their devices (HTC 8X and 8S, Samsung ATIV S, Nokia Lumia 820 and 920).
If you’re interested in seeing what Microsoft has planned, but can’t make the event, you might want to tune into the live stream. According to a post on the company blog, Microsoft notes that “As many of you know, we are landing in San Francisco on Monday October 29th to showcase some new things from Windows Phone. For those that can’t join us in person, no need to worry! You can tune into a live webcast here, all from the comfort of your couch, cubicle or coffee table. We hope you can join us, see you on the 29th!”
The fun will start at 10:00am PST (1PM EST).— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — In the U.S., it might feel like a Golden Age for millionaires, with taxes low and stock prices rising. But in the last year, the ranks of the super-rich have shrunk around world, according to the annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. The U.S. minted nearly one million new millionaires in the last year, but Europe shed "almost 1.8 million U.S. dollar millionaires" in 2011, with half of those losses coming from Italy, France, and Germany.
Today, the United States and Japan are home to about 7% of the world's population, but more than 50% of the world's millionaires.
The second striking fact from the report? Of the $12.3 trillion of global wealth that disappeared in 2011, Europe accounted for $10.9 trillion, or 89%, of the loss.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Atlantic
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Anti-US protests have engulfed much of the Arab world after clips from a controversial film satirizing the Prophet Muhammad appeared online. Embassies in Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Tunisia have been attacked by angry demonstrators.
02:20 GMT: US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has condemned the violence that's unfolded “in a number of countries” over the “video circulating on the Internet.” The US government “had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message,” she said, adding that there is “no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence.”
23:55 GMT: The two Marines killed in the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi were identified as former Navy SEAL commandos Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. They had been working as security officers.
21:02 GMT: Obama thanks Yemen President for condemnation of embassy attack, stresses the need to protect US diplomats
20:48 GMT: Libya declares pro-Sharia group reportedly behind the violence in the US consulate in Benghazi 'outlaws'.
20:25 GMT: The US Embassy in The Hague posted a tribute to “treasured colleague and friend Sean Smith,” the American diplomat killed in an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi.
20:21 GMT: US and Israeli flags burned during protests in Lebanon.
20:14 GMT: Protests begin outside the US embassy in Oman capital, Muscat.
20:00 GMT: At least 4 protesters have been killed in clashes outside US Embassy in Sana'a, Yemen, CNN reports, citing security officials
19:23 GMT: Clashes between protesters and riot police outside the American embassy in Cairo continue; angry demonstrators hurl rocks at the officers, who retaliate with tear gas grenades.
18:51 GMT: Protesters still gathered outside the US embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Smoke and fire can be see amidst the crowds. Watch RT's live feed here.
17:11 GMT: White House says it is doing everything possible to protect US diplomats in Yemen, all embassy personnel safe at the moment.
16:48 GMT: Muscovites bring flowers to US embassy in the Russian capital, paying their respects to Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats killed in the attack in Libya.
16:11 GMT: The Egyptian Health Ministry says the number of people injured in clashes outside the US embassy in Cairo has risen to 224.
16:00 GMT: The Libyan prime minister says the first suspects have been arrested in the US embassy attack in Benghazi and that more arrests are under way.
15:49 GMT: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi condemns attack in Libya and vows to protect foreign embassies in Cairo.
15:39 GMT: A Shia militant group threatens US interests in Iraq as part of the backlash over an anti-Islam film it describes as "heinous."
15:36 GMT: Libya’s deputy interior minister Wanis al-Sharef says the attack that killed four Americans in Libya was an organized two-part operation by heavily armed militants that included a timed raid on a secret safe house just as Libyan and US security forces were arriving to evacuate consulate staff. He says the attacks were suspected to have been timed to mark the 9/11 anniversary and that militants used civilians protesting an anti-Islam film to cover for their actions. The official said there may be a "spy" within the security forces since militants knew the safe house's location.
15:30 GMT: German police say they found no suspicious substances after evacuating part of the US consulate in Berlin. The building was evacuated on Thursday as a safety precaution, when an employee experienced breathing difficulties after handling a passport.
15:14 GMT: The FBI has opened an investigation into the deaths of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three others killed in the attack on the US consulate in Libya, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
15:06 GMT: Israeli Arab official Talab el-Sana warns of "Armageddon" if the United Nations does not intervene in the US embassy protests. The statement was made after dozens of Arab-Israeli protesters demonstrated outside the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
14:58 GMT: American diplomats injured in attack on embassy in Libya are undergoing treatment in Germany. The most seriously injured are expected to leave the ICU shortly.
14:43 GMT: Saudi Arabia condemns both the anti-Islam film and the violent reactions to it, aimed at US embassies.
14:41 GMT: Sporadic shooting reported near the US embassy in Yemeni capital, Sana'a. Residents near the embassy complain of being suffocated by tear gas.
14:28 GMT: Secretary of State Clinton calls anti-Muslim video "disgusting" and reprehensible, says US government rejects its content and message
14:26 GMT: US law enforcement says Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, man who claimed to be a consultant on the anti-Muslim movie blamed for violence, is in fact the movie's director.
14:18 GMT: Canadian embassy in Cairo closed on Thursday as a precaution following unrest outside the US embassy.
14:11 GMT: India likely to ban controversial 'Innocence of Muslims' film as anti-US protests spread.
14:10 GMT: 70 people have been injured in clashes outside the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, according to the country's Health Ministry.
14:07 GMT: Police fire tear gas at crowds of demonstrators outside the US embassy in Cairo. Protesters continue to taunt the officers by throwing sticks and stones at police vehicles.
13:58 GMT: Clashes between protesters and riot police continue outside the US embassy in Cairo. The streets are filled with smoke, and burning cars can be seen in the distance. Watch RT's live feed here.
13:51 GMT: Protesters reportedly attack US embassies in Morocco and Sudan.
13:43 GMT: Protests condemning the offensive film were also held in the Afghan cities of Kandahar and Kundoz. Religious leaders, scholars and citizens all denouced the movie, and appealed to the US authorities to prevent the sale, release and broadcasting of the film and bring those involved to justice.
13:41 GMT: Meanwhile, access to video-sharing server YouTube is still blocked in Afghanistan as authorities fear the controversial 'Innocence of Muslims' film, which was posted there, will spark violence in the country.
13:30 GMT: Thousands of protesters in Bangladesh try to storm the US embassy in the capital, Dhaka. Security around the compound has been tightened, and riot police is stationed outside.
13:23 GMT: Riot police in Cairo push back protesters, mix of tear gas and smoke fills up the streets in front of the US embassy.
13:18 GMT: Thousands continue to throw Molotov cocktails at riot police protecting the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.—www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — New official data show that the US government has failed to reduce the level of poverty in the country amid weak economic growth.
The US Census Bureau said in an annual report on Wednesday that 46.2 million Americans are still living below the poverty line.
The overall poverty rate stood at 15 percent in 2011, statistically unchanged from the 15.1 percent in the previous year.
According to the report, median US income declined 1.5 percent in 2011 compared to 2010.
Last year, the poverty threshold for a household of two adults and two children was $22,811.
The report also said the gap between rich and poor increased last year with joblessness persistently high.
Bruce Meyer, an economist at the University of Chicago, said it was disappointing that poverty levels did not improve.
Meyer described it as a sign of lingering problems in the labor market even with recent declines in unemployment.
"The drop in the unemployment rate has been due in significant part to workers leaving the labor force, because they are discouraged, back in school, taking care of family or other reasons," he said.
The poverty level is based on a government calculation that includes only income before tax deductions.—www.shafaqna.com/English