SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Canadian scientists are being asked to find faster ways to test for two dangerous bacteria that can be found in our food â€” E. coli and Listeria.
Possible E. coli contamination was the reason behind a recent beef recall in Alberta. Listeria was the bacteria behind the outbreak that killed 22 people in 2008 in seven provinces.
Genome Canada awarded one contract for a new Listeria test in October. The one for E. coli will be finalized in January.
Pierre Meulien is the president and CEO of Genome Canada.
"Hopefully we can do this much more rapidly," he said. "We're talking about what would be useful is less than an hour, maybe 15 minutes."
That's a dramatic contrast to the current sitation. It now takes 10 hours for a lab to confirm E. coli, five days for Listeria. And Meulien pointed out that a genetic test can be done on site.
"So that you could many times in any particular food processing operation test a carcass, cheese, milk whatever kind of product you're in the process of making," Meulien said.
Dr. David Chalak is a veterinarian in Alberta. He's also chair of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, which is chipping in for part of this research. He says better testing helps industry find more foreign markets.
"Consumers in foreign countries have the same concerns as Canadians," Chalak said.
He was involved in the latest recall in Alberta, with XL Foods, and he said getting timely results can be difficult.
"When the plant is in Brooks [Alberta] and you've got to take the samples to Calgary, there is travel time. I mean a 10-hour test is when it goes on the Petri dish. So 10 hours? Don't take that literally. You're basically looking at 24 hours."
Both projects have tight deadlines. The scientists must finish their project within 18 months. Meulien hopes one day there will be similar tests for other harmful bacteria, such as C. difficile in hospitals.- www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Albert Einstein was a smart guy. Everybody knows that. But was there something about the structure of his brain that made it special?
Scientists have been trying to answer that question ever since his death. Previously unpublished photographs of Einstein's brain taken soon after he died were analyzed last week in the journal Brain. The images and the paper provide a more complete anatomical picture and may help shed light on his genius.
Every brain has unique nooks and crannies. Aside from sheer curiosity, examining Einstein's brain could yield scientifically valuable insights. "There are strong links between variation in brain anatomy and variations in intellectual ability, period," says Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario.
The story of how the photographs turned up is interesting in itself. In the hours after Einstein's death in 1955, the autopsy pathologist, Thomas Harvey, took dozens of photographs and dissected the physicist's brain into 240 parts for preservation. Harvey's lab made slides for future study. (For more, see Jon Hamilton's "Einstein's Brain Unlocks Some Mysteries Of The Mind.")
Beginning in the 1980s, researchers started asking Harvey for samples — photos, slides and preserved blocks of the actual brain. Observations began to trickle out. In 1999, Harvey and Witelson discovered that not only did Einstein have abnormally wide parietal lobes — associated with math, vision and spatial perception — he also lacked a groove that runs through that region. Their hypothesis: No groove means more connectivity between neurons.
Over the years, researchers have tried to glean a few facts from whatever samples and photographs they could acquire. In 2009, anthropologist Dean Falk, of Florida State University in Tallahassee, noticed that Einstein had unusually patterned parietal lobes and a structural quirk in his brain common in string players and linked to musical ability. But she just had a handful of photos previously published by Witelson to go on.
Harvey died in 2007. His estate donated a special collection of slide and photo specimens and a road map of the brain to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Md., in 2010. For the first time, Falk and her colleagues had access to a more complete set of evidence.
So what did they find? Well, they analyzed 14 of these photographs and compared the visible parts of Einstein's outer brain with 85 human brains previously described in scientific studies. "Einstein's brain differs from the average human brain," says Falk. "In various parts, it's more convoluted. It's bumpier, and that may be related to an increase in the neurons."
The museum released an iPad app to view the slides back in September.
Witelson says the new analysis and photos may encourage other scientists to take a crack at Einstein's brain. "Einstein's aura lives on," she says.– www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The wave of protests against an anti-Muhammad movie made in America is said to prove, yet again, the unbridgeable gap between the West and the world of Islam.
Don’t we laugh off insults to Jesus? Haven’t even the Mormons taken the satirical Broadway musical The Book of Mormonin their stride? But Muslims, they are different. They get all worked up — into paroxysms of violence, as seen after the Danish cartoons, the inadvertent burning of the Qur’an in Afghanistan, the deliberate burning of the book in the U.S., and now over the Muhammad movie and 30 Muhammad cartoons in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
But the divide over free speech is far less clear-cut than it is made out to be, as recent events show.
The BBC apologized to the Queen after one of its reporters revealed that she once told him how “pretty upset” she was about a radical Muslim cleric in London, whom the government wanted to deport. The secrecy demanded by palace protocol trumped the public’s right to know their subsidized monarch’s thinking on an important issue.
A French court ruled against a magazine for publishing pictures of a bare-breastedKate Middleton, and imposed a fine of $12,700 a day if it didn’t remove them from its website.
The British tabloid Sun was criticized for printing a photo of a nude Prince Harry in New York.
The royal private bits are off limits, even if they give much enjoyment to many. But it’s fine to show the Prophet Muhammad as a sex fiend, as the film does, or portray him in crude, lewd and nude poses, as does Charlie Hebdo, even if that upset tens of millions.
These different approaches reflect the differences in jurisdictions, sure. Still, in Europe and North America, both legal strictures and social pressures work disproportionately against Muslims and Islam.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The Muslim Times
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Forget hair transplants, pills and hair regrowth serums. A University of Pennsylvania researcher has a better alternative for balding men: shave it all off.
In three experiments, researcher Albert Mannes, a lecturer at the Wharton School at U. Penn — and a balding man himself — found that guys with shaved heads are not only perceived by others as more manly and dominant than other men, but also taller, stronger and having greater potential as leaders.
In the first experiment, nearly 60 participants looked at a series of photos of men who were similar in age and attire. The difference was that some men had shaved heads while others had full manes. The participants rated each man in terms of how powerful, influential and authoritative they looked. When the results were averaged, shaved men topped the ratings.
In the second study, Mannes showed participants images of four men. Each man was shown twice, once with hair and once without. Not only were the men perceived as more dominant when they were shown digitally balded, but they were also viewed as nearly an inch taller and 13% stronger.
In the final study, Mannes gave the participants verbal and written descriptions men. Some men were described as having thick hair and others had shaved heads. Once again, the participants rated the men with shaved heads highest for masculinity, strength, dominance and leadership potential.
“I was surprised that perceptions of dominance and masculinity extended to concrete, physical characteristics such as height and strength,” says Mannes, whose study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Mannes theorizes that it’s the boldness of the act of head-shaving that feeds into the perception of dominance. He’s found that men with thinning hair — those who are presumably just resigning themselves to their own baldness — were rated as less dominant than men who took the initiative to shave their heads altogether.
Still, that doesn’t mean everyone should be reaching for the shaver. Mannes research also revealed that men with shaved heads were considered less attractive and older-looking than those with thick heads of hair — and attractiveness is also correlated with perception of dominance. “So, whatever a man gains in dominance directly by shaving his full head of hair will be offset to some degree by his diminished attractiveness,” says Mannes.
For men with thinning hair, however, the benefits offset the downside. “The shaved look is more attractive than the visibly balding look. So men suffering natural hair loss may enhance both their dominance and attractiveness by shaving,” says Mannes.
Mannes says his findings should help legions of balding guys feel better about themselves and stop feeling self-conscious about their shiny pates. Or, at the very least, they can save themselves the financial cost of trying to reverse their hair loss. “These men might better improve their well-being by finishing what Mother Nature has started,” he writes. — www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Time Healthland
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —
Graduates at Xinjiang Islamic Institute will be awarded bachelor's degrees and gradually become a new generation of mosque leaders. Yao Tong / for China Daily
Students at the Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, during the fourth of the five daily prayers required by the religion. The institute is one of 10 located throughout China. Photos by Yao Tong / for China Daily
The institute's buildings are being reinforced to make them less vulnerable to earthquake damage.
Students prior to the start of prayers.
From left to right: Tahier Aji teaches the Quran to senior students. A student uses a tablet computer to learn the Quran. Memetimin Abudulla returned to the institute last year after five years in Egypt.
Islamic centers of learning train a new generation, reports Cui Jia in Xinjiang.
As the students filed into the mosque at the Xinjiang Islamic Institute, Chinese construction workers repairing the buildings quietly laid down their tools and waited in silence as the scholars performed the fourth of the five daily prayers required by the Muslim faith.
On graduation from the institute in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the students will be awarded bachelor's degrees and then return to their hometowns where they will gradually become the new generation of mosque leaders.
The carpets of the traditional-style mosque - a structure topped with minarets and an onion dome whose windows allow sunlight to flood the prayer hall - have been removed for cleaning while the workers fix a leak in the roof. Funded by the regional government, the main building and dormitory of the school have also been reinforced to make them less vulnerable to earthquake damage.
After 15 minutes of prayer, the students stood up and put their shoes back on. They then walked back to their classrooms in the four-story building next door. A few minutes later, the beautiful, calming sound of chanting could be heard as Quran recitation classes resumed.
China has 10 Islamic institutes; Xinjiang is among the largest and the only one that teaches in the language of the Uygur ethnic group. The students' day begins before sunrise with the first prayer, and in contrast to secular universities, all courses at the school are scheduled to take place between the prayer sessions.
The mosque, built in 1987 when the institute was founded, is an important teaching facility where students learn how to perform a variety of religious tasks.
"Senior students take turns learning how to take prayers and interpret the Quran. That's the minimum they are expected to do. Some are overwhelmed at first but they have to get used to it," said Abudurehep Turmniaz, dean of the institute, which currently has 219 students, most of whom follow the Sunni branch of Islam.
"Although they will have a bachelor's degree and a deep knowledge of Islam after five years of study, it will still take years for them to gain the respect of the locals and become imams (leaders of worship at mosques)."
The Quran, the holy book of Islam, must be recited in Arabic. For those whose first language is not Arabic, memorizing all 30 books of the Quran word for word and then chanting them requires skill and dedication. The institute invites voice teachers to train elite students and help them improve their chanting.
"We require our students to digest and memorize two books (of the Quran) every semester, but for some it's a very challenging task. Officials can use notes when addressing the public, imams can't. Locals won't accept an imam who cannot chant fluently by heart," said the bearded Abudurehep, dressed in a traditional imam's gown.
"Simply memorizing the Quran is not enough. I need to understand the exact meaning of every Arabic word, so I can interpret it correctly for the people," said Jamarlitin Wahli, who wore sneakers and a sweat shirt. Although the sophomore is only 20, he is already one of the few people at the institute who can recite all 30 books of the Quran.
Jamarlitin's sonorous voice and accurate pronunciation led to him being selected by the Chinese Islamic Association to represent the country at an international Quran recitation contest in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in July. He left with the award for excellence.
"Although my chanting is not that much different from people from other countries, I feel that I am actually better at it than most of them," he said.
The young scholar hails from Artux city in southern Xinjiang, where his grandfather - an imam at a small mosque - began teaching him the Quran at an early age. The old man is proud that his grandson was accepted as a student by the best Islamic academy in the region.
"My grandfather always asks me not to be arrogant and to take the opportunity to master the spirit of the Quran so I can teach him when I return home," said Jamarlitin.
"In the past, the Quran was passed down by word of mouth in Xinjiang. It was easy to tell whether an imam came from Turpan in the east or Kashgar in the south because of his accent when he chanted. But at the institute, we teach the students Arabic according to classical pronunciation. Some of our teachers are sent abroad to study so they can set the standard," said the dean.
When Memetimin Abudulla returned to the institute in 2011 after five years at Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the world's leading center for the study of Arabic literature and Islamic learning, he was surprised at the transformation the institute had undergone.
"When I arrived as a freshman in 2000, the institute only had one building. We didn't have a dormitory or canteen. Now I feel that the teaching and living conditions here are even better than at Al-Azhar," said the 29-year-old Kashgar native, looking smart in his blue suit. "Now at least, students don't need to stand through classes because there are not enough tables and chairs as they do sometimes at Al-Azhar. But there is so much to learn in Egypt - it's like swimming in an ocean of knowledge."
At age 15, Memetimin became determined to study at the Xinjiang institute after hearing a recording of the Quran being chanted by one of the teachers at the school: "The chanting was so beautiful and I said to myself that I need to learn from the best, but I never imagined that I would study at Al-Azhar University."
Those wishing to study at the Xinjiang Institute, all young men aged 18 to 25, find that gaining entry is difficult, as it requires a character reference from respected imams as well as high scores in the entry exams. Successful applicants, whose tuition fees are all paid by the regional government, are required to be devoted to carrying Islam forward in Xinjiang.
Student numbers are beginning to rise. This year, the college admitted 40 new students, but previously it accepted only 50 every two years. "The expansion of the school depends on the social and economic development of Xinjiang," said Ilijon Anayt, a vice-dean at the institute.
Memetimin, who has a bachelor's degree in Islamic theology from Al-Azhar, is now a teacher at the institute and a role model for younger students.
The former winner of the first prize at the Chinese national Quran recitation contest has been providing extra tuition to five students to prepare them for the next competition, which will be held next year. "The teaching of Arabic has been raised to another level and so the students find it easier to progress."
About 70 percent of the courses at the institute are related to Islam, including recitation and interpretation of the Quran, and Arabic. Students also study Uygur literature and Mandarin.
"Uygur is their mother tongue, they have an duty to master it, both in the spoken and written forms. Meanwhile, Mandarin is the official language of China, so there is no excuse for our students not to learn it well. Good Mandarin skills will also help them to better communicate with Muslims from other parts of the country, said Ilijon.
"In China, a lot of Islamic literature was originally written in Mandarin. If our students could accurately translate those books into Uygur, they would be able to pass on that knowledge with greater ease," he said.
Traditional meets modern
Although it's rooted in Islamic tradition, the school provides computer lessons so students can find and download learning materials from the Internet. Some students have even replaced their textbooks with tablet computers.
When the other students leaf through the pages of their Qurans, searching for the chapter specified by the teacher, Nurmemet Nurahmet just slides his finger on the touch screen of the tablet computer he bought three months ago. The senior student has installed applications for an audio book of the Quran and Arabic pronunciation on the device. "Students from other universities use new technologies to help them study. So should we," he said.
"If I have a problem with the pronunciation of a certain sentence, I can listen to it as many times as I like. Also, the tablet saves the trouble of carrying heavy books," said the 26-year-old scholar, who added that the 4,000 yuan ($634) he spent on the device was worth every penny. "Religion can and should adapt to new technology."
More than 40 senior students now take tablet computers into classes, said Ilijon. "We encourage them to do so. Maybe we should just give everyone a tablet computer instead of heavy books?"
Alim Rehman, also a vice-dean at the institute, said the school will eventually relocate to a bigger campus in the university district on the outskirts of Urumqi. The plan was approved earlier this year and the central government has allocated 270 million yuan to construct a new campus covering 10 hectares.
"We will always remember this place," Alim said, recalling how students and teachers saved 15 people during a 2009 riot in Urumqi in which 197 people were killed.
"Some people who were being chased by rioters ran to the school gate crying for help. We let them in without any hesitation and then waited to see if anyone else needed help," he said. Later that evening, the school fed the victims and offered them accommodation until the violence died down.
The institute will move from a neighborhood with a relatively strong religious atmosphere to a district where young people from different universities live side by side, but Alim has no qualms about the relocation.
"I believe there is no downside to our students mixing with other young people. After all, our students have to learn to respect tradition, but also to embrace the modern world," he said. "Religion needs to adapt to and serve modern society, otherwise it simply won't develop," he warned.
After the move, the old institute will provide services to help Xinjiang's Muslims preparing to undertake the hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia). So far, the institute has helped more than 10,000 people from the region prepare for the pilgrimage.
More than 564 students have graduated from the institute since 1987, and most have gone on to become imams or teachers at local Quranic schools.
Since 2001, the institute has also sent more than 35 of its graduates to study overseas.
"Sometimes the locals have difficulty understanding our graduates because the concepts they are explaining are new to them. Meanwhile, the graduates need to learn to address issues in a way the villagers can understand and accept. Both sides need to adapt to each other," said Ilijon.
"When they complete their studies, the graduates will be better able to serve Xinjiang's Muslims and their knowledge could have an impact across the region during the next 50 years," he said. "Some people try to implant extremist ideas by interpreting the Quran incorrectly. Our students will help the people stay away from that."
Since the renovation work started at the institute, Abudurehep has visited the mosque every day to inspect the progress.
"At the beginning, the workers didn't realize how important the prayers are to us and they carried on with their work during prayers so they could meet their deadline. But now they stop when the students begin to gather, even though no one has asked them to do so. I am grateful for their respect and understanding," said Abudurehep as he gazed up at the newly painted roof.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: China Daily
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Today we’re introducing improved features and a new look for Facebook Messages.
Get right to your messages
The new side-by-side layout lets you click your most recent message on the left to see the whole conversation on the right. You can also bring conversations to life with multiple photos
Easier Search and Navigation
Now you can search by a sender’s name or keyword from the main messages view. And for easier navigation, we’ve added keyboard commands. To see the full list of available shortcuts, type Alt Q on a PC or Control Q on a Mac.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: News Room
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama Halaal Division (ACJU- HD) headed by As Sheikh Mufti Rizwe recently visited the Central Islamic Council of Thailand which is responsible for Thailand Halal Food Production and the Halal Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok,” the ACJU-HD said in a statement.
“Thailand currently exports 312 Million US dollars of Halal Food and Cosmetic Products annually and is planning on a 40 percent increase year on year. The Global Market for Halal Food and Cosmetic Products is in the region of 1 Trillion US dollars per annum.
“The Government of Thailand has appointed the Central Islamic Council of Thailand (CICOT) to be responsible for the Institute of Halal Food Standards in Thailand. The Halal Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University has a world class Halal science laboratory in the heart of Bangkok. The Laboratory is fully equipped with a variety of advanced and sophisticated scientific instruments to perform testing to ensure an item is halal.
“Currently the ACJU- HD is in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding with both CICOT and the Halal Science Center to ensure all products locally certified by the ACJU – HD have global recognition. This agreement will enable Sri Lankan Halal certified products to have a Global reach, thus enabling Sri Lankan exports to also have a share in the Trillion Dollar Food and Cosmetic Market,” the statement said.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Halal Focus